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I'm a self-employed individual who works in the event setup/execution/teardown industry. I am preparing my taxes and I'm trying to figure out if I can deduct my mileage spent commuting from my house to my event sites.

The IRS defines commuting as not tax deductible and business miles as tax deductible.

Some articles I read make it sound like driving to and from work is never tax deductible. Other articles I read made it sound like it might be tax deductible if you aren't driving to your main place of work (I don't really have a main place of work, each event is at a different location) or if your main place of work is your house (my house might be my main place of work, I do a lot of e-mailing from home but I also travel to and spent time at a lot of events).

I drove 3,878 miles this year from my home to events and back. It was 32 unique events in 38 unique locations. This has the potential to reduce my taxes by hundreds of dollars, but I don't want to do it wrong and get audited and penalized.

What do you guys think? Is this mileage deductible?

  • My understanding is that if you have a home-based business (your home address is your business address), then as long as you conduct business at home in some way (even something as simple as reviewing the balance of the business' checking accounts via online banking), on the same day, before leaving, the drive becomes "travel from one business location to another" and thus qualifies as "business miles" instead of "commuting". But this is based on a home business seminar from long ago, so I'm not submitting it as an answer. Also: I Am Not A Lawyer. – Dan Henderson Aug 19 '15 at 20:12
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I looked at Publication 463 (2014), Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses for examples. I thought this was the mot relevant.

No regular place of work. If you have no regular place of work but ordinarily work in the metropolitan area where you live, you can deduct daily transportation costs between home and a temporary work site outside that metropolitan area.

Generally, a metropolitan area includes the area within the city limits and the suburbs that are considered part of that metropolitan area.

You cannot deduct daily transportation costs between your home and temporary work sites within your metropolitan area. These are nondeductible commuting expenses.

This only deals with transportation to and from the temporary work site.

Transportation expenses do not include expenses you have while traveling away from home overnight. Those expenses are travel expenses discussed in chapter 1 . However, if you use your car while traveling away from home overnight, use the rules in this chapter to figure your car expense deduction. See Car Expenses , later.

You will also have to consider the cost of tolls of the use of a trailer if those apply.

  • In service professions, it's not uncommon to charge a "trip fee" for work done on the customer's site, which is a way to pass the cost of that first leg along to the customer. – keshlam Mar 22 '15 at 0:06

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