Right out of college in 1969, my first job was teaching French at maybe the best public high school in North Carolina. I was making $6,300 a year, which seemed like a lot, since all-in costs at Davidson College had been around $2,000. So I could afford to go to France in the summers. The epiphany was when I found out I could deduct all my living expenses (I took some classes, did an internship or “stage,” and traveled).
Deductions for travel were later called a loophole: “Congressional discussion of the 1986 revisions makes clear that a French professor who tours France to brush up on his language skills is not entitled to a tax deduction.” http://chronicle.com/article/Tax-PlanningSabbatical/126293/. They got me. I was on the Joint Committee staff then, and don’t remember the change. I don’t think I was involved.
I remember, as I was putting my documentation together to claim my deduction, my father telling me, “If you claim $12 a day, they’ll never question it.” I was living low to the ground back then.