Mileage to Minister

Today TaxMama hears from Larry in North Carolina, with this dilemma. “I have a part-time business servicing computers. I have a separate business checking account, file Schedule C, etc. I deduct business miles on a mileage basis. On occasion I do some computer work for my minister back home. It is a 180 mile round-trip. I do not charge him for my services. My question is, can I deduct the mileage rate for my travel to and from his location?”

Hey Larry,

It sounds as if you are a fine fellow. You’re doing everything right with respect to your business ethics. This is a good question.

Since your minister isn’t a paying client, and he’s not really in your usual service area – is the mileage deductible?

To make this a business deduction, there has to be some business purpose. Perhaps he sends you referrals? No doubt he has many nice things to say about you! Perhaps you use his system to learn about something specific that you use on other clients’ systems? Find a good business reason – then take the mileage.

If you can’t find a business reason, perhaps you can take the mileage as a charitable contribution on Schedule A? Unfortunately, charitable mileage is much lower than business mileage – it’s about 14 cents a mile (It can only be changed by an Act of Congress – literally).

See the latest mileage rates here: http://www.irs.gov/taxpros/article/0,,id=156624,00.html

This is the best I can do. I hope this helps.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about mileage and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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