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Having special needs sometimes means taking frequent car trips – whether to physical or occupational therapy, doctor visits, or elsewhere. Individuals, parents, and caretakers can use the IRS’s optional standard mileage rates to calculate the deductible costs of operating a vehicle for many of these trips.

Beginning on January 1, 2019, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, or truck will be:

  • 58 cents per mile driven for business use (up 3.5 cents from the rate for 2018),
  • 20 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes (up 2 cents from the rate for 2018), and
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations.

The standard mileage rate for business use is based on an annual study of the fixed and variable costs of operating an automobile. The rate for medical and moving purposes is based on the variable costs.

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, taxpayers cannot claim a miscellaneous itemized deduction for unreimbursed employee travel expenses. Taxpayers also cannot claim a deduction for moving expenses, except members of the Armed Forces on active duty moving under orders to a permanent change of station. For more details see Notice-2019-02. Taxpayers always have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates.

A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously. These and other limitations are described in section 4.05 of Rev. Proc. 2010-51.

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