Standard Mileage Rates Are Increasing: Find Out How Your Home Office Can Help You Deduct Even More

Jun 27 07:39 2008 TMWheelwright Print This Article

With gas prices on the rise, the IRS has announced an increase in standard mileage rates effective July 1st. For business miles, the rate is increasing from 50.5 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile.

With gas prices on the rise,Guest Posting the IRS has announced an increase in standard mileage rates effective July 1st. For business miles, the rate is increasing from 50.5 cents per mile to 58.5 cents per mile.

Who is impacted by this increase?

- If you reimburse your employees or are an employee that gets reimbursed for mileage, be sure the rate is the increased rate as of July 1st (assuming your employer uses the same rate).

- The increase also applies to medical and moving miles, which are increasing from 19 cents per mile to 27 cents per mile.

- If you use the standard mileage rate to deduct your business vehicle expense, this means an increase in the amount you can deduct.

**TIP** In your mileage log, be sure you can total your mileage before July 1st and after July 1st so your mileage after July 1st gets the new increased rate.

How Your Home Office Can Help You Deduct Even More Business Miles:

With the increase in gas prices, I have found that several of my most recent conversations with clients have been focused on the home office. With the rise in gas prices, more and more people are telecommuting, which means more and more home offices.

One of the great tax perks of a home office is being able to deduct travel to and from your home office. Sometimes travel to and from a home office is not deductible because it is considered commuting, but in certain circumstances, it can be a deductible business expense. If you use the standard mileage rate to calculate your business vehicle expense, deducting the travel to and from your home office, on top of the increase in standard mileage rates, can add up to big tax savings!

Here's how to make sure your travel to and from your home office is deductible so you can really take advantage of the increase in the standard mileage rates:

There are two requirements that must be met in order to deduct the travel to and from your home office.

First: Make sure your home office is used exclusively for business

The room or specific area in your home that you use as your home office must be used exclusively for business. So, for example, your home office doesn't qualify if it is a room that your family also uses as a den or a guest room that is used by overnight visitors.

Second: Make sure your home office qualifies as your principal place of business

The key to being able to deduct travel between your home office and other business offices or locations is making your home office your principal place of business.

If your home office is your only office and you use it on a regular basis to conduct your business, then it is most likely your principal place of business.

But what if you have another office location in addition to your home office?

Your home office is considered to be your principal place of business if:

It is the only fixed location in which you perform administrative or management activities for your business. These activities include billing customers, clients or patients, keeping books and records, ordering supplies, setting up appointments, forwarding orders, writing reports and other such tasks, OR

You regularly use it to meet with customers, clients or patients in the normal course of your business. Caution: You must physically meet with customers, clients or patients at your home office. In addition, their use of your home must be substantial and integral to the conduct of your business. Occasional meetings in your home do not qualify. Similarly, telephone calls to customers, clients or patients are not enough. The customers, clients or patients must be physically present in your home office.

It may seem a bit confusing. That's because these rules are very specific, not to mention regularly changing!

Many times, I find that getting your home office to qualify as your principal place of business is simply a matter of changing what you do at your home office. Here is a recent situation I had with a client on making her home office her principal place of business.

Before: Home Office Did Not Qualify as the Principal Place of Business

My client is a self-employed real estate agent who spends most of her time at her clients' homes and out in the field showing houses. She has an office that she rents from another real estate agent in addition to a home office. She performs administrative and management tasks for her business, such as phoning clients, setting appointments, ordering supplies, and keeping her books at her rented office space and then also takes this work home to finish it at her home office.

Her home office did not qualify as her principal place of business because she did not meet with clients there as part of her normal business operations (her meetings with clients were at their houses or the houses they were considering buying) and she had another fixed location (her rented office space) where she conducted substantial administrative and management activities for her business.

After: Home Office Does Qualify as the Principal Place of Business

After discussing her situation, I went through a few options with her that would make her home office deductible. We ended up with the one that best fit her business goals but still qualified her home office as her principal place of business. The solution was to move all of her administrative and managerial tasks to her home office and only perform those tasks at her home office. She then used the rented office space as a place to meet with clients and for other business tasks.

The end result: a tax savings of $4,000 per year because she could claim the home office deduction and the travel to and from her home office.

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About Article Author

TMWheelwright
TMWheelwright

Tom Wheelwright is not only the founder and CEO of Provision, but he is the creative force behind Provision Wealth Strategists. In addition to his management responsibilities, Tom likes to coach clients on wealth, business, and tax strategies. Along with his frequent seminars on these strategies, Tom is an adjunct professor in the Masters of Tax program at Arizona State University. For more information please visit http://www.provisionwealth.com

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