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5 ways to pump up ‘commuting’ deductions

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in Small Business Tax,Small Business Tax Deduction Strategies

Gas prices have risen this year, but at least you can salvage some tax relief.

Strategy: Squeeze every last deductible dime out of your business travel expenses.

Although you generally can’t deduct the cost of going to and from work, you may be able to write off certain “commuting” expenses. Here are five prime examples.

1. Short stops: It may be convenient to visit a client on the way into work or on the way home. If you do, you can deduct the cost attributable to the travel between your regular place of business and the client’s business location.  

2. Separate offices: If you drive between two or more business locations during the day, you can deduct the costs between the different business locations.

3. Long-distance commuting: Suppose you spend a couple of weeks visiting a client’s office outside your local geographic area. You never go to your regular workplace. In this case, you can deduct the cost of your daily commute.

4. Temporary assignments: It may be necessary to work at a distant business site for a few months. Instead of commuting daily, you stay near the work site and come home on weekends. Assuming that the job lasts no more than a year, it qualifies as a temporary assignment. You can deduct lodging and meal expenses (within certain limits) plus the cost of the weekend trips.

5. Night school: If you’re taking courses at a local college to improve your job skills, you may go straight to school after work. The cost of travel between work and the school is deductible.

Tip: Unreimbursed employee travel expenses are deductible as miscellaneous expenses subject to the usual 2%-of-AGI limit.

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