To deduct travel expenses, you must first determine the location of
your tax home.
Generally, your tax home is your regular place of business or post
of duty, regardless of where you maintain your family home. It
includes the entire city or general area in which your
business or work is located. If you have more than one regular place
of business, your tax home is your main place of business. See
Main place of business or work, later. If you do not have a
regular or a main place of business because of the nature of your
work, then your tax home may be the place where you regularly live.
See No main place of business or work, later.
If you do not have a regular place of business or post of duty and
there is no place where you regularly live, you are considered a
transient (an itinerant) and your tax home is wherever you
work. As a transient, you cannot claim a travel expense deduction
because you are never considered away from home.
Main place of business or work.
If you have more than one place of work, consider the following
when determining your main place of business or work.
- The total time you ordinarily spend working in each
- The degree of your business activity in each area.
- The relative amount of your income from each area.
You live in Cincinnati where you have a seasonal job for 8 months
each year and earn $25,000. You work the other 4 months in Miami, also
at a seasonal job, and earn $9,000. Cincinnati is your main place of
work because you spend most of your time there and earn most of your
No main place of business or work.
You may have a tax home even if you do not have a regular or main
place of work. Your tax home may be the home where you regularly live.
Factors used to determine tax home.
If you do not have a regular or main place of business or work, use
the following three factors to see if you have a tax home.
- You perform part of your business in the area of your main
home and use that home for lodging while doing business in the
- You have living expenses at your main home that you
duplicate because your business requires you to be away from that
- You have not abandoned the area in which both your
traditional place of lodging and your main home are located; you have
a member or members of your family living at your main home; or you
often use that home for lodging.
If you satisfy all three factors, your tax home is the home where
you regularly live, and you may be able to deduct travel expenses. If
you satisfy only two factors, you may have a tax home depending on all
the facts and circumstances. If you satisfy only one factor, you are a
transient; your tax home is
wherever you work and you cannot deduct travel expenses.
You are single and live in Boston in an apartment you rent. You
have worked for your employer in Boston for a number of years. Your
employer enrolls you in a 12-month executive training program. You do
not expect to return to work in Boston after you complete your
During your training, you do not do any work in Boston. Instead,
you receive classroom and on-the-job training throughout the United
States. You keep your apartment in Boston and return to it frequently.
You use your apartment to conduct your personal business. You also
keep up your community contacts in Boston. When you complete your
training, you are transferred to Los Angeles.
You do not satisfy factor (1) because you did not work in Boston.
You satisfy factor (2) because you had duplicate living expenses. You
also satisfy factor (3) because you did not abandon your apartment in
Boston as your traditional home, you kept your community contacts, and
you frequently returned to live in your apartment. You have a tax home
in Boston for travel expense deduction purposes.
You are an outside salesperson with a sales territory covering
several states. Your employer's main office is in Newark, but you do
not conduct any business there. Your work assignments are temporary,
and you have no way of knowing where your future assignments will be
located. You have a room in your married sister's house in Dayton. You
stay there for one or two weekends a year, but you do no work in the
area. You do not pay your sister for the use of the room.
You do not satisfy any of the three factors listed earlier. You are
a transient and have no tax home. Because you are never away from
home, you cannot deduct the cost of your meals and lodging as travel
Living away from your tax home.
If you (and your family) live in an area outside your tax home
(main place of work), you cannot deduct the cost of traveling between
your tax home and your family home. You also cannot deduct the cost of
meals and lodging while at your tax home. See Example 1
If you are working temporarily in the same city where you and your
family live, you may be considered as traveling away from home. See
Example 2, below.
You are a truck driver and you and your family live in Tucson. You
are employed by a trucking firm that has its terminal in Phoenix. At
the end of your long runs, you return to your home terminal in Phoenix
and spend one night there before returning home. You cannot deduct any
expenses you have for meals and lodging in Phoenix or the cost of
traveling from Phoenix to Tucson. This is because Phoenix is your tax
Your family home is in Pittsburgh, where you work 12 weeks a year.
The rest of the year you work for the same employer in Baltimore. In
Baltimore, you eat in restaurants and sleep in a rooming house. Your
salary is the same whether you are in Pittsburgh or Baltimore.
Because you spend most of your working time and earn most of your
salary in Baltimore, that city is your tax home. You cannot deduct any
expenses you have for meals and lodging there. However, when you
return to work in Pittsburgh, you are away from your tax home even
though you stay at your family home. You can deduct the cost of your
round trip between Baltimore and Pittsburgh. You can also deduct your
part of your family's living expenses for meals and lodging while you
are living and working in Pittsburgh.
