Can College Students Deduct Car Mileage on Income Tax?
Whether you drive across town or across the country to attend college, your mileage isn't a tax write-off. You or your parents can deduct tuition and fees, but fees don't include the price of gas. There are special circumstances in which you may be able to claim a mileage deduction, but they don't relate to being a student.
Drive to the Doctor
If you or your parents write off medical expenses, you can include travel as one of the costs. This includes bus fare, taxi costs, ambulance expenses and the price of driving to doctors or hospitals. As of 2013, you can deduct 24 cents a mile, plus any parking fees or tolls. The bad news is, you have to itemize to write off medical costs. Take 10 percent of your adjusted gross income and subtract it from your deductible medical expenses. What remains is what you get to write off.
If you land a post-college job that requires relocating, you can write off the costs of the move. That includes a 24 cent deduction per mile if you drive to your new home. Just moving out of the house and down the street doesn't cut it. Your first full-time job has to be at least 50 miles from your home to claim the write-off. You also need at least 39 weeks of full-time work in the year following the move.
If you help pay for college by working on the side, your work-related driving may be another write-off. If you work for yourself, you can deduct business driving from your business income at 56.5 cents per mile. If you're an employee and don't get reimbursed, you can write off mileage as an employee expense if you itemize deductions. The IRS sets limits on what you can claim: driving from your dorm room to your workplace isn't deductible mileage, for instance.
If you take a per-mile deduction, you need a record of the miles you drove, the dates and the reason the trip is a write-off. You can instead claim actual expenses -- the share of your gas, repairs, oil changes and so on that you can credit to your trip. If 5 percent of your driving this year is a medical deduction, you can deduct 5 percent of your total expenses. That requires a lot more record-keeping.
A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.