Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses
You can deduct your allowable moving expenses if your move is closely related to the start of work. You also must meet the distance test and the time test. These two tests are discussed later.
Retirees or survivors. You may be able to deduct the expenses of moving to the United States or its possessions even if the move is not related to a new job. You must have worked outside the United States or be a survivor of someone who did. See Retirees or Survivors Who Move to the United States, later.
Related to Start of Work
Your move must be closely related, both in time and in place, to the start of work at your new job location.
Closely related in time. You can generally consider moving expenses incurred within one year from the date you first reported to work at the new location as closely related in time to the start of work. It is not necessary that you arrange to work before moving to a new location, as long as you actually do go to work.
If you do not move within one year, you ordinarily cannot deduct the expenses unless you can show that circumstances existed that prevented the move within that time.
Example. Your family moved more than a year after you started work at a new location. You delayed the move for 18 months to allow your child to complete high school. You can deduct your allowable moving expenses.
Closely related in place. You can generally consider your move closely related in place to the start of work if the distance from your new home to the new job location is not more than the distance from your former home to the new job location. A move that does not meet this requirement may qualify if you can show that:
Your move will meet the distance test if your new main job location is at least 50 miles farther from your former home than your old main job location was from your former home. For example, if your old job was 3 miles from your former home, your new job must be at least 53 miles from that former home.
The distance between a job location and your home is the shortest of the more commonly traveled routes between them. The distance test considers only the location of your former home. It does not take into account the location of your new home. See Figure A.
Example. You moved to a new home less than 50 miles from your former home because you changed job locations. Your old job was 3 miles from your former home. Your new job is 60 miles from that home. Because your new job is 57 miles farther from your former home than the distance from your former home to your old job, you meet the 50-mile distance test.
First job or return to full-time work. If you go to work full time for the first time, your place of work must be at least 50 miles from your former home to meet the distance test. If you go back to full-time work after a substantial period of part-time work or unemployment, your place of work also must be at least 50 miles from your former home.
Exception for Armed Forces. If you are in the Armed Forces and you moved because of a permanent change of station, you do not have to meet the distance test. See Members of the Armed Forces,later.
Main job location. Your main job location is usually the place where you spend most of your working time. A new job location is a new place where you will work permanently or indefinitely rather than temporarily. If there is no one place where you spend most of your working time, your main job location is the place where your work is centered–for example, where you report for work or are otherwise required to “base” your work.
Union members. If you work for several employers on a short-term basis and you get work under a union hall system (such as a construction or building trades worker), your main job location is the union hall.
More than one job. If you have more than one job at anytime, your main job location depends on the facts in each case. The more important factors to be considered are:
To deduct your moving expenses, you also must meet one of the following time tests. See Table 1.
Time test for employees. If you are an employee, you must work full time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months after you arrive in the general area of your new job location. For this time test, count only your full-time work as an employee; do not count any work you do as a self-employed person. You do not have to work for the same employer for the 39 weeks. You do not have to work 39 weeks in a row. However, you must work full time within the same general commuting area. Full-time employment depends on what is usual for your type of work in your area.
Temporary absence from work. You are considered full time during any week you are temporarily absent from work because of illness, strikes, lockouts, layoffs, natural disasters, or similar causes. You are also considered a full-time employee during any week you are absent from work for leave or vacation provided for in your work contract or agreement.
Seasonal work. If your work is seasonal, you are considered working full time during the off-season only if your work contract or agreement covers an off-season period and that period is less than 6 months. For example, a school teacher on a 12-month contract who teaches on a full-time basis for more than 6 months is considered a full-time employee for 12 months.
Time test for self-employed persons. If you are self-employed, you must work full time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months AND for a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 monthsafter you arrive in your new job location. For this time test, count any full-time work you do as an employee or as a self-employed person. You do not have to work for the same employer or be self-employed in the same trade or business for the 78 weeks.
Self-employment. You are self-employed if you work as the sole owner of an unincorporated business or as a partner in a partnership carrying on a business. You are not considered self-employed if you are semiretired, are a part-time student, or work only a few hours each week.
