What are the IRS Commuting Mileage Rules?

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If you regularly drive to work, you can sometimes make a mileage deduction on your taxes. Many people do not understand the rules that the IRS has laid down regarding what is deductible.

There is no such thing as a commuting tax deduction. However, there are circumstances where you can drive from home and the mileage will be tax deductible.

Before you start deducting your mileage from your taxes, you must have logged the mileage according to the prescribed rules by the IRS.

Use a smart technology such as GOFAR to accurately and automatically track and log your mileage.

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What is Commuting?

The IRS defines commuting as the transportation between your home and your regular place of work.

In this circumstance, your home is the place where you live, and your regular place of work is the place where you earn the majority of your income.

Is Mileage to and from Work Deductible?

Generally, your commute to and from work is not tax deductible. To get around this, you can get a home office qualified by proving that you earn a large percentage of your income from there.

Note that the IRS only allows you to deduct business mileage and not personal driving costs.

Is There Commuting Deduction?

There’s nothing in the IRS tax deduction rules that is called commuting to work deduction. You can only deduct mileage for charity purposes medical purposes or business driving.

What are the Rules on Commute to Work Tax Deduction?

The following are the rules about the commute to work tax deduction:

  • The drive between your home and your main job location is never tax-deductible
  • If your main job is at a different location as your temporary place of work, the drive between your home and the temporary place of work is tax deductible
  • A trip between your home and a second job is not tax deductible if you are on an off day from your job
  • The mileage between the temporary job and the regular job is always tax-deductible
  • If you have a second job, the trip between your main job and the second job is tax deductible
  • If you have temporary work locations and a second job, you can always deduct the mileage between the two locations
  • By creating a home office, you will turn many of the commute drives into business drives

Example: Derrick is a sales agent who lives in Brooklyn. If he commutes from his home to his office, the trip will not be tax deductible.

But if he drives from his house directly to his clients to make a sales pitch, this is an allowed deduction. If he drives from his office to meet clients, the trade is tax deductible.

For Derrick to be able to make the deductions he must always log the mileage.

How to Establish If a Drive from Home is an Allowed Deduction

As a general rule, the IRS defines commuting as a personal expense that is not an allowable deduction.

When does commuting occur?

  • Commuting occurs when you drive from home to the principal place of work which can be your office or any other principal place of work.
  • Commuting can also happen when you drive to a place where you have worked in the past or expect to work for more than one year.

The IRS will still consider a trip as commuting even if you drive from home to go and conduct business.

However, if you want to haul some goods from your home to your office, this might be considered for deduction. The write-off might include the cost of renting a trailer and other expenses related to hauling.

Even if you work during a trip, you are not allowed to make any deductions for the same trip. It doesn’t matter whether you are making business calls or listening to work-related audio recordings.

You will not be allowed to make a deduction for your mileage just because you have some advertising in your car.

Commuting Tax Deduction Insights

The IRS rules on commuting make it very difficult to determine which drive from home is allowable for a tax deduction.

Below are some insights that will give you clues as to what drives can be a tax deduction:

  • Commuting is never an allowed tax deduction
  • Working during your community doesn’t turn your trip into a business drive
  • If you create a home office and prove that it is where you earn a majority of your income, you can nullify the commuting rule
  • Any drive between the home and a temporary place of work is tax deductible

Using a Home Office to Make Commuting to Work Tax Deductible

Photo courtesy from Flickr Images by jnyemb

A smart way to beat the IRS commuting rule is to qualify a home office. This means that you are allowed to deduct the cost of the drives between your home office and any other business location.

The rule will not apply if you work from home and thus do not make any business trips. By qualifying a home office, you are already at your place of work.

Your whole office will qualify as your primary location of work only it is where you earn most of your income; perform your management and administrative tasks.

What Effect Does Temporary Work Location Have on Mileage deduction?

The IRS commuting rule will not apply when you drive between a home and a temporary place of work.

A temporary place of work is defined as a place where you expect to work for less than one year.

The temporary place of work maybe inside the metropolitan where are you live, or it may be further out.

Not that the temporary work location is not limited to only a client office. It is the place where you perform business-related activities for less than a year.

If you stop at the temporary work location, you will convert the entire trip into an allowed deductible mileage.

When you are sure that all your different drives from home are deductible; ensure you keep an accurate mileage log by tracking your trips using GOFAR.

Without supporting documentation, IRS can reject your mileage deduction even if you have a legitimate claim for commuting to work tax deduction.

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