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Business Miles vs Commuting Miles
June 13, 2024 - 2 min read

Business Miles vs Commuting Miles

Business miles include traveling from your office or place of work to another and are tax-deductible (if you’re self-employed or a business owner) or subject to reimbursement (if you’re an employee), while commuting miles involve mileage from home to work, and are not tax-deductible. 

Differentiating between these two classes of mileage properly is crucial, as the IRS only allows employee reimbursement or tax deduction of business miles. 

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of business miles vs commuting miles, and how they apply to both employees and self-employed individuals. 

Business miles

Trips from one workplace to another are considered business driving by the IRS and can be written off on your tax return or reimbursed by your employer. 

Business miles could also include: 

  • Driving between two different work locations
  • Driving from home to a temporary work location (if you’re going to work there short-term, which the IRS defines as less than 1 year) 
  • Driving between client meetings or visiting customers
  • Running other business errands 
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Commuting miles 

Commuting miles are not tax-deductible, and the IRS defines them as: 

  • Driving from home to a permanent workplace
  • Driving from home to your second workplace 
  • Trips often mistaken for business

The following mileage also does not count as business:

  • Hauling tools or instruments 
  • Personal trips with a car displaying advertisements

Differentiating between business and commute

The infographic below illustrates which trips are deductible/qualify for reimbursement.

 

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Working from an office

Let’s say you work in an office but regularly meet with clients on-site. 

Your drive from home to the office is considered a commute, while any mileage from your office location to client sites is classified as business miles. 

Since you’ll most likely be doing both within a working day, it’s important you track mileage and separate commuting and business miles in your records - you can find more advice on that in a section below. 

Working from home

If your home doubles as your principal place of work, which is generally the case for fully remote employees or self-employed individuals, you can request mileage reimbursements or tax deductions for work-related driving.

This might include heading to a client location from your home or running business errands. 

However, if you’re a remote employee and travel to a primary office location, those miles are classed as commuting. Any travel from your main place of work to business-related locations outside your company’s office are business miles.

The IRS publication 587 can help you figure out the circumstances, in which your home is considered your principal place of business.  

Tracking your mileage and keeping records

To be eligible for reimbursement by an employer or a deduction on your tax return as a self-employed worker, you need to keep a mileage log of the business portion of your overall driving. This includes the date and location you traveled to and from.

A mileage tracker app can help you automatically separate your personal and commuting driving from business trips. 

How to claim your business mileage

As employees

Your employer can reimburse you for your business driving by applying one of the three reimbursement methods. For specific rules and regulations that apply, read our mileage reimbursement guide.

As self-employed

As a self-employed individual, you may be eligible to write off your business-related mileage. To help navigate your possible deductions, read our mileage deduction guide for the self-employed.

FAQ

Generally, no. Commuting miles involve driving between your home and place of work, and are not tax-deductible or subject to reimbursement. There are a few exceptions, for example if your home is your primary place of business and you drive to another work location, or if you travel to a temporary workplace.
Mileage from home to work is generally not deductible; however, this isn’t always the case for self-employed individuals, whose home usually doubles as your office. If you run your business from your home or don’t have a formal office location, your business mileage includes travel from your home to client locations.

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