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  • Take-Home Vehicle Questions

    Some of these questions sound silly, but I'm not a mathematician or a tax expert, so I'll ask anyway.

    Our agency is considering a take-home vehicle program. I'm open to the idea, but don't know exactly how they work. I just realized the benefit is likely taxable by the IRS. Our city manager basically confirmed this, but didn't explain it well to me.

    Supposedly the IRS allows $0.485 per mile for vehicle costs, but since the city will be paying for gasoline, insurance, oil, etc., they will likely "assess" (not the corect word) some lower amount per mile that we are receiving as a benefit. Let's say that amount is $0.20 a mile.

    So, at $0.20 a mile I am receiving a benefit of $123 a month based on my round trip mileage to work and back and the number of shifts I work in a month.

    I have an extremely economical POV, which probably takes me $50 a month to get to work and back.

    Even though that $123 dollars will be taxed, it appears I will still be ahead by opting for the program, yes?

    I have other questions like who pays for what? Our agency head kind of suggested he doesn't want us bringing the vehicle into the city mechanic to have a light bulb changed or other minor "repairs". Is this normal?

    We would also be washing it at home on our time and dime. Not trying to be petty but we use well water which uses electricity for pumping; the more water we use, the higher the power bill.

    Our agency head is kind of picky and wants the vehicles clean. If I spend, say an hour a week on cleaning, at my rate of pay have spent $23 dollars and taken precious time away from my family.

    Of course there would be less wear and tear on my POV which may add up.

    Is this type of deal really worth it? Is it just kind of a break-even thing?

    I can't really see this saving the city any money with the price of gas the way it is and 50% of the officer having a 40+ round trip to work each shift.
    Those who are successful at what they do don't give a rip about what others think about them.

    We don't rent pigs.

  • #2
    Yes, even if taxed, your personal bank account will fare better using a take home car and paying tax on the benefit than paying 100% of the costs of even a cheaper operating personal vehicle. You'll also save on insurance rates.


    Washing it once a week and vacuming it out is not too much to expect in return. If that's a serious coinsideration, if it's that much of a concern, turn them down and just drive the POV. My department will pay for a cleaning once a month, I haven't used the offer in some several years now as I just do it myself. My department will also pay 100% costs of repairs and maintenance, I still do most oil and filter changes and tire changes, and even a brake job myself, letting them supply the parts as it keeps me familiar with my car, the same one I trust on those "cross two county high speed responses" when needed.

    (about taxing it as a benifit, we are not taxed though there once was talk of it by the IRS but the state and the IRS wrote some letters back and forth and because it is needed for callouts and response and etc .... we are not taxed)
    Last edited by t150vsuptpr; 08-05-2007, 10:43 PM. Reason: about being taxed onthe take home ....
    "That's right man, we've got mills here that'll blow that heap of your's right off the road."

    "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars."(it's my home now)

    >>>>> A Time for Choosing <<<<<

    Retired @ 31yr 2mo as of 0000 hrs. 01-01-10. Yeah, all in all, it was good.

    Comment


    • #3
      We have a deal where our city pays a local car wash a flat rate every month, and we can go there every day if we want (although most of us do tip the people that wash them). Like the good ole supervisor said, if you don't want to wash it, just decline the offer and use your POV. As far as the 40+ miles go, most departments make you pay about $20 per paycheck for a takehome outside of a certain mileage from the city. Ours did up until our last contract.

      And really the best part (I think) about take homes isn't the money you're saving on gas and such, it's the fact that everything is exactly how you want it every time you get in the car, and the only things you have to take in and out are the shotgun and the computer (some won't even do that).

      Comment


      • #4

        When I was a deputy sheriff, the county would pay for "one thorough cleaning" each month at a local full-service wash (county probably paid about $10 each with the discount), but we were each allowed one 'drive-through' wash (worth about $2) each day at the local gas station. All we had to do was sign their book with our vehicle unit number.

        During certain times of the year, we could take the cruiser to the jail and the trustee prisoners (those in for minor stuff or close to being released) would wash, wax and detail the entire car. Honestly, those chaps did a great job too. Funny thing is that they really all volunteered and actually enjoyed doing cleaning the patrol cars. Besides, it gave them some extra 'outdoor' time they so desperately wanted.

