The Long Drive

Today Nick from Columbus, Georgia asks, “I live in Columbus, GA and work in Atlanta, GA. Since I work about 200 miles away from my residence, my company gives me a per diem. My question is, even though I get a per diem, can I claim my expenses as business expenses while I am in Atlanta?

Dear Nick,

You are certainly welcome to claim your actual expenses, or use the IRS per diem tables. When you do, you have to deduct the reimbursements your company paid you.

However, please, sit down with a good tax pro to find out how long you’re eligible for these deductions.

Why? Because commuting expenses are not deductible.

Your travel expenses will only qualify, temporarily. In other words, this must be a temporary job assignment or project. And it would help if you had a contract, letter or memo spelling that out.

If this is your permanent office, but you chose to live 200 miles away – Congress feels that’s your choice. So, the tax code gives you no benefits.

Sorry to spring that bad news on you.

Better you should find this out now, than after you’ve taken big deductions and have to pay it back.

If you do take the big deductions, expect to be audited More than a third of those returns are grabbed for audit.

You’ll find links to all kinds insights into how IRS works and other tax information at

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