Deducting Moving Expenses
Sometimes, you have to move because of a change in your job or business location. Or, maybe it’s because you start a new job or business. The IRS allows you to take a mileage deduction on your taxes for these moves. Let’s take a look at deducting moving expenses on your tax returns and the moving expense deduction rules.
Deducting Moving Expenses: The 3 Requirements
You can deduct your moving expenses only if you meet three requirements:
- the one year test
- the distance test
- the full-time work test
One Year Test
The basic rule is that you can only deduct moving expenses incurred within one year from the date you first reported to work at the new location. Yet, it isn’t necessary that you arrange to work before moving to a new location. As long as you actually go to work in that location, you can still take the deduction.
If you do not move within one year of the date you begin work, you ordinarily cannot deduct the expenses. The exception is if you can show that circumstances existed that prevented the move within that time.
Your new workplace must be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job location was from your old home. For example, if your old main job location was three miles from your former home, your new main job location must be at least 53 miles from your former home. If you had no previous workplace, your new job location must be at least 50 miles from your old home. If you go back to full-time work after a large period of part-time work or unemployment, your place of work also must be at least 50 miles from your former home.
Full-Time Work Test
You must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months immediately following your arrival in the the new job location. If you are self-employed, you must work full time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months. You’d also need to work a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months immediately following your arrival in the general area of your new work location. If your income tax return is due before you’ve met this test, you can still deduct moving expenses if you expect to meet it.
There are a few exceptions to these rules. These include death, disability and involuntary separation, among other things.
What Expenses You Can Deduct
If you qualify for the moving expense deduction, you can deduct all your reasonable moving expenses including:
- the cost of packing and transporting your household good and personal effects
- costs you incur to connect or disconnect utilities
- the cost of storing your household goods for up to 30 days after the day your things are moved from your former home and before they are delivered to your new home
- the cost of travel and lodging for yourself and family during the move, and
- your car expenses if you move by car–you can either deduct your actual expenses for gas and oil, or the standard mileage rate for moving.
You cannot deduct any of the following expenses:
- cost of meals while you move
- expenses that are reimbursed by your employer that are not included in your income
- any part of the purchase price of your new home
- car tags or driver’s license fees
- expenses of buying or selling a home (including closing costs, mortgage fees, and points)
- expenses of entering into or breaking a lease
- home improvements to help sell your home
- loss on the sale of your home
- pre-move house hunting expenses
- refitting of carpet and draperies
- return trips to your former residence
- security deposits (including any given up due to the move), or
- side trips for sightseeing during the move.
How to Deduct Moving Expenses
Moving expenses are figured on IRS Form 3903, Moving Expenses, and deducted as an adjustment to income on Form 1040. This makes them a particularly valuable deduction because you don’t have to itemize your deductions to claim them.
Refer to Publication 521, Moving Expense, for more information.
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