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Dr. Fiona Chen
Dr. Fiona Chen, Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
Category: Tax
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Experience:  Former IRS Revenue Agent
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I am an employee in a construction company. I live in

Customer Question

I am an employee in a construction company. I live in Marysville Ca but my company is located in Woodland Ca,***** For the entire year the company sends me to different temporary work sites, all lasting less than one year. I travel from home directly to work sites which are anywhere from 60 to 120 miles one way. I am not reimbursed for mileage. Can I deduct mileage? If so from Marysville or Woodland?
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Dr. Fiona Chen replied 1 month ago.

Dear Customer,

1) From what you described, it seems that the travel distance outside your metropolitan area is deductible. Below is the citation from the IRS publication.

"Daily transportation expenses you incur while traveling from home to one or more regular places of business are generally nondeductible commuting expenses. However, there may be exceptions to this general rule. You can deduct daily transportation expenses incurred going between your residence and a temporary work station outside the metropolitan area where you live. Also, daily transportation expenses can be deducted if: (1) you have one or more regular work locations away from your residence or (2) your residence is your principal place of business and you incur expenses going between the residence and another work location in the same trade or business, regardless of whether the work is temporary or permanent and regardless of the distance."

2) That is, distance within the metropolitan area is not well defined. But you should be able to justify what is the normal range of your usual area of working area. A court case has defined 35 miles. There are companies defining 50 miles away from home. That is, when you travel outside your metropolitan area, even it is just one direct driving without other stops, the extra miles are deductible.

3) You need to count the times you go to the office or whether you are required to go to the office. If you are not required to routinely to go to the office, count your distance from home.

4) You can count the mileages you go to your tax professional, to bank, to the office, and to pick up building materials. There are companies requiring frequent stops to fill gas in trucks.

5) You can only deduct your employee expenses on Schedule A, under Miscellaneous deduction subject to 2% of your adjusted gross income. That is, the law thinks that we all need to take 2% of our adjusted gross income for employee expenses. As a result, not many employees are able to deduct the employee expenses because even if they have the expenses, the expenses are not higher than the 2% of adjusted gross income. Adjusted gross income is the amount on the bottom of the Form 1040, personal tax return, page 1, last line.

5) Once you can deduct mileages, you may be able to consider to deduct cell phone cost. A lot of construction companies communicate with their employees via cell phones all the times without paying the employees' phone cost. Also, in some jobs, the employees may be required to use their own tools, etc. Some other items are such as, required safety hat and shoes paid by the employee, union dues, etc.

6) Please try to recall whether you ever stopped some place as the first stop out from home and last stop before you come home. Look at your job log book and try to remember. Since this is still very close to the dates of travel, you probably can remember. Later on, you want to make sure you have daily and timely record. You need to record your starting mileage exactly, say miles on the dashboard is 11,900 when I arrive at the first stop and the ending mileage when I went to the second job site is 11,970. To take the 70 miles deduction, I have to have the record for the beginning mileage and ending mileage reading. Once you are used to recording, the daily log is not that hard to keep.

In general, direct travel from home to the job site is commuting mileage and is not deductible. However, if from the first job site, you travel to different other job sites, those mileages are deductible. In your case, the miles outside your metropolitan area is deductible.

The following citation and website links are for your further references. Please continue to read. They are informative and interesting.

Please feel free to follow up.


Fiona Chen, MPA, Ph.D., CPA, ABV, CFF, CITP

This chapter discusses expenses you can deduct for business transportation when you are not traveling away from home as defined in chapter 1. These expenses include the cost of transportation by air, rail, bus, taxi, etc., and the cost of driving and maintaining your car.

Transportation expenses include the ordinary and necessary costs of all of the following.

  • Getting from one workplace to another in the course of your business or profession when you are traveling within the city or general area that is your tax home. Tax home is defined in chapter 1.

  • Visiting clients or customers.

  • Going to a business meeting away from your regular workplace.

  • Getting from your home to a temporary workplace when you have one or more regular places of work. These temporary workplaces can be either within the area of your tax home or outside that area.

Transportation expenses do not include expenses you have while traveling away from home overnight. Those expenses are travel expenses discussed in chapter 1 . However, if you use your car while traveling away from home overnight, use the rules in this chapter to figure your car expense deduction. See Car Expenses , later.

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