Away From Home

What is 'Away From Home'

"Away from home” is a phrase used by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to express that a taxpayer is not within commuting distance from home. If the taxpayer works away from home for longer than a normal workday and requires sleep, then the associated costs are tax deductible. If the taxpayer works a distance that is within commuting distance from home, not away from home, but chooses to sleep in a place that is not home, the associated costs are not deductible. The IRS specifies that in this case the distance is from the “tax home,” not necessarily the actual domicile of the taxpayer.

BREAKING DOWN 'Away From Home'

Away from home is a phrase with specific meaning to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The phrase refers to a specific distance from the taxpayer’s tax home that is assumed to be too far to commute home every night. A taxpayer can deduct travel, lodging and food expenses while working away from home, but not while working a distance that is considered short enough to commute home, even if the taxpayer stays in a hotel and pays for meals to avoid having to commute home. An exception to this is an indefinite work assignment, which is a work assignment that lasts one year or longer. Travel, lodging and food expenses are not deductible for an indefinite work assignment.

Deductible expenses include travel to and from the tax home, lodging, food, dry cleaning or laundry, use of the taxpayer’s car at the work location, taxis or public transportation costs at the work location, business phone calls and tips paid out at the work location.

An employee deducts away from home expenses on IRS Form 2106 or Form 2106-EZ. A person who is self-employed deducts away from home expenses on IRS Form 1040 Schedule C.

Tax Home

To determine whether a taxpayer is away from home, the IRS considers the tax home, which is the general location or vicinity of where the taxpayer usually works or does business. This may or may not be where the taxpayer actually lives.

For example, if the taxpayer lives in Detroit but works in Toledo, and stays in a hotel in Toledo during the week but travels home every weekend to Detroit, the taxpayer’s tax home is considered to be Toledo. None of the travel expenses from Detroit to Toledo or the lodging and food expenses in Toledo are deductible, because the taxpayer works in their tax home regardless of where they live.

Away from home in the above example would indicate a distance from Toledo that was not reasonable to commute back every night, because Toledo is the tax home.