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-- Posted: June 19, 2000

Dorothy Rosen -- The Dollar Diva Ask the Dollar Diva

Can I deduct moving expenses?

Dear Dollar Diva,
We live in Michigan, and we purchased a home in Florida. My husband has not found a new job in Florida, but plans to find one as soon as we get there.

Does he have to have a job prior to the move to deduct the moving expenses on our tax return?

The quick answer is "No." But, of course, when it comes to tax questions, it's never that easy. There are two tests to pass to deduct your moving expenses: the distance test and the time test.

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Distance test

You pass the distance test if the new job would add 50 miles or more to your current commute. This one's a slam-dunk.

Time test

You pass the time test if you are employed full-time for at least 39 of the 52 weeks following the move. The 39 weeks do not have to be consecutive and do not have to be with the same employer. But there's only 13 weeks of wiggle room, so it may take some hustling to pass this test.

If you deduct your moving expenses and later find you didn't pass one of the two tests, you have two options:

  • Amend the original tax return by filing a Form 1040X
  • Include the moving expenses in gross income the following year

The moving deduction rules differ for different categories of people, such as the self-employed, members of the armed forces, and retirees whose former home was outside the United States.

What you can deduct

Here are the main costs you can deduct.

  • Packing, crating and transporting your furniture, clothing, car, and other household and personal items to the new location. This also includes the pet boas and pythons.
  • Storing and insuring your stuff for any 30 consecutive days between moving from the old home to the new one.
  • Lodging and travel for one trip from Michigan to Florida. Plane fare, train fare, or tolls, parking and either 10 cents a mile or actual out-of-pocket costs for gas and oil. Costs for meals and other trips taken to scope the area and go house-hunting are not deductible.

For other moving tips, read the Diva's "Make your move."

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