Your wheels can become tax breaks if your trips are related to doing or finding work, charity or getting medical attention. Generally, you have your choice of deducting the actual costs of running your car or your mileage multiplied by the Internal Revenue Service's standard mileage rate. Of course, if you get reimbursed for mileage by your employer, you can't take the deduction.
For Job or Business
You can deduct, at 56 cents per mile for 2014 and 57.5 cents per mile for 2015, driving from your workplace or home office to job assignments, temporary work places, client or customer meetings and work-related training, or between job sites or assignments. Commuting between home and work doesn't qualify. For overnight trips, such as a convention, business must be the primary reason. Don't count personal junkets during the trip, and there is no deduction at all if you use the trip primarily for vacation. Also, you cannot use the standard mileage rate on a vehicle you own if you didn't do so the first year your car was available for use in your business. Then in subsequent years you can use either method. Mileage as an employee expense on Schedule A of Form 1040 is deductible only for amounts above 2 percent of adjusted gross income as reported on line 38, Form 1040. If you're self-employed, use Schedule C to claim it as a business expense.
Looking For Work
Mileage while job hunting may yield you tax relief. You can write off mileage to another area if you took the trip primarily to find a job in the same field in which you're working. Your mileage from one potential employer to another within the area qualifies, even if your trip into the area doesn't. The IRS allows you a deduction at 56 cents per mile in 2014, Job-search mileage and other miscellaneous expenses are deductible only to the extent they are above 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.
On the Move
You can write off your car's mileage in hauling you, your family and possessions to your new home. To qualify, you must move because of a new job or change in workplace. The distance from your former home to new job must exceed that from your former home to former job by at least 50 miles. For example, if you commuted 3 miles to your former office, your new job must be at least 53 miles away from the former home. Also, you must work full time for at least 39 weeks in the first year at your new location; self-employed taxpayers must log 78 weeks during the first two years. You report mileage and other moving expenses on line 26 of Form 1040, which means you don't have to itemize deductions. Mileage is deductible at 23 cents a mile in 2014 and 2015.
The IRS treats miles you put in to volunteer as charitable contributions. You must log your miles in service to an organization recognized by the IRS as charitable. Go to the IRS' Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool at IRS.gov to see if your group qualifies. You can count trips to a site for volunteer activities, such as a camp where you serve as a leader or chaperon, or a conference or meeting if you're a member or serve on a board or committee of, for instance, your church. You're allowed 14 cents a mile, in 2014 and 2015, for these volunteer trips. The deductions on contributions to charitable organizations are capped at 50 percent, 30 percent, or 20 percent of adjusted gross income, depending on the organization. Go to the IRS' Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool to learn the ceiling for your group.
Miles for Medicine
You can write off, at 23 cents per mile, trips to get medical care for you, your spouse or a dependent such as a child. Examples of eligible trips include those to the hospital; a doctor's, dentist's or therapist's office; and a treatment facility for drug or alcohol addiction. Getting cosmetic surgery doesn't qualify as a medical expense, unless the procedure is needed to correct or improve a deformity arising from a congenital abnormality, an injury from trauma or an accident, or a disease. These and other medical expenses are deductible only to the extent that they exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income.
- IRS.gov: Publication 463 -- Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses
- IRS.gov: Publication 526 -- Charitable Deductions
- IRS.gov: Standard Mileage Rates
- IRS.gov: Tax Topic 502 -- Medical and Dental Expenses
- IRS.gov: Publication 970 -- Tax Benefits for Education -- 12 Business Deduction for Work-Related Education
- IRS.gov: Publication 529 -- Miscellaneous Deductions
- IRS.gov: Publication 521 -- Moving Expenses
- IRS.gov: Deducting Business Expenses
- IRS.gov: Form 2106 -- Employee Business Expenses
- IRS.gov: Exempt Organizations Select Check
- IRS.gov: Instructions for Form 2106 -- Employee Business Expenses