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Long-Distance Commuting Expenses Are Not Deductible

November 15, 2013

Corey C. Veneziano, CPA, MSAT
Tax Manager

The Tax Court has recently affirmed the rule that, with very limited exceptions, commuting expenses are non-deductible personal expenses (Cor, TC Memo. 2013-240). The Tax Court held that there is no special treatment for long-distance commuting expenses, regardless of circumstances. (The exception to this rule, which applies to expenses of commuting to a temporary job site, did not apply to the taxpayer’s situation.)

Very Long Commute Example

The taxpayer was an engineer living in Las Vegas and worked at a remote test site in the desert, approximately 80 miles away. There was no public transportation to the job site available to the taxpayer, and no housing near the job. As such, the taxpayer had to drive 160 miles roundtrip, four days a week, which took three hours each day.

Court's Conclusion

The court agreed that the taxpayer endured a more costly and longer commute, in both mileage and time, than the average commute. However, these circumstances did not change the general rule that getting between home and work for a regular job is a personal activity. The distance traveled and the lack of housing nearby did not change the law. The court noted that it reached the same conclusion as a 1976 Tax Court case involving similar circumstances.

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