Personal taxes


Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible? Understanding Moving Expense Tax Deductions

7 minute read

Are Moving Expenses Tax Deductible? Understanding the Moving Expense Tax Deduction And Navigating IRS Form 3903



Moving can be a significant life event, not just emotionally or physically, but also financially. Understanding how to leverage moving expense tax deductions can be a game-changer. This comprehensive guide is designed to walk you through the intricacies of moving expense deductions, explaining why this knowledge is essential for anyone who has recently moved or is planning to.

Are moving expenses deductable?

What Are Moving Expenses?

Moving expenses encompass a variety of costs incurred while relocating for a new job or business location. These typically include the fees for moving companies, rental trucks, and storage units, if necessary. Additionally, moving expenses can include travel costs to the new location, such as fuel, lodging, and airfare. Packaging materials, insurance for valuables, and potential temporary housing expenses also fall under this category. It's essential to keep detailed records of all these expenses as they are crucial in determining tax deductions. The comprehensive nature of these costs underscores the importance of understanding and managing them effectively.

Is My Moving Expense Tax Deductible?

The deductibility of moving expenses depends on several IRS guidelines. To qualify, the move must closely relate to the start of work both in time and distance. The IRS requires that the new workplace be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your old job location was. Additionally, full-time employees must work for at least 39 weeks in the first 12 months following the move. For self-employed individuals, this extends to 78 weeks in the first 24 months, with at least 39 of those weeks being near the new job location. These requirements are critical in determining whether your moving expenses can reduce your taxable income.

Type of taxpayer Deductible moving expenses

Understanding IRS Form 3903 to Deduct Your Moving Expenses

IRS Form 3903 is a critical tool for claiming moving expense deductions on your federal tax return. This form helps calculate the deductible amount by considering eligible moving expenses. The form requires detailed information about the expenses, such as transportation, storage, and travel costs. It's important to provide accurate information to ensure the correct deduction amount is calculated. If you moved due to a job change, Form 3903 should be attached to your Form 1040 during tax filing. Understanding and correctly filling out this form can significantly impact your tax liabilities.

How Do Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Impact Moving Expense Tax Deductions?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 introduced major changes to moving expense deductions. Under TCJA, moving expense deductions were suspended for most taxpayers for tax years 2018 through 2025. Only active duty Armed Forces members moving under military orders are eligible for this deduction during this period. This change emphasizes the need for taxpayers to stay informed about current tax laws and how they might affect deductions related to moving. It also highlights the importance of consulting a tax professional to understand the latest tax reforms and their implications.

Eligibility Criteria for Deducting Moving Expenses

Meeting specific criteria set by the IRS is vital for claiming moving expense deductions. Besides the distance and time tests mentioned earlier, your move must be closely related to the start of work. Importantly, you can only deduct expenses not reimbursed by your employer. This eligibility applies to moves within the United States as well as from abroad to a U.S. job location. Understanding these criteria is essential for ensuring that your moving expenses can be legitimately claimed on your tax return.

Calculating Moving Expenses: What Counts?

When calculating deductible moving expenses, it's important to differentiate between eligible and non-eligible costs. Eligible expenses include the cost of moving household goods, personal effects, and travel expenses to the new home (including lodging but not meals). Expenses related to selling an old home or buying a new one, security deposits, and storage charges beyond a certain period are not deductible. Keeping meticulous records and receipts for all moving-related expenses is crucial for accurate calculation and substantiation in case of an IRS audit.

Deducting Moving Expenses for Self-Employed Individuals

For self-employed individuals, the rules for deducting moving expenses are slightly different. In addition to the general eligibility criteria, self-employed persons must work full time for at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months following their move. These weeks of work don't necessarily have to be consecutive or with the same employer. This stipulation aims to ensure that the move is primarily for work purposes. Self-employed individuals should meticulously document their work schedule and moving expenses to substantiate their deductions.

State Tax vs. Federal Tax: The Differences in Moving Deductions

While federal tax laws regarding moving expense deductions have been tightened, state tax laws may vary. Some states still allow moving expense deductions as they follow the pre-TCJA tax code. It's important to research your specific state's tax laws regarding moving expenses, as this can significantly affect your overall tax liability. Taxpayers should consider consulting a tax professional knowledgeable about federal and state tax regulations to optimize their tax benefits.

Common Mistakes to Avoid in Moving Expense Deductions

One common mistake in claiming moving expense deductions is failing to meet the distance and time tests set by the IRS. Another error is attempting to deduct non-eligible expenses, such as meals or house hunting expenses. Additionally, failing to keep detailed records and receipts of all moving-related expenses can lead to challenges if audited by the IRS. Overlooking the requirement to reduce the deduction by any reimbursements received from an employer is also a frequent oversight. Avoiding these errors is crucial for a compliant and beneficial tax filing.

Expert Tips: Maximizing Your Moving Expense Deduction

Plan your move carefully to maximize moving expense deductions and keep thorough records of all expenses. If you're self-employed, keep detailed logs of your work hours to meet the eligibility criteria. Understand the specifics of IRS Form 3903 and fill it out accurately. Stay informed about current tax laws, especially any changes affecting moving deductions. Finally, consider consulting a tax professional for personalized advice tailored to your unique situation, ensuring you claim the maximum deductions you're entitled to.

Key Takeaways: Understanding How Moving Expenses are Tax-Deductible

  • Moving Expenses Tax Deductible: You can claim moving expenses tax-deductible on your federal income tax return, but only if you meet specific criteria set by the IRS.
  • Eligibility for Deduction: Members of the military on permanent change of station orders are able to deduct moving expenses, including moving costs and travel expenses.
  • IRS Form 3903: Use IRS Form 3903 to claim this deduction, detailing eligible moving expenses on your taxes.
  • Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017: The 2017 tax cuts and jobs act restricted moving tax deductions for most taxpayers, except for military members.
  • Deductible Moving Expenses: Deductible moving expenses include costs associated with moving household goods and personal effects.
  • Non-Deductible Expenses: You can't deduct expenses for meals and personal expenses related to moving.
  • State vs. Federal Tax Returns: Deduction on your state tax return may differ from your federal return, especially post-tax reform.
  • Self-Employed Individuals: If you are self-employed, you may qualify for deducting moving expenses differently and can write off moving expenses as business expenses.
  • Moving Expenses for the Military: Members of the military are able to deduct moving expenses even though your move might not meet the standard distance or time tests.
  • Record Keeping: Keep detailed records of all moving expenses incurred, as expenses can add up quickly and are essential for claiming deductions.
  • Moving Trucks and Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Expenses include hiring moving trucks and other out-of-pocket expenses related to relocating.
  • Tax Liability and Benefits: Understanding and correctly claiming moving expenses can reduce your overall tax liability and provide significant tax benefits.
  • Self-Employment Tax: Self-employed individuals should also consider the impact on self-employment tax when deducting moving expenses.
  • Claiming the Deduction: To claim the moving expense deduction on your income tax return, ensure all expenses are eligible and properly documented on IRS Form 3903.
  • Examples of Moving Expenses: Examples of moving expenses that qualify for a tax break include relocation expenses, moving household goods, and travel costs directly associated with moving.

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Tickmark, Inc. and its affiliates do not provide legal, tax or accounting advice. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal, tax or accounting advice or recommendations. All information prepared on this site is for informational purposes only, and should not be relied on for legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your own legal, tax or accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. The content on this website is provided “as is;” no representations are made that the content is error-free.

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January 4, 2024


Luis Rivero, CPA

Luis Rivero, CPA


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