Scrolling through my Twitter feed, I saw this Promoted Tweet:
— H&R Block (@HRBlock) January 6, 2017
Curious, I looked to see what it was responding to. TurboTax, it turns out, will have a (pretty awesome, actually) new Super Bowl ad, starring Kathy Bates:
Basically, Kathy Bates sees creepy ghost-children throughout her house; on an app, she asks a TurboTax advisor if she can take a dependent tax credit for them. The advisor tells her that she can’t, but “you may be able to deduct some of your moving expenses.”
Bates replies, “Good. ‘Cause I’m gonna have to move again.”
Clever spot, well-shot, with at least one decent jump-scare. But is it accurate?
No, it turns out. Or, at least, probably not. In general, moving expenses aren’t deductible, because in general they’re personal expenses, and section 262 disallows deductions for living expenses.
There’s an exception, though: section 217 allows deductions for moving expenses. But.
Moving expenses are only deductible when an individual has a new principal place of work, and where that new principal place of work is at least further from her previous home than her old workplace.
So I guess technically the TurboTax advisor is right: it’s possible that Bates will be able to deduct her moving expenses. But nothing in the ad indicates that she’s changing jobs; she’s clearly going to move because, well, her house is haunted.
I mean, H&R Block’s tweeted response isn’t entirely accurate, either: even if the tax law has some strange credits, there’s no talk of a credit here. And H&R Block has messed up in ad campaigns, too: in 2012, they forgot that Bruce Wayne couldn’t fully deduct his charitable deduction if that deduction exceeded his AGI.
Still, in spite of imprecision and past mistakes, I’m going to award this Super Bowl (ad) victory to H&R Block. TurboTax’s ad is fun, but it’s also wrong.