Q: I am an interim minister serving a church 100 miles away. This interim position will last less than a year. I know that driving between home and church is not deductible, but would this situation count as temporary employment so that I would be eligible for the standard mileage deduction?
A: Commuting between your home and a temporary job location does count as deductible mileage. According to Internal Revenue Service rules governing travel, entertainment, gift, and car expenses (Publication 463), if you have one or more regular work locations away from your home and commute to a temporary work location in the same trade or business, then you can deduct the expenses of the daily round-trip transportation between your home and the temporary location.
If your employment at a church location is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for 1 year or less, then the employment is considered temporary unless facts and circumstances exist that would indicate otherwise.
If your employment at a church location is realistically expected to last for more than 1 year or if no realistic expectation exists that the employment will last for 1 year or less, then the employment is not temporary, regardless of whether it actually lasts for more than 1 year. In this case, mileage would not be deductible.
If employment at a church location initially is realistically expected to last for 1 year or less but at some later date the employment is realistically expected to last more than 1 year, then that employment will be treated as temporary (unless facts and circumstances exist that would indicate otherwise) until your expectation changes. It will not be treated as temporary after the date you determine it will last more than 1 year.
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This article is intended to provide readers with guidance in tax matters. The article does not constitute, and should not be treated as professional advice regarding the use of any particular tax technique. Every effort has been made to assure the accuracy of the information. Clergy Financial Resources and the author do not assume responsibility for any individual’s reliance upon the information provided in the article. Readers should independently verify all information before applying it to a particular fact situation, and should independently determine the impact of any particular tax planning technique. If you are seeking legal advice, you are encouraged to consult an attorney.
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