Guard, Reserve oft overlooked tax deduction

Q: Hi June. In 2010, I trav­eled more than 100 miles to serve part-time on week­ends in the National Guard. When I com­pleted my taxes for 2010 (using Tur­b­o­tax soft­ware), I was told that I could either deduct my mileage or my gas, but not both. In the January/February 2011 edi­tion of Foun­da­tions mag­a­zine, in your arti­cle enti­tled “It’s Tax Time,” you stated that I could deduct all the expenses I incurred from the time I left home until my return. Which one is cor­rect? If the other per­son mis­in­formed me, how do I cor­rect this as I’ve already received my refund? Thank you.



 A: Thanks for read­ing that arti­cle. It’s always good to know that folks are pay­ing heed to that advice! In this case, both your tax soft­ware and I are cor­rect. Here’s the deal…you can deduct all unre­im­bursed travel expenses as an adjust­ment to income.  How­ever, “mileage” is not actu­ally an expense. When you cal­cu­late your travel expenses you can use “actual expenses” which would include gas or you can use a stan­dard mileage deduc­tion. This is a gov­ern­ment fig­ure that takes into account the total cost of trav­el­ing via auto­mo­bile. If you were to deduct both gas and use the mileage deduc­tion you would be double-counting your deduc­tion and the IRS frowns upon that. Again, thanks for read­ing the arti­cle, ask­ing a ques­tion oth­ers prob­a­bly had and con­tin­u­ing to serve! Take care.


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