To determine whether you are traveling away from home, you must first determine the location of your tax home.
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.
If you have more than one regular place of business, your tax home is your main place of business.
If you do not have a regular or a main place of business because of the nature of your work, then your tax home may be the place where you regularly live. See "No main place of business or work" below.
If you do not have a regular place of business or post of duty and there is no place where you regularly live, you are considered a transient (an itinerant) and your tax home is wherever you work. As a transient, you cannot claim a travel expense deduction because you are never considered to be traveling away from home.
Main Place of Business or Work
If you have more than one place of work, consider the following when determining which one is your main place of business or work.
The total time you ordinarily spend in each place.
The level of your business activity in each place.
Whether your income from each place is significant or insignificant.
Example. You live in Cincinnati where you have a seasonal job for 8 months each year and earn $25,000. You work the other 4 months in Miami, also at a seasonal job, and earn $9,000. Cincinnati is your main place of work because you spend most of your time there and earn most of your income there.
No Main Place of Business or Work
You may have a tax home even if you do not have a regular or main place of work. Your tax home may be the home where you regularly live.
Factors used to determine tax home. If you do not have a regular or main place of business or work, use the following three factors to determine where your tax home is.
You perform part of your business in the area of your main home and use that home for lodging while doing business in the area.
You have living expenses at your main home that you duplicate because your business requires you to be away from that home.
You have not abandoned the area in which both your historical place of lodging and your claimed main home are located; you have a member or members of your family living at your main home; or you often use that home for lodging.
If you satisfy all three factors, your tax home is the home where you regularly live. If you satisfy only two factors, you may have a tax home depending on all the facts and circumstances. If you satisfy only one factor, you are a transient; your tax home is wherever you work and you cannot deduct travel expenses.
Example 1. You are single and live in Boston in an apartment you rent. You have worked for your employer in Boston for a number of years. Your employer enrolls you in a 12-month executive training program. You do not expect to return to work in Boston after you complete your training.
During your training, you do not do any work in Boston. Instead, you receive classroom and on-the-job training throughout the United States. You keep your apartment in Boston and return to it frequently. You use your apartment to conduct your personal business. You also keep up your community contacts in Boston. When you complete your training, you are transferred to Los Angeles.
You do not satisfy factor (1) because you did not work in Boston. You satisfy factor (2) because you had duplicate living expenses. You also satisfy factor (3) because you did not abandon your apartment in Boston as your main home, you kept your community contacts, and you frequently returned to live in your apartment. You have a tax home in Boston.
Example 2. You are an outside salesperson with a sales territory covering several states. Your employer's main office is in Newark, but you do not conduct any business there. Your work assignments are temporary, and you have no way of knowing where your future assignments will be located. You have a room in your married sister's house in Dayton. You stay there for one or two weekends a year, but you do no work in the area. You do not pay your sister for the use of the room.
You do not satisfy any of the three factors listed earlier. You are a transient and have no tax home.
Information courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service.