        Keeping a little jug of Armor-All, a roll of paper towels and some Windex stashed behind the driver's seat did wonders for keeping the interior clean, and a can of that "tire spray" always made the sidewalls look like new. Our sheriff was big on keeping things clean - not always easy with so many dirt & gravel roads. Taking two or three minutes every other day ain't too much to ask, at least in my lowly opinion.

        Now, if Ford could have just invented wheel covers that did not fly off like a Frisbee. Sheesh! It took them until the 2003 model Crown Vic before they fixed that issue.


        Whatever unit you must drive, do your best to keep it clean. Even when everyone else might be a slob, do your best to keep from adding to the mess. Remember that your car is your office, right?

        Last edited by VA Dutch; 08-01-2007, 11:46 PM.

        The comments above reflect my personal opinion as a private citizen, ordinary motorist and all-around good guy.

        The aforementioned advice should not be construed to represent any type of professional opinion, legal counsel or other type of instruction with regard to traffic laws, judicial proceedings or official agency policy.

        ------------------------------------------------

        "Ignorance on fire is hotter than knowledge on ice."

        Comment


        • #5
          Where I used to live the deputies each had take home cars, and if they cars were dirty, take 'em over to the jail and let the inmates wash them... The insides the deputies were on their own due to expected reasons (ie... don't want inmates screwin around with your shotty or AR, etc. etc)

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm a federal agent with a take home car and nothing is added on my W2 for having a take home car. It is a work car and we are subject to call-out's. Although it is a 'perk' per se, I think the use of a take home car is worded in such a way that it falls outside the IRS definition of being a taxable benefit. The federal government is not alone in this, as there are countless local agencies that have take home cars and I have never heard of them being taxed on that 'benefit'.

            As for my car maintenance is done on duty at the local Jiffy Lube. We are also allowed one car wash per month on the government's dime. There are a few car washes in LA that cater to local and federal police agencies with good deals on the car washes. Thankfully the Los County Sheriff's Department has trustee's at stations that wash our cars for free

            Comment


            • #7
              All LEO's are subject to being called into work at any time. This is the reason you can't be taxed on your takehome. Don't worry about a problem you don't have.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Mannix View Post
                All LEO's are subject to being called into work at any time. This is the reason you can't be taxed on your takehome. Don't worry about a problem you don't have.
                Agreed!! You beat me to it.
                "We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm" -George Orwell

                "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark, and we're wearing diapers." - Blues Brothers

                Comment


                • #9
                  No tax on take-home

                  Ditto.

                  As long as your take-home is for the purpose of prompt response, lack of city parking, reduced maintenance costs, longer service life, better vehicle accountability, or other reason not related to your off-duty activities, you should not be taxed on your take-home.

                  Don't let the bean counters pull that one on you!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for the continued responses.

                    Since I posted the question, our chief told me that it's not taxable. He didn't go into any reasons except that since we can't use it for personal use, i.e. family outings, personal errands, etc., it's not taxed.

                    I wasn't too worried with the whole idea, I just wanted to know what I might be getting into before it happens. I'd like to be prepared for what might come.

                    Our agency and city tends to be very disorganized, so I'm curious about a few things:

                    I'm doubtful we will have any special deals worked out with a local car wash (not a huge issue there).

                    Our city mechanic is part-time and appears to be somewhat lazy. Will I be footing the bill for my oil changes every two months because he can't get to them? I am not vehicle savvy and don't have the place or the tools to work on my vehicle.

                    Also, if I take the vehicle and leave it on my day off to be worked on by the mechanic, I have to have my wife follow me there for a ride back. Then if I pick it up on my work day, she has to give me a ride to work that day, so I can take the vehicle back when I go home. This is a big hassle with four young children and a family vehicle with low MPG.

                    If my vehicle breaks down at home (22 miles from work) do I call a tow truck on the city's bill? With the state of the vehicle I currently drive, it breaking down is definite probability.

