Do I need to claim a home office deduction in order to deduct business mileage?

March 7th, 2018 → 1:53 pm @ // No Comments

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Hi Carol,

My accountant tells me I cannot take mileage because I don’t have a business office in my home and that I’d have to pick up mail at my post office box (to get a business-related starting point) and then drive to an event in order to take the mileage, which he does not recommend.
As a self-published author who sells books at events my understanding is that I can take mileage (to events and conferences) without a home office. Your book seems to confirm that, but I want to be sure that I understand this correctly.
Thanks so much.
June

June,

I think your accountant is more conservative than I am-and I’m a pretty conservative CPA! I also think he/she is mixing the definition of “regular place of business” with the requirements to deduct your home office expenses.

No where in IRS Publication 535 Business Expenses or Publication 334 Tax Guide for Small Businesses does it require that you must be eligible to take the Business Use of Your Home deduction in order for your home to be your “regular place of business.”

There is no IRS requirement that you pick up your mail at the post office either! The post office is not your regular place of business.I found where your accountant got that idea: http://dinesentax.com/511/home-offices-principal-place-of-business-and-mileage-deductions. It’s not from the IRS; it’s an idea from an accountant and Enrolled Agent who cites a Tax Court case. That case involved a man who worked at several sites all day long. That’s NOT your situation.

Be careful that you and your accountant understand that your “principal place of business” is not the same as being eligible to deduct the Business Use of the Home tax deduction.
You said, “I don’t have a business office in my home,” so where do you write?

It it’s not at your home, then I agree with your CPA.

But perhaps you meant that you don’t have place in your home that is exclusively used for your writing (i.e. you share a desk or table with your spouse, etc.) and therefore you are not eligible to deduct the Business Use of The Home expenses.

But you can still deduct mileage from you home as the regular or principle place of business.

True life example: I was not eligible for the Business Use of The Home deduction for many years because I shared my home office and computer with my children. But I still deducted legitimate business miles to drive from my home to meet clients, speak at events, etc. After my children left for college, the home office became exclusive use for my business and now I deduct Business Use of The Home expenses.

FWIW, Turbo Tax answered a similar question here: https://ttlc.intuit.com/questions/3069262-do-i-need-to-claim-a-home-office-deduction-in-order-to-deduct-business-mileage (They agree with me, but the details are different from June’s case)
Business Tips and Taxes for Writers Update 2018
Other helpful business tips can be found in my book, Business Tips and Taxes for Writers

It’s been updated to include the new changes to the tax laws!

Carol Topp, CPA

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