What Transportation Expenses Are Deductible on My Federal Tax Return?

by Herb Kirchhoff

    You can deduct unreimbursed expenses for business transportation within your local metropolitan area when you have a main workplace in the metro area. But you can’t deduct the costs of commuting between your home and your main workplace. Local business-transportation expenses are separate from expenses for overnight business travel away from home.

    You can deduct unreimbursed transportation costs between your main workplace and a temporary work location, such as a construction site. If you have a main workplace but are working at a temporary job location, you can deduct the costs of transportation from your home directly to the temporary work location. If you don’t have a main workplace, you can only deduct transportation costs from home to a temporary work site that is outside your metropolitan area.

    If you work at two different locations in the same day, whether for one employer or two different employers, you can deduct your costs of transportation from one workplace to the other. But you can’t deduct your costs of going from your second workplace to your home; those costs are considered commuting expenses. Similarly, if you work at a second job on your days off from your main employer, your costs of traveling between your home and that second job are nondeductible commuting expenses.

    If you use a home office as your main workplace, you can deduct costs of transportation from your home to another location where you conduct your trade or profession, such as paying a visit to a client or customer. If you don’t have a main workplace or home office, your costs of traveling from home to your first local business contact of the day is considered commuting, as is your trip home after your last local business contact of the day. You can deduct the costs of traveling from one business contact to another in the same day.

    You can deduct the costs of driving your car, truck or van on business, or your fares when taking public transportation on business. If you drive, you can deduct either your actual business transportation expenses or, as of 2012, take the standard mileage rate of 55.5 cents per business mile driven. You can also deduct business-travel-related tolls and parking fees. If you use your car for both business and personal purposes, you must keep a log of the business miles driven each day to each of the business places you visited.

    You must itemize deductions on Schedule A in order to claim local business transportation expenses. If you are an employee, you report your deductible transportation expenses on Form 2106. If you are self-employed, you report transportation expenses on Schedule C. Local transportation expenses are among miscellaneous deductions subject to the 2 percent income exclusion. That means you add your transportation expenses to your other miscellaneous deductions and deduct on Schedule A the portion of the sum that exceeds 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

    About the Author

    Herbert Kirchhoff has over 35 years experience as a newspaper and newsletter reporter, writer and editor, with 27 of those years spent on telecommunications industry policy issues. Kirchhoff has a B.A. in journalism from Rider University in New Jersey and has been published in the "Trenton (N.J.) Times" and in "Communications Daily" and State Telephone Regulation Report, Washington, D.C.

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