Can I Deduct My Moving Expenses on Income Taxes?

by Jordan Meyers, Demand Media
    Take the bite out of moving expenses with tax deductions.

    Take the bite out of moving expenses with tax deductions.

    There's no doubt about it. Moving costs can add up quickly. From boxes and packing materials to moving trucks and insurance for your valuables, the money you set aside for relocating may disappear in no time. No one can blame you for wanting to get something out of all that spending. The good news is you may be able to deduct moving expenses on your tax return if you've moved because of employment. The bad news is there are strict criteria for qualifying for a moving expense deduction.

    Basic Requirement

    Though you may be dying to write off some of your moving expenses, you have just one chance to meet the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) deduction requirements. You can only deduct moving expenses if you've relocated for employment. You may qualify if you've moved for your first real job, a transfer, or a change to a new company. The bad news? If you're moving because you want to join your honey in her city, you're out of luck.

    50 Miles or Bust

    If you've moved for employment, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses on your tax return. Not so fast, however. Before you can deduct that hefty moving truck bill, you'll have to pass the IRS 50-mile test. Unfortunately, this is a pass or fail test. You will only pass this one if your new job requires you to travel at least 50 miles farther than your old home-to-work commute. If your shiny, new office is only 15 miles from your old cubicle, you fail this one and cannot take the credit.

    39-Week Test

    To demonstrate that you didn't move just to get to grass that's greener on the other side, you have to maintain full-time employment in the new area for 39 weeks out of the 12 months following your move. The nice legal loophole here is that you don't have to stay with the same employer for that time. The point is to show your commitment to employment in that area. If you fall short by maintaining employment in the area for just 38 weeks, you cannot deduct your expenses.

    Married Filing Jointly

    Only one spouse has to meet the IRS challenge test to make a happy couple eligible for a moving deduction. In addition, having a self-employed spouse may work for you. If your spouse works from home and you are moving 40 miles from your current place of work, just make sure the move is 50 miles from your former home. Your home is considered his place of business and counts for the 50-mile test. He will have to meet an additional IRS challenge test, however, by remaining employed in the new area for 78 weeks out of the two years after you move.

    About the Author

    Jordan Meyers has been a freelance writer, specializing in health, education, business and parenting topics for more than a decade and a copy editor since 2008. Meyers has written Web and print copy for hundreds of businesses, including many Fortune 500 companies. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from the University of Maryland and is studying for a bachelor's degree in psychology.

    Photo Credits

    • blank yellow big delivery truck on road image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com