Unclaimed Mileage

Today TaxMama hears from Kim in South Carolina, who has been remiss. “I am a bookkeeper and did not claim mileage as unreimbursed employee expenses last year. Can I claim the 2008 mileage and 2009 on my 2009 taxes? Or did I just lose that mileage? I don’t want to amend the 2008 return if I don’t have to.”

Dear Kim,

It’s interesting the way you phrased the question. You are asking about employee expenses – so that means you had a job.
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You were not self-employed, right?
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OK, here’s the rule.

If you could have submitted the mileage or other business expenses to your employer for reimbursement, but didn’t, you may not deduct the expenses on your tax return.

However, if your employer has a policy of not paying for mileage or out of pocket expenses, you are entitled to the deduction in the appropriate year.

Before you amend your 2008 tax return, get written proof of your employer’s policy not to pay for the mileage. If the employer doesn’t have a written policy, just a verbal one – do this. Write it up on his letterhead, effective the date you started working there – and have your boss sign it. The policy must apply to all employees in a similar position for it to be valid.

You will need to attach this proof to your amended return.

Naturally, once you have this documentation, you may include these 2009 expenses on your 2009 return – without ever having to amend it. Do not include the 2008 expenses in 2009.

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

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