Any tax experts? Help!

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by timecarter, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. timecarter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    My current work situation requires me to travel extensively. On days that I am not traveling I am generally working from my home. All of my travel expenses are reimbursed including any miles driven in my private vehicle.

    On certain occasions I am required to commute 40 miles to my office.

    Last year I kept very detailed records of time spent on the road, at home, and in the office. I spent a total of 152 days either on the road or at home and only 100 days in the office.

    My question. Since I don't spend the majority of my time in the office can I deduct the 40 miles it takes to drive to work on those occasions where I need to make the commute?

    I guess it's a matter of what is considered my primary work place... Correct?
  2. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    You can't deduct commuting costs.
  3. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    It would at this time help enormously if you'd post which country you are in...
  4. patrickdunn macrumors 6502a


    Apr 16, 2009
    St. Louis, MO
    You probably won't be able to deduct those miles.

    The IRS does say "The expenses of commuting to and from work are not deductible." It's tricky because you have some grey area.

    Here is Instructions for Form 2016, which may be of some help:

    Disclaimer: I am not a tax attorney or accountant. I just have a degree in Accounting and Finance and do my own taxes. I am not liable if the IRS knocks down your door! Good luck! Let me know what you find out.
  5. iOrlando macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2008
    commuting expenses are not deductible. You even got reimbursed for them, so of course you cant deduct them.

    it seems like your question was more of a primary workplace was home not the actual workplace, but in the end, you are still on someone's else's payroll and you cannot deduct business expenses.

    if you owned your own business, that would be a whole other thing.
  6. timecarter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    Sorry, this is for the United States.

    Gray area is the truth. I don't really understand the definition of tax home that is outlined in Pub. 463.

    If I can consider my home as my tax home then my "commute" to my office or temporary work area, is not a general expense and should be deductable.

    Yikes I have a headache.

    I do not get reimbursed for vehicle mileage from my home to the office.

    Yea, I see this to. But is this a requirement under the IRS's definitions... You can be on someones payroll and not work in there office, i.e. private contractor.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Instead of asking for tax advice on an internet forum, I highly recommend you contact a tax accountant. The risks of making a mistake that can cost you serious money is too high.
  8. timecarter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    Yea. I think your right.
  9. iOrlando macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2008
    i think i understand what you are asking.

    you generally work from home, but are required to drive into an "office" every once in a while, so is that expense deductible.

    if you are filling as a regular taxpayer with a W-2, no you can not deduct that expense. if you could, then everyone and their mother would be deducting commuting expense. Very few expenses related directly to your job is deductible, especially when you get reimbursed for it. I do know teachers can deduct up to $250 worth of school supplies, but besides that I am not aware of any well-known and widely-used deductibles. (taxes are stupid...there are so many random things and one-line items about it, i'm sure there is a way to do anything and someone act like it is legal haha).

    private contractors are a whole other ballpark, and I probably should not even tackle that since I am not too keen on that tax area.
  10. iOrlando macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2008
    probably is you cant ask for advice from a great one for free. tax accountants generally rip you a huge one with greatly exaggerated fees and are not worth it unless you have such a complicated issue that you cant possible figure it out, and the OP's situation is not that complicated.
  11. timecarter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    Yea, Orlando, you got it.

    I am a W-2 employee.

    Honestly my father in law came up with his idea and his father is a tax accountant who said it was possible. I want other opinions though because the tax code is really difficult to read, especially pertaining to this area.
  12. iOrlando macrumors 68000

    Jul 20, 2008
    sure is difficult to read. There have been countless of studies with people going to different tax "experts" with their returns and seeing what the end results are. Surprise Surprise, they were all different depending on where you went, h&r block, taxcut, etc, etc.

    my general thoughts are: unless you make more than $300,000 or so a year, it really doesnt matter a whole lot what you do. Just try your best and if you really think something is wrong, dont do it.

    i have a friend who clearly does something wrong on his taxes each year, i'm like..dude that is so illegal, and hes like no its not, i think that it is the correct way and that is what i will say all the way to jail. he is right though. simple/minor mistakes can always just be paid with fees if ever you are audited.

    if you make 1 million from a tv contest and dont declare it, thats a whole other situation.
  13. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
    That answers your question. You're not considered a contractor. So, the expenses are not deductible.

