5 ways to write off out-of-the-ordinary ‘commuting’ costs — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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5 ways to write off out-of-the-ordinary ‘commuting’ costs

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We don’t have to tell you about the skyrocketing cost of gasoline. But you might need a reminder about the tax rules for business travel. Generally, you can’t deduct the cost of commuting to and from work, but you can write off certain out-of the-ordinary auto expenses.

Strategy: Squeeze every last deductible nickel out of your business travel. Don’t forget to keep detailed records to back up your claims.

Of course, you can deduct the cost of business trips to visit clients, but here are five other ways to deduct “commuting” expenses.

1. Short stops: It may be convenient for you to visit a client on the way to work or on the way home. As a result, 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 your company has several offices or branches, you might drive between two or more business locations during the day. As with other business travel, 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 during that period. In this case, you can deduct the cost of your daily commute, even though it’s long-distance travel.

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

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 your workplace and the school is deductible.

Tip: Unreimbursed employee travel expenses are deductible as miscellaneous expenses. You may deduct annual miscellaneous expenses above 2% of your AGI. Self-employeds can deduct these expenses in full.

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