                    Our sergeant even wondered about workman's comp issues. Some of it might be a stretch but stranger things have happened. What if I am injured washing my patrol vehicle or doing maintenance on it? What if I crash on my way to have the mechanic take a look at my vehicle? Am I consider as being working if I am doing something related to maintaining my vehicle?
                    Last edited by barkalot; 08-05-2007, 11:23 AM. Reason: added stuff
                    Those who are successful at what they do don't give a rip about what others think about them.

                    We don't rent pigs.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A take home car is no different than a motorcycle officer who gets to ride his bike to and from home. No taxes on the perk! It is a benefit of the program. The one caveat is with a take home vehicle, your agency may, and probably will, take advantage of the situation and you will be called out more than you wish.
                      Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                      [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I really have no idea about the taxation and all of the other legalities, I just wanted to add in that I love my take home. I take pride in my take home. The monsoon's are pretty bad here right now so with the dust storms it is totally worthless to wash it, other than spray it off to get the layer of dust off. But the state does have a contract with many carwashes and they pay $6 bucks a wash and most places do a pretty good job, even armor the tires.

                        My take home is always ready to go with zero notice, throw my shotgun and computer in it and i'm off. I have blank paperwork, riot gear, water bottles and everything else good to go in the event of an emergency or a call out.

                        I'm also prepared in such that I leave last weeks uniform hanging up ready to go until I get this weeks uniformed prepped to go in case of a call out.

                        The few minutes it takes to wash it and vaccuum it really make it a good trade off. I figure if the states going to give me a $25K+ car, the least I could do is wash it. I would do my own maintenance but that's a big no no with this department (just cuz i'm a gear head and enjoy that stuff.)

                        oh yeah, I also get to keep my satellite radio in my car along with my printer!!!
                        "When I close my eyes.....I'll see you on the other side....!!!"

                        Hate to put it this way skippy, buy every night I suit up and climb in the cruiser I'm at war. I'm always outnumbered, potentially out gunned and always behind enemy lines.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by SgtCHP View Post
                          A take home car is no different than a motorcycle officer who gets to ride his bike to and from home. No taxes on the perk! It is a benefit of the program. The one caveat is with a take home vehicle, your agency may, and probably will, take advantage of the situation and you will be called out more than you wish.
                          Call outs shouldn't be a problem with us being we are so small. I've been there eight months with no call outs. I was with my previous small department and can only remember a couple, if that. Short of someone calling in sick just before or during their shift, we worked what we are scheduled to work.

                          SgtCHP, when you are riding your bike home is that at the end of your shift, or are you ending your shift as you pull up? If you end your shift, and then ride home, are you still covered by workman's comp while en route?

                          We would not start our shift until we arrive at the PD, and would not leave until our shift ended. Are we technically still "at work" during the drive home, since we are in a city vehicle?

                          Anyone?
                          Those who are successful at what they do don't give a rip about what others think about them.

                          We don't rent pigs.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by barkalot View Post
                            Call outs shouldn't be a problem with us being we are so small. I've been there eight months with no call outs. I was with my previous small department and can only remember a couple, if that. Short of someone calling in sick just before or during their shift, we worked what we are scheduled to work.

                            SgtCHP, when you are riding your bike home is that at the end of your shift, or are you ending your shift as you pull up? If you end your shift, and then ride home, are you still covered by workman's comp while en route?

                            We would not start our shift until we arrive at the PD, and would not leave until our shift ended. Are we technically still "at work" during the drive home, since we are in a city vehicle?

                            Anyone?
                            On the Highway Patrol you ride to work and home on your time - prior to and after your assigned shift. So, most motorcops put in at least ten and a half hour days - one hour each way and 81/2 on duty.

                            If you encounter an incident that requires action on your part you are on duty and therefore entitled to put in for overtime - that is incidents other than writing a traffic ticket.
                            Last edited by SgtCHP; 08-05-2007, 02:28 PM.
                            Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence!

                            [George Washington (1732 - 1799)]

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              with my agency (also Highway Patrol, just AZ) I physically check on duty from my driveway, and check off duty from my driveway. So being that we're a state agency I can pull anyone over anywhere and be on duty.
                              "When I close my eyes.....I'll see you on the other side....!!!"

                              Hate to put it this way skippy, buy every night I suit up and climb in the cruiser I'm at war. I'm always outnumbered, potentially out gunned and always behind enemy lines.

                              Comment

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