Ask Tax Cat: What The Heck Is Going On With The Business Mileage Rate For 2011?

Every year around this time, Tax Cat emerges from his basket to answer questions and offer advice to you, the fine people of the internet.

Q: Dear Tax Cat, I plan to itemize this year because I have my own business. What was the business mileage rate for 2011? There are so many rates, I’m confused.

A: Luckily, as a cat, I do not have to own a car. Sometimes I actually get a little depressed about it, because car commercials make driving look like so much fun. Then I remember that I can jump on top of the refrigerator without even trying, and you people can’t. That makes me feel better.

Anyway, Gas prices rose so much last year that the IRS actually had two mileage rates for business. From January 1 to June 30, it was 51 cents per mile. From July 1 to December 31, it was 55.5 cents per mile.

Mileage rates for other types of travel:

Medical: 19 cents per mile from Jan. 1 to June 30; 23.5 cents per mile from July 1 to December 31.
Moving (for a job): The same as medical.
Charitable: 14 cents per mile for the whole year. Unlike the other mileage rates, which are regularly reset by the Treasury Department, this one has to be changed by law. It hasn’t budged in years.

If you have a question for Tax Cat, write to him at tips@consumerist.com, put “Tax Cat” in the subject of your email.

Comments

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  1. Shouhdes says:

    I’m too concerned that Tax Cat is going to claw my face off that I can’t process the valuable information.

    • Phil Keeps It Real [Consumerist] says:

      Tax Cat does indeed look like he ready for a clawin’, will it be you or will it be me ? Only the IRS knows.

  2. fenra says:

    I was reimbursed for my mileage last year, but not at the IRS’s rates. Can I itemize the difference?

    • ceriphim says:

      ^This!!! Same story here, reimbursed by my company but we only get $.375 per mile

    • Jevia says:

      Yes you can. On the business expense form, you itemize all of your expenses, total it up. Then there’s a line where you put down whatever your employer reimbursed you, subtract that from the total expenses. Then I think you have the whole 2.5% floor from your AGI or some such (i.e. you calculate 2.5% of your AGI and subtract that from the total expenses minus employer reimbursement), and the remainder is your business expense deduction.

    • kimmie says:

      I was just about to post this question! We got reimbused 51 cents all year, so while it’s only a 4 cent difference for 6mo, it adds up.

    • FishtownYo says:

      Is that legal? Is the employer claiming the full deduction while give someone less, thus making money off your mileage? I see the change when I load my expenses into our Employee Expense form, but I work for a huge IT company, so I’m sure the posters are commenting on smaller businesses.

  3. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Is a volunteer auxiliary police position considered charitable?

    • comedian says:

      I deduct the mileage I put in responding as a volunteer EMT, but that is pretty clear cut because I volunteer for a non-government charitable ambulance association.

      “Automobile expense for your volunteer work for a qualified charitable organization is deductible on Schedule A as a charitable contribution.”

      So, is your local government a “qualified charitable organization”? (wait for laughs based on how it is run…)

      Yes, according to this

      http://www.efile.com/tax-deduction/income-deduction/charitable-contributions/

      The following organizations generally qualify:

      Religious organizations or places of worship (synagogues, churches, mosques, temples, etc.)
      Federal, state, and local governments (including Indian Tribal Governments)
      Recreation facilities and public parks
      Nonprofit hospitals and health clinics
      Nonprofit schools and other educational organizations
      War veterans’ groups
      Service organizations such as United Way, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, CARE, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.
      Organizations dedicated to preventing cruelty to children or animals
      Organizations established to promote literacy
      Scientific organizations
      Other organizations listed in Publication 78 (click link to look up)

      _______________

      Notably, also, what Organizations Are NOT Qualified as Charitable?

      Donations to the following types of organizations are generally not tax deductible:

      For-profit institutions
      Individuals
      Lobbying groups
      Labor unions
      Chambers of commerce
      Civic leagues
      Sports and social clubs
      Most foreign organizations
      Homeowners’ associations
      Tuition
      Value of donated blood
      Political candidates or organizations
      Foreign or unrecognized governments

  4. bendee says:

    My friend is a traveling nurse, usually in positions for 60-90 days around the country, but is not reimbursed for travel. Does anyone know if the ‘moving for a job’ requires changing permanent residency, or as long as he is moving himself and his possessions in his car to his temporary living quarters (that are across the country), he qualifies?

    • bendee says:

      Found the answer – you must work 39 weeks in the first 12 months after moving to the new area.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      It probably matters whether your nurse friend maintains a permanent address or not.

      If he does, then the trip to the work site for the temporary assignment and the return to the permanent address might be treatable as unreimbursed business travel. I am *NOT* an accountant of any kind, but I’d ask one questions along those lines to find out. There may be some good wiggle room in the rules. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rr-99-7.pdf

    • Verdant Pine Trees says:

      Your friend might look at whether they can get a write-off under “unreimbursed job expenses” instead…not mileage.

  5. rambo76098 says:

    What’s the education mileage rate?

  6. RvLeshrac says:

    55c/mile? That explains why my company was paying out ~.20/mile in compensation.

  7. thumbers says:

    My company pays me mileage, but takes off the first 20 and last 20 miles per day. Do I get to claim that as well as the difference?