Travel by personal automobile requires special attention to the validation requirements. Because of perceived exposure to personal use, Congress has designated passenger automobiles as so‐called “listed property,” which means that expenses related to their business use must be “strictly substantiated.” In order to comply with this requirement, the taxpayer must maintain a written record that contains sufficient information as to each element of every business use. Mere “estimates” or calendar entries showing the dates the automobile was used are not enough; generally, the IRS and the courts expect the taxpayer to validate the expenses with a synchronous mileage log.
Automobile mileage should be strictly substantiated with a contemporaneous log indicating the beginning and ending mileage and the specific business purpose of each trip. Although the IRS is not always strict in this regard (in some audits they may allow the taxpayer to “reconstruct” a mileage log if a business calendar or other means for doing so are available), because automobiles are listed property, the IRS has the legal right to demand such substantiation. Representatives should advise clients to especially make sure that the business purpose of each trip is somehow documented.
You are traveling away from home if your duties require you to be away from the general area of your tax home for a period substantially longer than an ordinary day’s work, and you need to get sleep or rest to meet the demands of your work while away.
If your business location is the place where you work all the time, the concept of “tax home” has little meaning. But if you travel as part of your business, or if you work in different locations, the location of your tax home does become an important concept. The IRS says that your tax home is your “regular place of business”. Your tax home is the entire city or general area where your main place of business or work is located, regardless of where you maintain your family home.
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