What Does The IRS Consider A Temporary Work Location?

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What Does The IRS Consider A Temporary Work Location?

In this week’s Ask the Tax Expert, a reader asks about the IRS definition of a “temporary work location.” This can be important to know if you plan to take a mileage deduction and drive from your home to a temporary work location.

IRS Temporary Work Location Definition

Q. I’m a W-2 employee for an agency that contracts me out on assignments. My agency is in New Jersey and I live in Massachusetts. My current assignment is scheduled to last only two years. It’s also about 15 miles from my home. Can I claim a deduction for my travel to and from this temporary office?

– Michael, Springfield, Mass.

A. No, you can’t. Travel from home to a regular work location is ordinarily not deductible. The IRS considers this to be commuting. Commuting is a personal expense and is never deductible.

The exception to the IRS commuting rule is when you travel from home to a temporary work location. Yet, the IRS defines a temporary work location as a place where you realistically expect to work less than one year. Your situation is not a temporary work location because your assignment is expected to last two years.

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Your situation probably still wouldn’t qualify for a temporary work location even if your assignment was expected to last less than one year.  This is because a temporary work location can be inside or outside of the metropolitan area where you live. But, if the location is inside your metropolitan area, you must have an outside office or other regular work location away from your home. With no outside office, you could only deduct your mileage when you travel from home to work assignments outside your metropolitan area.

Your metropolitan area is defined to be a region including a city and the densely populated surrounding areas that are socially and economically integrated with it. As a rule, your metropolitan area extends no more than 35 to 40 miles from your home. Since you’re only traveling 15 miles from home, you likely within your metropolitan area.

Stephen Fishman

Stephen Fishman

Stephen Fishman is a self-employed tax expert and regular contributor to MileIQ. He has dedicated his career as an attorney and author to writing useful, authoritative and recognized guides on taxes and business law for entrepreneurs, independent contractors, freelancers and other self-employed people. He is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Visit Fishman Law and Tax Files for more information on his work.
Stephen Fishman

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MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.