Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Q. I have a question. I work for a college and I am only on the main campus one day per week. The other 4 days I am traveling to other campuses. I do not receive a reimbursement for this. I have been told that I can deduct it from my taxes. What amount is deductible - the entire mileage (to and from) for those 4 days, or the difference between the mileage each day and the normal mileage that I use on the one day?
A. First of all as an employee receiving a W-2, which I assume you are, in order to deduct business mileage, or any other unreimbursed “employee business expenses”, you must be able to itemize on Schedule A. If you claim the standard deduction you are out of luck – there is no “above-the-line” deduction for such expenses.

Second, if you do itemize the total of all of your “miscellaneous” deductions (employee business expenses, investment expenses and tax preparation fees) must be more than 2% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for you to receive any tax benefit. If your AGI is $60,000 you must have more than $1,200 in these types of expenses. If your total deductible unreimbursed employee business, investment and tax preparation expenses are only $1,100 you are out of luck.

The cost of commuting from your home to a regular place of work and back is not deductible. What is deductible is driving between different regular places of work, whether for two or more employers or to multiple job locations or clients for the same employer.

In your case each of the various campuses is a regular place of work. So going from home to the first campus of the day is non-deductible commuting. However if you travel from home to your base office on the main campus first, and then go from the main campus to another campus, the miles from the main campus to the second campus and, if applicable, back to the main campus are deductible.

If you go from home to Campus A, then to Campus B, then to Campus C, then back to Campus A and then home all in one day the driving from Campus A to B and C and back to A is deductible. If you go from home to Campus A, from Campus A to Campus B, and then back home the miles from Campus A to Campus B are deductible.

But if on Monday you go from home to Campus A and back, and on Tuesday you go from home to Campus B and back, and so on, visiting one different campus each day, then it is all commuting and none of it is deductible.

Also, if from home to Campus A, your main office, is 5 miles and from home to Campus B is 8 miles, and you go from home to Campus B and back on Tuesday, you do not deduct 3 miles (8 miles – 5 miles = 3 miles). You deduct 0 miles.

However, if you work for University A, visiting various campuses of that University during the week, and you travel some 250 miles to University B in another state for a special project that will last a month, then your travel from home to University B is deductible. This is because you are traveling to a “temporary” business location (temporary = the assignment will last less than 12 months) that is outside of the area of your tax home.

You can deduct 50.5 cents per mile from January to June and 58.5 cents per mile for July to December for 2008 for business driving – plus any tolls paid in the course of deductible travel. Under certain circumstances you also have the option of deducting a percentage of the actual cost of operating your car, including depreciation.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes you have the answer. So much so there isn't anything to add.