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 Do we HAVE to claim a home office to be able to count the mileage from Home to the first job?
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Carmen A

Central, TX
43 Posts

Posted - 12/16/2011 :  9:30:16 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
I can't find the info for a friend online..was hoping ya'll might have the answer. Do we HAVE to claim a home office to be able to count the mileage from Home to the first job--then to all jobs--and then back home?? My thought are YES...but I can't find the necessary info for her online or prove it..... PLEASE HELP ME :)

Star Contributor

Houston, TX
1085 Posts

Posted - 12/17/2011 :  12:10:37 PM  Reply  Reply with Quote
Carmen, your home is your office whether you claim it for tax purposes or not. It is still your office for the purpose of mystery shopping or other independent contractor jobs. It is your primary workplace where you prepare for your work and is vital to your self-employment. However, it would be difficult to "claim" an office in your home for mystery shopping because of the requirements. The office needs to be used specifically for your business and nothing else. Just because you have a space allocated for a computer and some files would not fit the IRS requirements to claim it because you still use the space for your personal computer work. If you needed a large space to store items for your shopping, like boxes and boxes of brochures or something, then you might be able to get by with it. The deduction for a small office in your home would be minimal and not even worth the trouble.

The "commuting" is more for people who have regular jobs as "employees." They are considered commuting from their house to their regular place of employment. Then, if they have to go to other jobs, they can deduct that mileage.

But you are not going to your "regular place of employment as an employee." You are an independent. It is like a person who has a lawnmowing company. They have to load up their truck and take the mowers, etc, with them from their homes to the first job, then the second. All their mileage is for a business deduction. They are using their vehicle for the business. You are using yours for the business also since you have to take with you your paperwork, etc. But, as with the lawnmowing company, they might not use enough of their home exclusively for the business to claim an office in their house.

There are many that will argue this point about the commuting miles and insist that you need to claim "commuting miles." I have a tax expert who was with the IRS for 30 years. He knows that I claim all my mileage.

There has been a lot written about this on this forum. If you look through the posts, you will find more info. But if you are uncomfortable about anything, find a tax expert and question them about it.

I actually need a large space in my home because I do store a lot of boxes for a client of mine. But, even though I could claim it, I choose not to. It is still my office.

And just think, if you only had one job per day, and it was 50 miles from your house (or 100 miles round trip) would you think it fair that you cannot claim mileage to your "first job" and home again? You would be taking a great loss doing mystery shopping but actually showing a profit because of not being able to claim your mileage.

MSPA Gold Certified
Happily shopping the Houston, TX area.
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Burbank, CA
25 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2012 :  6:31:25 PM  Visit LolaKelly's Homepage  Reply  Reply with Quote
I have prepared taxes for 25 years. YOU do not write off a home office if you OWN the home. It is called Capital Gains, and when you sell your home, you have to pay back what you took to Uncle Sam.

If you rent, take the home office, but ONLY the space that you use. You also get your utilities, rent and insurance.

Mileage has nothing to do with a home office.

If you are an independent contractor you will use a Sch C. If you have a new car, take the mileage, if your car is 8 years of older, take all the repairs, gas and insurance. Just a rule of thumb.

Hope this helped you out.

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