If you're a military reservist who travels to fulfill your service duty, you are entitled to deduct mileage and other costs of travel from your income, reducing your tax bill. If you travel more than 100 miles each way you can take the deduction without having to itemize.
Who May Take the Deduction
You qualify if you are a member of a reserve component of the Armed Forces, including Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. Additionally, members of the Army National Guard, Air National Guard and the Reserve Corps of the Public Health Service are eligible for the deduction.
Which Expenses Qualify
You can deduct all mileage incurred in meeting your reserve duty requirements. Each year the government sets a new rate, which at the time of publication is 51 cents per mile. You can also deduct road and bridge tolls, ferry fares and other travel incidentals. You may not deduct the cost of gasoline, which is already figured into the mileage rate. Keep records of the dates you serve and the mileage driven on each date, as well as receipts backing up other travel expenses.
Filing Form 2016
Use Form 2016-EZ if you have no employer-reimbursed expenses for the year. Otherwise you'll have to use the long Form 2106 and subtract any reimbursements. Total the miles you drove for reserve duty and put this on line 13. Multiply by the mileage rate and put this amount on line 22. Carry this figure back to line 1. Add your tolls, parking and other travel costs on line 2 and finish Part I. Do not include gasoline expenses here.
Taking the Deduction
Transfer the total deduction from Form 2106 to Form 1040. If you travel more than 100 miles from home for your reserve duty, put the total from line 10 on Form 1040, line 24. This allows you to take the deduction as an adjustment to income. If you perform reserve duties closer than 100 miles from home you must take the travel expense deduction on Schedule A (Itemized Deductions), line 21. The total of your deductible expenses must exceed the standard deduction for your filing status in order to take advantage of the reservist mileage deduction in this case.