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Can You Write Off Miles Driven to Work?

Manasa Reddigari

For many self-employed workers, getting to and from work requires a road trip of a few or even several miles. Nearly 600,000 Americans have "mega commutes" of 50 miles or more, according to U.S. Census data. Hard-working commuters are left asking, "Can you write off miles driven to work?" Read on for tips in determining whether miles driven to work are deductible.      

Can You Write Off Miles Driven to Work: Probably Not

It comes down to deductible business transportation expenses versus nondeductible commuting expenses. The current IRS mileage rate allows taxpayers to deduct 54 cents per mile for business transportation expenses.    

Deductible business transportation expenses can include the ordinary and necessary costs associated with:  

  • Going from one workplace to another for business while traveling within the area of your tax home (tax home being the entire city or general area of your regular place of business)
  • Going to visit customers or clients
  • Going to a business meeting outside your regular workplace
  • Going from your home to a temporary workplace either within or outside of your tax home when you have one or more regular workplaces

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If you drive for work away from home overnight, the IRS considers it travel expenses.    

The biggest omission from the list above: traveling to or from your home to your regular place of work. The IRS considers this commuting and it's not deductible. This applies even if you have a "mega commute," or even if you take business calls during the drive.

When Can You Write Off Miles Driven to Work?

There are a some exceptions to the commuting rule. These include, among others:    

Do you operate a home office and take the home office deduction? If so, you may deduct some of the costs of driving between home and an office. This is because you're technically driving from one office to another.    

Do you have one or more regular workplaces away from your home? If you commute to a temporary work site for the same business, you may deduct the round-trip cost of transportation between your home and the temporary site.    

No regular place of work? You may deduct the transportation costs between your home and a temporary work site outside that metro area. This applies as long as you still ordinarily work in the metro area in which you live.    

Do you work at two places during the day? You may deduct the cost of getting from one work site to another. Some limitations apply if you do not make a direct trip from one site to the other.

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