QUESTION: I’m self-employed and receiving a 1099-MISC for my income, can I deduct commuting expenses on my Schedule C for my commute between my home and my job? —Bernard Weil, New York, NY
ANSWER: Even if you’re self-employed you can’t write off the expenses associated with your commute between your home and the office. However, air, rail, bus, taxi or automobile expenses incurred while visiting clients or traveling from home to a temporary workspace are fair game, says Jay Silver, managing director at CBIZ Mahoney Cohen in New York. To calculate how much you spend on such travel, you can generally use one of two methods: standard mileage rate or actual car expenses.
When using the standard-mileage-rate method, make sure to keep track of your business miles. And keep in mind that you can only deduct miles in excess of your regular commute, says Silver. For miles driven after January 1, 2009, the standard mileage rate is 55 cents per mile. So, if your commute is five miles each way and you venture out to a temporary worksite that’s 25 miles each way, you can only deduct a total of 40 miles.
While the standard-mileage-rate method is often the easiest mode of deducting business transportation expenses, you could save some additional taxes by using the actual car expenses method, says Silver. This method allows you to simply deduct your actual vehicle expenses, which include repairs, parking fees and tolls.
No matter what method you choose, report your transportation expenses on line nine of Schedule C (Form 1040). (For our story on writing off car expenses click here. And for more details, check out IRS Publication 463.)
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