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My wife and I have a very particular driving/office/home office situation which is bringing us doubts about (US) income tax and deductions.

My wife has several part-time jobs of 5-7 hours a week. She drives to all of them and uses a 60 sq ft area at home to handle paperwork and prepare her classes (she is a teacher).

I have a full time job and I officially have an office 10 miles from my home, but since all my team works from other cities I work from home, in another area of around 60 sq ft as well.

Our doubts:

  • Can she claim deductions for her driving to and from work? Considering most people use their cars mostly to commute to/from work, there must be limits to what you can consider "claimable" and what you can't, otherwise everyone would claim back 80% of their mileage.

  • Can she claim deductions for her home office?

  • Can I claim deductions for my home office, even though I have an official work place that is not in my home?

  • Can we claim deductions for our home internet service?

I understand it can all be seen as a somewhat grey area, but obviously I want to act in good faith, taking advantage of all the deductions I am entitled to and not lie to the IRS and get in trouble in the future.

  • Are any of these "jobs" self-employment (form 1099), or are they all employer/employee (form W-2) jobs? – Ben Miller Jan 28 '17 at 20:47
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    I started writing an answer, but then I realized that you've got four different questions up there. I think they would be best split up into four separate posts. I'm going to vote to put this question on hold as "too broad," and when you edit it down to just one of these questions, I'll vote to reopen it. – Ben Miller Jan 28 '17 at 20:58
  • They are all W-2 jobs. – Hill Jan 28 '17 at 21:12
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Can she claim deductions for her driving to and from work? Considering most people use their cars mostly to commute to/from work, there must be limits to what you can consider "claimable" and what you can't, otherwise everyone would claim back 80% of their mileage.

No, she can't. But if she's driving from one work site to another, that's deductible whether or not either of the work sites is her home office.

Can she claim deductions for her home office?

There's a specific set of IRS tests you have to meet. If she meets them, she can. If you're self-employed, reasonably need an office, and have a place in your house dedicated to that purpose, you will likely meet all the tests.

Can I claim deductions for my home office, even though I have an official work place that is not in my home?

It's very hard to do so. The use of your home office has to benefit your employer, not just you.

Can we claim deductions for our home internet service?

If the business or home office uses them, they should be a deductible home office expense in some percentage. Usually for generic utilities that benefit the whole house, you deduct at the same percentage as the home office is of the entire house. But you can use other fractions if more appropriate. For example, if you have lots of computers in the home office, you can deduct more of the electricity if you can justify the ratio you use.

Run through the rules at the IRS web page.

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