Tax Answers

March 22, 1994

Here is an answer from members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants to a reader's tax question. The Sun will publish answers through April 15.

Q: I live in Baltimore. I've been on temporary assignment for almost three months in Delaware, and I travel about 100 miles each way. May I take any kind of deduction for travel and tolls?

A: It depends. You may be able to take a deduction of round-trip transportation and tolls from commuting to a temporary work site beyond the general area of your place of work even if you return home each evening. The Internal Revenue Service allows the deduction even if the temporary work site is in the same general area as your place of work.

For the transportation and tolls to be deductible, though, the job must be temporary in that it is expected to terminate within a relatively short period of time and that termination is foreseeable. If you don't know how long the assignment will last, the job is considered indefinite and the expenses would not be deductible.

There are no hard guidelines as to the period of time a job must last to be considered temporary. However, IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, states that a temporary assignment would be one that generally lasts "days or weeks."

The above advice is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting or tax advice. Specific situations may vary. Consult with a tax adviser for specific advice.

Readers may submit questions by phone, mail or fax. Selected questions will be answered in The Sun and The Evening Sun.

To ask a tax question by phone, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County call 268-7736, in Harford County 836-5028, and in Carroll County 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, enter 6120 after you hear the greeting.

Written queries may be sent to TAX QUESTIONS, The Baltimore Sun, Business News Department, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278. Fax questions to the Business News Department at (410) 783-2517. Callers are encouraged but not required, to leave their names and phone numbers should questions need to be clarified. Names will not be published.

Questions will not be answered by phone.

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