"home" determines which job expenses are deductible
I have lived for 15 years in Bakersfield, Calif.,
in my own home. I started working at Edwards Air Force base over
a year ago. I maintain an apartment in that area and stay three
nights a week, working four-to-10-hour days, coming home to Bakersfield
on days off. I can't sell my house in Bakersfield and move closer
to work because I share custody of my daughter with my ex-husband
and she goes to school in Bakersfield. Is the apartment a deductible
expense? -- Diana
Dear Tax Talk,
Because of my employment, I am required
to maintain a second residence (rental) and commute to my primary
residence, about 450 miles away, on weekends. Are any portions of
the expenses incurred in this deductible? My spouse did not relocate
because of her job. -- Hodges
Diana and Hodges,
In life you make personal choices. The tax law doesn't subsidize
To determine if you can claim travel expenses while
away from home, you have to determine where your tax home is. Generally,
your tax home is your regular place of business or post of duty,
regardless of where you maintain your family home. It includes the
entire city or general area in which your business or work is located.
If you (and your family) do not live at your tax home,
you cannot deduct the cost of traveling between your tax home and
your family home. You also cannot deduct the cost of meals and lodging
while at your tax home.
Internal Revenue Service Publication
463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses, provides
the following two examples:
Example 1. You are a truck
driver and you and your family live in Tucson. You are employed
by a trucking firm that has its terminal in Phoenix. At the end
of your long runs, you return to your home terminal in Phoenix
and spend one night there before returning home. You cannot deduct
any expenses you have for meals and lodging in Phoenix or the
cost of traveling from Phoenix to Tucson. This is because Phoenix
is your tax home.
Example 2. Your family
home is in Pittsburgh, where you work 12 weeks a year. The rest
of the year you work for the same employer in Baltimore. In Baltimore,
you eat in restaurants and sleep in a rooming house. Your salary
is the same whether you are in Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
Because you spend most of your working time and
earn most of your salary in Baltimore, that city is your tax home.
You cannot deduct any expenses you have for meals and lodging
there. However, when you return to work in Pittsburgh, you are
away from your tax home even though you stay at your family home.
You can deduct the cost of your round trip between Baltimore and
Pittsburgh. You can also deduct your part of your family's living
expenses for meals and lodging while you are living and working
In the second example, allowable expenses would be
claimed on Form 2016, Employee
Business Expenses. These deductions, however, must come to more
than 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before they will do
you any tax good.
In both of your situations, your tax home is not where
your family home is. The costs associated with either home are not