How to get a green light for commuting expense deductions
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If you commute back and forth to work every day, you typically can’t deduct any of your travel costs, such as gas for your car or commuter fares. The IRS says these commuting expenses are nondeductible personal expenses. However, there are some special situations when your commuting costs may be deductible:
1. Business stops
It may be convenient to stop at a business client’s office on the way to work or going home. In this case, you can deduct the cost of the commute between the client’s location and your regular place of business.
2. Multiple business locations
Maybe you work for a company with separate branch offices or other business sites. If you drive between two or more business locations during the course of the day, the cost of the travel is deductible.
3. Long-distance travel
Normally, you may commute to a nearby workplace. But you might have to go to a distant business location for a few days, weeks or even months on occasion. As a result, you don’t go to your regular job site. The IRS allows you to deduct daily travel costs of this long-distance commute.
4. Temporary assignments
Finally, you might be required to work at a far-flung business location for a long stretch. To accommodate this work, you might stay near the job site in a hotel and return home on weekends. If the assignment lasts less than one year, you may deduct your meals and lodging expenses (subject to certain limits). Best of all, you can usually deduct the cost of your weekend trips home.
If you pay the commuting costs yourself, they are deducted as miscellaneous expenses on your personal return. The deduction for all miscellaneous expenses, including unreimbursed employee business expenses, is limited to the excess above 2 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI). There are also potential commuter benefits available through your employer.
Contact us if you have questions about deducting your commuting expenses.