Assignment or Job
You may regularly work within the city or general area of your tax
home and also work at another location. It may not be practical to
return home from this other location at the end of each work day.
If your assignment or job away from your main place of work is
temporary, your tax home does not change. You are
considered to be away from home for the whole period you are away from
your main place of work. Your travel expenses are deductible.
Generally, a temporary assignment in a single location is one that is
realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for one year or
However, if your assignment or job is indefinite, the
location of the assignment or job becomes your new tax home and you
cannot deduct your travel expenses while there.
An assignment or job in a
single location is considered indefinite if it is realistically
expected to last for more than one year, whether or not it actually
lasts for more than one year.
If your assignment is indefinite, you must include in your income
any amounts you receive from your employer for living expenses, even
if they are called travel allowances and you account to your employer
for them. You may be able to deduct the cost of relocating to your new
tax home as a moving expense. See Publication 521,
Expenses, for more information.
Exception for federal crime investigations or prosecutions.
If you are a federal employee participating in a federal crime
investigation or prosecution, you are not subject to the one-year rule
for deducting temporary travel expenses. This means you may be able to
deduct travel expenses even if you are away from your tax home for
more than one year.
For you to qualify, the Attorney General must certify that you are
- For the federal government,
- In a temporary duty status, and
- To investigate or prosecute, or provide support services for
the investigation or prosecution of, a federal crime.
You can deduct your otherwise allowable travel expenses
throughout the period of certification.
Determining temporary or indefinite.
You must determine whether your assignment is temporary or
indefinite when you start work. If you expect employment to last for
one year or less, it is temporary unless there are facts and
circumstances that indicate otherwise. Employment that is initially
temporary may become indefinite due to changed circumstances. A series
of assignments to the same location, all for short periods but that
together cover a long period, may be considered an indefinite
The following examples illustrate when you can and cannot deduct
travel expenses for a temporary assignment.
You are a construction worker. You live and regularly work in Los
Angeles. You are a member of a trade union in Los Angeles that helps
you get work in the Los Angeles area. Because of a shortage of work,
you took a job on a construction project in Fresno. Your job was
scheduled to end in eight months, and you planned to return to Los
Angeles at that time. The job actually lasted 10 months, after which
time you returned to Los Angeles. Your family continued to live in
your home in Los Angeles.
While in Fresno, you lived in a trailer you own. You returned to
Los Angeles most weekends and maintained contact with the local union
to see if you could get work in Los Angeles. You realistically
expected the job in Fresno to last eight months. The job actually did
last less than one year. Because you expected to return home when it
ended, your tax home is in Los Angeles for travel expense deduction
The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that you
realistically expected the work in Fresno to last 18 months. The job
actually was completed in 10 months.
Your job in Fresno is indefinite because you realistically expected
the work to last longer than one year, even though it actually lasted
less than one year. You cannot deduct any travel expenses you had in
The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that you
realistically expected the work in Fresno to last 9 months. After 8
months, however, you were asked to remain for 7 more months (for a
total actual stay of 15 months).
Initially, you realistically expected the job in Fresno to last for
only 9 months. However, due to changed circumstances occurring after 8
months, it was no longer realistic for you to expect that the job in
Fresno would last for one year or less. You can only deduct your
travel expenses for the first 8 months. You cannot deduct any travel
expenses you had after that time.
Going home on days off.
If you go back to your tax home from a temporary assignment on your
days off, you are not considered away from home while you are in your
hometown. You cannot deduct the cost of your meals and lodging there.
However, you can deduct your travel expenses, including meals and
lodging, while traveling from the area of your temporary place of work
to your hometown and back to work. You can claim these expenses up to
the amount it would have cost you for meals and lodging had you stayed
at your temporary place of work.
If you keep your hotel room during your visit home, you can deduct
the cost of your hotel room. In addition, you can deduct your expenses
of returning home up to the amount you would have spent for meals had
you stayed at your temporary place of work.
Probationary work period.
If you take a job that requires you to move, with the understanding
that you will keep the job if your work is satisfactory during a
probationary period, the job is indefinite. You cannot deduct any of
your expenses for meals and lodging during the probationary period.
Members of the Armed Forces.
If you are a member of the U.S. Armed Forces on a permanent duty
assignment overseas, you are not traveling away from home. You cannot
deduct your expenses for meals and lodging. You cannot deduct these
expenses even if you have to maintain a home in the United States for
your family members who are not allowed to accompany you overseas. If
you are transferred from one permanent duty station to another, you
may have deductible moving expenses, which are explained in
A naval officer assigned to permanent duty aboard a ship that has
regular eating and living facilities has a tax home aboard ship for
travel expense purposes.
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