Owarwick posted a typical question about commute expenses in the tax forum. The reader travels about 800 miles a month for work.
The IRS allows a deduction if the taxpayer is "traveling away from home" for business or a job. However, "away from home" means traveling away from the general location of the taxpayer's work area. "Generally, your tax home is your regular place of business or post of duty, regardless of where you maintain your family home. It includes the entire city or general area in which your business or work is located," explains the IRS in Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses.
In Owarwick's scenario, he (or she) travels 800 miles each month to an offshore oil rig, and the location of the rig changes a few times per year. The rig is his regular place of employment, and is his "tax home," based on the IRS definition. Owarwick's commuting expense would be a non-deductible personal expense based. However, the IRS does allow taxpayers to deduct the cost of travel to a temporary work place. "A temporary assignment in a single location is one that is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for one year or less," also from Publication 463). Since Owarwick's work location changes several times a year, his travel expenses may be deductible as an itemized deduction for employee business expenses using Form 2106. To claim the deduction, the taxpayer would need to have unreimbursed business expenses in excess of 2% of his adjusted gross income, and be able to itemize his deductions rather than take the standard deduction.