Q & A Fridays – Commuting Mileage and Energy Credits

DISCLAIMER: The answers to questions in this segment are intended to be general in nature and do NOT constitute tax advice. Please contact a tax advisor to discuss your unique situation.

Q: My wife recently took a new job 65 miles away from our home. She’ll be commuting every day. Sometimes she might get a hotel instead of driving back home, especially during the winter if the weather is bad. Can she deduct her mileage or hotel expenses?

A: The short answer is, no.

The mileage is considered “commuting” mileage and is not deductible. The hotel expenses are nondeductible personal expenses.

Questions about mileage often come up. In cases of commuting, such as this one, the answer is cut and dry. But in other cases, the answer is not so clear. Look for more blog post in the coming weeks and months that will go deeper into mileage deduction issues.

Q: Is there still a credit for energy efficient doors and windows? (Several clients and readers have asked about this.)

A: Yes, but the credit is not as generous this year. Here are the differences between the 2010 version of the credit and the 2011 version:

  • 2010:  The credit was 30% of the purchase price. The maximum amount of residential energy credit that you could take in total from 2005-2010 was limited to $1,500 (the credit has existed in several forms since 2005).
  • 2011:  The credit is 10% of the purchase price, and the maximum amount of residential energy credit that you can take in total from 2005-2011 is limited to $500.

So, if you’ve claimed more than $500 of residential energy credits in the past, you cannot take the credit in 2011.

Have a Q for Jason? E-mail him at dinesentax@gmail.com and he’ll try to provide an A. Don’t worry, if your question gets chosen for publication your name will not be published.