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Question:
If I drive my personal car from my home to the hospital and then to the church office, what part of that drive is eligible for the standard mileage rates? My church says that the total miles of the trip should be added and then the usual commute miles from home to office should be deducted from the trip total. I disagree because the miles are being driven for a ministry purpose and therefore not a commute.

Answer:
As you may know, commuting from home to church or other regular workplace is ordinarily not deductible. However, there is an exception when you travel between your home and a temporary work location. A temporary work location is any place where you realistically expect to work less than one year. It can be inside or outside of the metropolitan area where you live. However, if the location is inside your metropolitan area, this exception applies only where you have an outside office or other regular work location away from your home. You have a regular office, so you can deduct travel to temporary work location in or outside your metropolitan area.

A hospital (or other temporary locations) would certainly qualify as a temporary work location so long as it is truly “temporary.” The IRS says that if you expect to visit, or actually visit the hospital (or other work location) less then 35 days during the year, the hospital will qualify as a temporary work location and your mileage will be deductible. But if you visit the hospital for more than 35 days, it will not qualify as a temporary work location and you can’t deduct your mileage. (IRS Chief Counsel Advice 200026025.)

Driving to a temporary work location from home converts the entire trip into a deductible travel expense, so you can deduct all the mileage from home to the hospital. 

 

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Clergy Financial Resources serves as a resource for clients to help analyze the complexity of clergy tax law, church payroll & HR issues. Our professionals are committed to helping clients stay informed about tax news, developments and trends in various specialty areas.

This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.

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