Given the following:
I am an hourly wage employee of a company. At the beginning of each calendar year, I get a W-2 showing my wages earned and taxes withheld for the previous year.
The company pays field staff for mileage at a rate of $0.50 per mile but only if daily mileage exceeds 35 miles and for miles above the base 35 miles. The mileage paid is based on the shortest route, according to Google Maps, between my home and the job site.
The IRS establishes mileage reimbursement rates for business use of a personal vehicle. The rates I'm talking about are $0.54 / mile for 2016 and $0.535 / mile for 2017.
In the past, my mileage reimbursement rate was based on the IRS guideline. Some years the rate went up, other years it went down. Despite fluctuating, the rate was always tied to the IRS allowance, never fixed at a rate well below the IRS allowance.
In some cases, the mileage reimbursement rate I was paid exceeded the IRS allowance by as much as $0.05 - $0.10 / mile and I vaguely remember the amount above the IRS allowance being taxed as income.
As a wage employee, do I have a reasonable expectation of getting any mileage reimbursement from my employer? Should the rate be tied to the IRS rate? Or is the current arrangement actually okay because I really have no claim to mileage reimbursement from the employer? Or is it possible my employer is taking advantage of field staff; pay field staff $0.04 / mile under the IRS rate but use the IRS rate on company tax forms and "pocket the difference"? (Yes, I know no actually money is changing hands)