Happy 4th of July! Since it’s a holiday week, I’m re-posting popular stories from the past. This one, from 2012, talks about adjunct professors and mileage deductions.
Looking back on it now, I’d say two things about this post:
- In the first section about self-employed people, I used vague language but now I am certain, the mileage would go on Form 2106.
- The ability to deduct mileage as an employee has gone away now with “tax reform” so the topic of this post is outdated starting with 2018 tax returns.
Originally published April 18, 2012
A website visitor poses the following question: can an adjunct professor deduct mileage from their home office to the classes they teach?
As with anything related to taxes, the answer is “maybe.”
Do You Really Have a Home Office?
Almost all of us have some part of our house or apartment that we say is our “home office.” But most of us do NOT have a “home office” for tax purposes. Why? Because a home office isn’t a home office for taxes unless it is used regularly and EXCLUSIVELY for business. Exclusively means 100% business use and 0% personal use, and this is what dooms most of us.
For our adjunct professor, if the answer to “do you have a home office for tax purposes” is “no,” then they are out of luck on the mileage deduction for miles driven between their home and class.
But if the home office is really a “home office” for tax purposes, or if the professor is an employee working in their employer’s office by day, they might be able to deduct at least some of the mileage.
Let’s say the adjunct professor is self-employed by day and has a legitimate home office for tax purposes. In that case, the mileage they drive to teach class would be deductible. I think the mileage would have to go on Form 2106 as an unreimbursed employee expense rather than as a Schedule C business expense deductible against business income.
If an Employee By Day
If our adjunct professor is an employee somewhere, the mileage driven from the “day job” office to school would be deductible on Form 2106.
Example: Alex Adjunct works at Cubicle Farm, LLC by day and teaches business classes at night at the local college. Alex can deduct mileage driven from Cubicle Farm, LLC to class but NOT from class to home.
One Last Hurdle
Mileage deductions shown on Form 2106 are considered a “miscellaneous itemized deduction.” The total of all miscellaneous deductions must exceed 2% of total income in order to be taken.