Getting to work can be expensive for those who live a long way from their job. It would be nice if you could claim a tax deduction for some or all of the costs associated with commuting to your job, but most people cannot. Commuting to and from work is considered a personal expense. It's not tax-deductible any more than that cup of coffee you grabbed on your way.
The only people who may be able to claim a deduction for unreimbursed employee expenses include Armed Forces reservists, qualified performing artists, fee-basis state or local government officials, and employees with impairment-related work expenses.
If you are self-employed, though, there may be some deductions you can still take for mileage.
- Miscellaneous itemized deductions, including miles driven for work, were eliminated by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.
- You may be able to deduct commuting miles for required travel from one business location to another or for temporary assignments at a new location.
- Business miles can be deducted at a rate of $0.56 per mile for tax year 2021 and $0.585 per mile for tax year 2022.
- You can deduct business miles in many more situations if you are self-employed.
Changes to Mileage Deductions
In previous tax years, self-employed people, most businesses, and even many individual taxpayers were able to deduct mileage for business purposes. But for the tax years from 2018 to 2025, many of these deductions for individuals have been eliminated.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) got rid of most miscellaneous itemized deductions. This includes the one for miles driven for work purposes. If the TCJA is not renewed in 2026, these deductions may return.
There are few circumstances when individual taxpayers can still deduct mileage expenses from their income.
For those who qualify, the deduction is actually an adjustment to income (above the line) rather than an itemized deduction listed on Schedule A.
Mileage Deduction for Traveling Away From Home
In general, you can't deduct travel expenses to and from your tax home. This is your regular place of business (or post of duty). It includes the entire city or general area where the business or place that you work is located. If the type of work that you do means you don't have a regular place of business, then your tax home may be where you live.
Commuting might qualify as an itemized deduction if your employer requires that you travel from one business location to another. An example of this would be commuting from your regular place of employment to a branch office or anywhere else to do business on your employer's behalf.
To take this deduction, your employer can't reimburse you for any of the mileage you are deducting. You can't deduct expenses associated with traveling from your own home to your tax home.
Mileage Deduction for a Temporary Assignment
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows a deduction for mileage when you are traveling away from your tax home for a temporary assignment. If you drive from home to your regular place of employment, that mileage is not deductible. But if your employer requires that you work somewhere else, this mileage may be deductible.
To deduct this mileage, your assignment must be temporary. If you are assigned to a new place of business indefinitely, it becomes your new tax home. You won't be able to deduct mileage for commuting to and from there.
How Travel Miles Work
If you travel 800 miles a month from home to work on an offshore oil rig, this does not qualify for a deduction. Even if the location of the rig changes, your commuting expenses would be a nondeductible personal expense. Each rig is your regular place of employment and tax home while you are working there.
If your employer, though, puts you on desk duty in the home office with the understanding that you will return to work on the rig in less than a year, travel to this location can be deducted. Because you know the assignment will last for less than a year, it is considered temporary. In that case, if you have to drive from the home office to the rig to do an errand for your employer, this qualifies as deductible mileage.
You would also be able to deduct mileage if you drive from the office—or from the rig, for that matter—to a client's or customer's location or to a business meeting.
Standard Mileage Rate vs. Actual Expenses
The standard mileage rate deduction for the 2021 tax year is $0.56 per mile and $0.585 for the 2022 tax year. You have the option of claiming this or a percentage of your actual vehicle expenses instead. These expenses include:
- Registration fees
The percentage is your business miles versus personal miles. If you drive 36,000 miles a year with 18,000 miles dedicated to business use, you can deduct 50% of your actual expenses.
If you qualify, you can claim this deduction as an employee business expense using Form 2106. If you qualify but failed to claim the deduction, you can generally go back up to three years and amend your tax returns.
You must itemize rather than take the standard deduction to claim this expense, and your total employee business expenses must exceed 2% of your adjusted gross income. You can claim a deduction for the balance over this amount.
The rules change dramatically if you're self-employed. Whenever you leave your business location, you can begin tallying up your miles and costs from the moment you leave that place. This is true whether you work from home or maintain a business location elsewhere as long as you're traveling for business purposes. In this case, you can claim a standard mileage rate of $0.56 per mile for the tax year 2021.
If you visit a client 20 miles away from your place of business, you can take a deduction based on 40 miles for the round trip. But you cannot deduct any mileage that is not for business use. If you make a side trip on your way home to stop for dinner with friends, your deduction is still based on the 40 miles you drove for work. You would claim your business mileage on Schedule C; you would not have to itemize to claim the deduction.
There are other reasons you may need to deduct mileage. For the 2021 tax year (filed in 2022), you can deduct $0.16 per mile for medical travel (if your medical expenses exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income) or $0.14 per mile that you drive for charity. The standard rate for medical miles will go up to $0.18 for the 2022 tax year.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Expiration
The TCJA will expire at the end of December 2025 unless Congress takes steps to renew it. If it expires, miscellaneous itemized deductions might return to the tax code in 2026. Until that time, though, you're more or less out of luck if you must travel for work purposes unless you're self-employed.