If you temporarily travel away from your tax home, you can use this chapter to determine if you have deductible travel expenses.
This chapter discusses:
- Traveling away from home,
- Temporary assignment or job, and
- What travel expenses are deductible.
It also discusses the standard meal allowance, rules for travel inside and outside the United States, luxury water travel, and deductible convention expenses.
For tax purposes, travel expenses are the ordinary and necessary expenses of traveling away from home for your business, profession, or job.
An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your business. An expense does not have to be required to be considered necessary.
You will find examples of deductible travel expenses in Table 1-1
You are traveling away from home if:
- Your duties require you to be away from the general area of your tax home (defined later) substantially longer than an ordinary day's work, and
- You need to sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away from home.
This rest requirement is not satisfied by merely napping in your car. You do not have to be away from your tax home for a whole day or from dusk to dawn as long as your relief from duty is long enough to get necessary sleep or rest.
You are a railroad conductor. You leave your home terminal on a regularly scheduled round-trip run between two cities and return home 16 hours later. During the run, you have 6 hours off at your turnaround point where you eat two meals and rent a hotel room to get necessary sleep before starting the return trip. You are considered to be away from home. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033752
You are a truck driver. You leave your terminal and return to it later the same day. You get an hour off at your turnaround point to eat. Because you are not off to get necessary sleep and the brief time off is not an adequate rest period, you are not traveling away from home. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033753
If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces on a permanent duty assignment overseas, you are not traveling away from home. You cannot deduct your expenses for meals and lodging. You cannot deduct these expenses even if you have to maintain a home in the United States for your family members who are not allowed to accompany you overseas. If you are transferred from one permanent duty station to another, you may have deductible moving expenses, which are explained in Publication 521, Moving Expenses.
A naval officer assigned to permanent duty aboard a ship that has regular eating and living facilities has a tax home (explained next) aboard ship for travel expense purposes. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033754
To determine whether you are traveling away from home, you must first determine the location of your tax home.
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 do not have a regular or a main place of business because of the nature of your work, then your tax home may be the place where you regularly live. See No main place of business or work
If you do not have a regular or main place of business or post of duty and there is no place where you regularly live, you are considered an itinerant (a transient) and your tax home is wherever you work. As an itinerant, you cannot claim a travel expense deduction because you are never considered to be traveling away from home. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033755
If you have more than one place of work, consider the following when determining which one is your main place of business or work.
- The total time you ordinarily spend in each place.
- The level of your business activity in each place.
- Whether your income from each place is significant or insignificant.
You live in Cincinnati where you have a seasonal job for 8 months each year and earn $40,000. You work the other 4 months in Miami, also at a seasonal job, and earn $15,000. Cincinnati is your main place of work because you spend most of your time there and earn most of your income there.taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033757
You may have a tax home even if you do not have a regular or main place of work. Your tax home may be the home where you regularly live.taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033758
If you do not have a regular or main place of business or work, use the following three factors to determine where your tax home is.
- You perform part of your business in the area of your main home and use that home for lodging while doing business in the area.
- You have living expenses at your main home that you duplicate because your business requires you to be away from that home.
- You have not abandoned the area in which both your historical place of lodging and your claimed main home are located; you have a member or members of your family living at your main home; or you often use that home for lodging.
If you satisfy all three factors, your tax home is the home where you regularly live. If you satisfy only two factors, you may have a tax home depending on all the facts and circumstances. If you satisfy only one factor, you are an itinerant; your tax home is wherever you work and you cannot deduct travel expenses.taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033759
You are single and live in Boston in an apartment you rent. You have worked for your employer in Boston for a number of years. Your employer enrolls you in a 12-month executive training program. You do not expect to return to work in Boston after you complete your training.
During your training, you do not do any work in Boston. Instead, you receive classroom and on-the-job training throughout the United States. You keep your apartment in Boston and return to it frequently. You use your apartment to conduct your personal business. You also keep up your community contacts in Boston. When you complete your training, you are transferred to Los Angeles.
You do not satisfy factor (1) because you did not work in Boston. You satisfy factor (2) because you had duplicate living expenses. You also satisfy factor (3) because you did not abandon your apartment in Boston as your main home, you kept your community contacts, and you frequently returned to live in your apartment. You have a tax home in Boston. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033760
You are an outside salesperson with a sales territory covering several states. Your employer's main office is in Newark, but you do not conduct any business there. Your work assignments are temporary, and you have no way of knowing where your future assignments will be located. You have a room in your married sister's house in Dayton. You stay there for one or two weekends a year, but you do no work in the area. You do not pay your sister for the use of the room.
You do not satisfy any of the three factors listed earlier. You are an itinerant and have no tax home. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033761
If you (and your family) do not live at your tax home (defined earlier), 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. See Example 1 that follows.
If you are working temporarily in the same city where you and your family live, you may be considered as traveling away from home. See Example 2, below. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033762
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. taxmap/pubs/p463-001.htm#en_us_publink100033763
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 roundtrip 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 Pittsburgh.