The latest development in the home office deduction front involves a college professor who lost his war with the Internal Revenue Service but who may have won an important battle for others.

Professor George Weightman used a portion of his bedroom as his home office. He wrote, did research, prepared lectures, and graded papers in a specific area, furnished with a desk, chair, and some other office equipment. His bed and dresser were in another part of the room.

Professor Weightman was denied a home office deduction, because his work space did not meet the requirement that "a portion of the dwelling unit [be] used exclusively and on a regular basis as the taxpayer's principal place of business." The court ruled that the college was the professor's principal place of business.

Although he lost the case, he did win a point by arguing that the two areas, one for work, one for sleep, were separate and distinct even though they were not separated by a wall or partition. On that point the court agreed, overruling the IRS claim that without physical separation there could be no "exclusivity (1981-301)."

Home office users, even without separate rooms, take note.