For tax years prior to 2018, Federal tax laws allow you to deduct your moving expenses if your relocation relates to starting a new job or a transfer to a new location for your present employer. To qualify for the deduction, your new work location must be a sufficient distance from your old home and you must begin working shortly after you arrive. Beginning in 2018, the moving expense deduction is only available to certain military personnel.
Beginning in 2018, moving expenses are no longer eligible for a tax deduction on your federal tax return however, some states such as California continue to provide a deduction on your state tax return if you qualify.
Distance test requirements
The costs you incur for moves within the same town do not qualify for the deduction. The distance between your new job and your former home must be at least 50 miles farther than your previous employer is from that home. For example, if your previous commute to work was five miles each way, then the distance from your new job location to your old home must be at least 55 miles. When evaluating whether you satisfy the distance test, the IRS requires you to use the shortest commutable routes between two locations.
Time test requirements
You must work full-time for a minimum of 39 weeks during the initial 12-month period that starts on the day you arrive in the new location. You can still satisfy this requirement when the 39 weeks are not consecutive and even when it's for multiple employers. The IRS does not specify the number of days or hours you must work each week to be a full-time employee; instead, it defers to your industry’s commonly-accepted standard.
Deductible moving expenses
The deduction covers the reasonable expenses you incur to transport your personal effects and household items to your new home. You can even include the cost of renting a storage unit for up to 30 days if you are unable to move into your new home immediately after leaving your former home.
You can also include the cost of traveling to the new location for yourself and other members of your household. If you drive to the new location in a personal vehicle, you can include the actual cost of oil, gasoline, parking fees and highway tolls. In lieu of using the actual cost of gasoline and oil, the IRS permits you to calculate those costs using the annual standard mileage rate for moving. For long-distance moves, you can deduct the cost of airline and train tickets.
Claiming the moving expenses deduction
The moving expense deduction is one of the few tax deductions you can claim before knowing whether you satisfy the requirements. As a result of the time test’s 12-month period, most taxpayers cannot satisfy the time test until the following tax year. However, the IRS allows you to claim the deduction in the year you move.
To claim the deduction, you must report all relocation expenses on IRS Form 3903 and attach it to the personal tax return that covers the year of your move. In the event you do not satisfy all requirements at the conclusion of the 12-month period, you must reverse the deduction. You will either include the original deduction amount in “other income” on your next tax return or amend the original return to calculate your tax without the moving expense deduction.
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