IRS Frowns on Most Deductions for Commuting

Article excerpt

The Internal Revenue Service usually is unyielding when it comes to a deduction for the cost of commuting between home and work. The general rule is that the outlay is a nondeductible personal expense.

It makes no difference that your work location is in a remote area not serviced by public transportation or that illness or disability rules out using public transportation.

For example, the IRS ruled that cab fares required to transport a physically disabled person to and from work are nondeductible. Nor does a write-off become available merely because you need a car for faster trips to work or for emergency trips, cautions John H.W. Cole, an attorney in Fairfax, Va. These restrictions also eliminate a deduction for payments to a car pool, whether each member takes a turn driving his or her own car or only one does all the driving. On the other hand, you need not report payments from riders unless they exceed your expenses. The IRS does make some exceptions to its blanket ban on deductions for commuting expenses. One of those exceptions authorizes a limited measure of relief for someone who needs to haul bulky tools or equipment that cannot go in a car. You are allowed to deduct the additional costs for hauling equipment, such as the charge for renting a trailer that is towed by your car. It matters not that you would use a car in any event to commute; the car costs, though, remain nondeductible commuting expenses. The Tax Court agreed with the IRS that the additional-cost exception could not be invoked by Ila Beards, who drove from her home in suburban Westchester County to her job as a teacher at a college in New York City. …


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