With the 2018 rule changes regarding the tax deduction for business expenses, many Americans find themselves asking, "Can you claim mileage to and from work?" Whether or not you can write off mileage from driving to and from a second job depends on two main factors: whether you are working as an employee or contractor; and if the trips qualify as commutes. If your miles do qualify as write-offs, you'll need to track them correctly and not submit other vehicle-related expenses.
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Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Effects
Before 2018, you could write off mileage as an employee if you were driving on business-related trips and were not reimbursed for the travel by your employer. For example, if your boss asked you to make a delivery in another town or pick up supplies from a vendor each week, you could write off those miles. With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, beginning January 1, 2018, employees could no longer itemize and write off unreimbursed business-related expenses.
Only the self-employed, gig workers, sole proprietors, contractors and other non-employees (with a few other specific exceptions) can now write off expenses. If you have two jobs and work as an employee for both companies, you can't write off your mileage. If you are a contractor for your second job, you might be able to write that mileage off – but the trips can't be considered commutes.
Of course, if your mileage deduction adds up to less than your standard deduction, you probably wouldn't have benefited from itemizing anyway.
Commuting vs. Traveling
The IRS has ruled that trips to the same place of employment each trip are commutes, not business travel, even if the trips are made by independent contractors.
For example, if a tennis coach who works as a contractor travels from subdivision to subdivision to teach lessons, she can write off her business mileage. If she works as a contractor at the Smithville Racquet Club and only teaches there, she can't deduct her daily trips because she is commuting to her place of work and can't claim commute mileage on taxes.
If you are traveling to a second job, even as a contractor, you might not be able to deduct those trips if you're going to the same location each time. If you work irregularly, say, several times a month, you might be able to write off those miles. Talk to a tax professional to find out if your second-job mileage is deductible.
Writing Off Mileage
If you determine that you are allowed to deduct mileage while working a second job, you can take a deduction of 56 cents per mile for 2021 travel. The deduction increases to 58.5 cents per mile in 2022. The IRS does not allow you to go back, estimate your mileage and submit a single number with no documentation.
While you don't need to submit your documented trips and mileage, if you are audited, you will need to show that you kept track of your miles as you accumulated them. You don't have to write them down each trip, but on a regular basis, you should log your miles, include the date and location of travel and note the purpose of the trip.
Once you write off your mileage, that covers the expenses related to maintaining and operating your vehicle, so you cannot also write off your gas, oil, tires, repairs and loan or lease payment.