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Columns: Tax Talk
George Saenz, CPA   Expert: George Saenz, CPA
Tax Talk
Claiming a deduction for work-related mileage
Tax Talk

Deducting costs of college commute

Dear Tax Talk,
I am a teacher in Pennsylvania. I am commuting to college to take graduate courses. I am pursuing a graduate degree in educational administration. Can I claim my mileage for driving to and from campus? I have been trying to find the answer on my own, but as usual, am finding that there are no simple answers. Please help!
-- Jeff

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Dear Jeff,
Generally, if you can claim a business deduction for work-related education and you drive your car to and from school, you can claim a deduction for the mileage. You would use the standard mileage rate of 50.5 cents in 2008.

A business deduction for education expenses is distinct from either the Hope or Lifetime Learning credits, or the tuition and fees deduction allowed as an adjustment to adjusted gross income, or AGI, Form 1040, Line 34. In the case of these deductions or credits, mileage is not allowed unless the same educational expenses would qualify as a business deduction.

As a teacher, you would generally be an employee. If you're able to itemize your deductions, you may be able to claim a deduction for the expenses you pay for your work-related education. Your deduction will be the amount by which your qualifying work-related education expenses plus other job and certain miscellaneous expenses is greater than 2 percent of your AGI.

You can deduct the costs of qualifying work-related education as business expenses. This is education that meets at least one of the following two tests.

2 tests for education deduction:

However, even if the education meets one or both of the above tests, it is not qualifying work-related education under the following two conditions.

Education won't qualify for deduction if:

You can deduct the costs of qualifying work-related education as a business expense even if the education could lead to a degree. Publication 970, starting on Page 61, provides various examples of work-related education expenses for teachers.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: June 9, 2008
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