Mileage to Minister

Today TaxMama hears from Larry in North Carolina, with this dilemma.
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“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?
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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?
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No doubt he has many nice things to say about you!
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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?
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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: https://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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