    FYI, for those whose jobs do pay for mileage expenses, you and the company is required to document the expenses monthly and be reimbursed, so they wouldn't fall under income.

    Tax professionals, like your relative, may tell you that you can do something, but it's your butt that is ultimately on the line. Read about all this on the IRS website. Don't ever take a tax professionals work on your taxes without asking lots of questions or researching those items that fall under "gray" areas.
  14. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    I have no opinion your question, other than to say... call the IRS. They'll be happy to tell you what they think. Once you have a first opinion, don't be afraid to call again once you have thought about the advice, and read the relevant sections of the tax code. Make sure you get them to tell you the tax codes sections they are using to make their decision. If you think you still have a grey area, call back again and argue your point quoting the actual tax code section. If - and only if - you get advice that supports your position get that person's name and document what time and day you called.

    Just because you follow the IRS agent's advice doesn't mean that you will a) have the deduction allowed initially, and b) then be able to keep the deduction. Getting the agent's particulars will only help you minimize penalties if higher powers determine the deductions aren't allowable. At least you can argue you were filing in good faith and with faulty IRS advice.

    Final Thought. Just because a private tax professional says that you can do something doesn't make it legal. I knew someone whose tax adviser was clearly telling them to do something that was illegal. Get good advice, not just professional advice. "Getting away with something" is not the same "Being allowed to." The danger of following a crooked tax professional's advice is that if any of their clients get audited (and you can bet they are all doing dodgey things) the audit trail leads back to the tax professional and then to all of their clients.

    I should also state that I'm not a tax expert in any sense, other than I have dealt with the Canadian version of the IRS more frequently than most lay people due to the complexity of my tax situation. I have come to respect the professionalism of the people whose job it is to give advice, and to fear the thoroughness of the auditors (luckily a group of people I have not had to deal with).

    Good Luck.
  15. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    That is to be expected, the tax code is something like 67,000 pages long plus thousands of court cases and other IRS documentation that have to be considered when something is questionable. There are some deductions, for instance, the office in the home deduction, that some tax professionals are willing to have clients take and others aren't because of possible problems if an audit is to arise. I would never expect two returns done by two different professionals (especially at different companies) to be the same.

    Yeah, but that isn't really the case. Just because you don't make $300,000 or more a year doesn't mean an audit can't end up costing you a lot of time, money, and frustration. A simple mistake could cost you thousands in penalties, fees, etc. As someone who has studied the tax code, it is my opinion that it is definitely best to allow someone with knowledge of its complexities to prepare your return (especially if it involves any gray areas or complex matters).

    Uh, that isn't always true. There are certain employee expenses which are deductible, one of them happens to be certain unreimbursed transportation expenses. Another example of a deduction employees can take is moving expenses in connection with beginning work at a new principal place of work (subject to the new job being at least 50 miles farther from the taxpayers old residence than the old job and that the employee must work at the new job for at least 39 weeks of a 12 month period).

    Good advice right there.

    My opinion on the OP's situation is that they are not deductible. The code specifically disallows expenses incurred when commuting between one's home and place of employment. Since your place of employment is the office, even though you spent less days there than at temporary workstations, the expense is not deductible. However, you should definitely consult a tax professional because there may be exclusions or inclusions that aren't commonly used or that people aren't aware of.
  16. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030


    May 18, 2004
    lol...even you think of it as commuting! My guess is that the IRS will too.

    I assume your employer doesn't pay you travel expenses to come into the office? Do they require you to work at home? Or is that simply for the sake
    of convenience?
  17. timecarter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 26, 2009
    Thanks everyone for your advice. I will get the opinion of other "professionals" but the quote below pretty much sums it up. While the risk of being audited may be low I still feel the need to ultimately do what is right.

  18. rhsgolfer33 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 6, 2006
    Let us know what a tax professional says. I'm kind of a tax nerd, so I'd be interested in learning any information regarding this. While my opinion is that the code is pretty clear, there are so many exceptions and definitions in the code that it is difficult to know exactly what the answer or applicable rule is. Good luck with your return!

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