Full-time work. Whether you work full time during any week depends on what is usual for your type of work in your area. For example, you are a self-employed dentist and maintain office hours 4 days a week. You are considered to perform services full time if maintaining office hours 4 days a week is usual for other self-employed dentists in the area.
Temporary absence from work. You are considered to be self-employed on a full-time basis during any week you are temporarily absent from work because of illness, strikes, natural disasters, or similar causes.
Seasonal trade or business. If your trade or business is seasonal, the off-season weeks when no work is required or available may be counted as weeks of performing services full time. The off season must be less than 6 months and you must work full time before and after the off season.
For example, you own and operate a motel at a beach resort. You are considered self-employed on a full-time basis during the weeks of the off season if the motel is closed for less than 6 months and you work as a full-time operator of the motel before and after the off season.
Joint return. If you are married and file a joint return and both you and your spouse work full time, either of you can satisfy the full-time work test. However, you cannot combine the weeks your spouse worked with the weeks you worked to satisfy that test.
Time test not yet met. You can deduct your moving expenses on your 1998 tax return even if you have not yet met the time test by the date your 1998 return is due. You can do this if you expect to meet the 39-week test in 1999, or the 78-week test in 1999 or 2000. If you deduct moving expenses but do not meet the time test by 1999 or 2000, you must either:
Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to amend your return.
If you do not deduct your moving expenses on your 1998 return, and you later meet the time test, you can file an amended return for 1998 to take the deduction.
Example. You arrive in the general area of your new job on September 15, 1998. You deduct your moving expenses on your 1998 return, the year of the move, even though you have not yet met the time test by the date your return is due. If you do not meet the 39-week test by September 15, 1999, you must either:
Exceptions to the time test. You do not have to meet the time test if one of the following applies.
Members of the Armed Forces
If you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and you move because of a permanent change of station, you do not have to meet the distance and time tests, discussed earlier. You can deduct your unreimbursed allowable moving expenses.
A permanent change of station includes:
Spouse and dependents. If a member of the Armed Forces deserts, is imprisoned, or dies, a permanent change of station for the spouse or dependent includes a move to:
If the military moves you and your spouse and dependents to or from separate locations, the moves are treated as a single move to your new main job location.
Services or reimbursements provided by government. Do not include in income the value of moving and storage services provided by the government because of a permanent change of station. If the total reimbursements or allowances you receive from the government because of the move are more than your actual moving expenses, the government should include the excess in your wages on Form W-2. However, the excess portion of a dislocation allowance, a temporary lodging allowance, a temporary lodging expense, or a move-in housing allowance is not included in income. Do not attach Form 3903 to your Form 1040.
If your reimbursements or allowances are less than your actual moving expenses, do not include the reimbursements or allowances in income. You can deduct the expenses that exceed your reimbursements. See Deductible Moving Expenses, later.
How to complete Form 3903 for members of the Armed Forces. Take the following steps.
If the military moves you and your spouse and dependents to or from different locations, treat these moves as a single move. Unless they exceed actual expenses, do not include in income reimbursements, allowances, or the value of moving and storage services provided by the government to move you, your spouse, and your dependents to and from the separate locations.
Do not deduct any expenses for moving services provided by the government.
Retirees or Survivors Who Move to the United States
You can deduct your allowable moving expenses if you move to the United States or to a possession of the United States. You do not have to meet the time test, discussed earlier, but you must meet the requirements discussed below.
Retirees. You can deduct moving expenses for a move to a new home in the United States when you permanently retire. However, both your former main job location and your former home must have been outside the United States.
Permanently retired. You are considered permanently retired when you cease gainful full-time employment or self-employment. If at the time you retire, you intend your retirement to be permanent, you will be considered retired though you later return to work. Your intention to retire permanently will be determined by:
Survivors. You can deduct moving expenses for a move to a home in the United States if you are the spouse or the dependent of a person whose main job location at the time of death was outside the United States. The move must begin within 6 months after the decedent’s death. It must be from the decedent’s former home outside the United States. That home must also have been your home.
When a move begins. A move begins when one of the following events occurs.
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