January 4, 2019 12:48 am

5 Things to Know about Write-Offs for Driving in 2019

You may be thinking of buying or leasing a new vehicle for 2019. Or you may drive your new or existing car or truck for business or other purposes. Here are 5 things to know about the tax rules that affect these actions.

1. Business driving may or may not be deductible

It depends on whether or not you are an employee. If you are an employee, you cannot deduct your business driving because of the suspension of miscellaneous itemized deductions subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income floor. If you are self-employed, you can deduct the cost of business driving by totaling up your actual costs or using an IRS standard mileage rate. For 2019, that rate is 58 cents per mile (3.5 cents higher than in 2018).

Note: If you use the IRS standard mileage rate, you must reduce the basis of your vehicle (used to determine gain or loss when you dispose of it) at the rate of 26 cents per mile driven in 2019 (the basis reduction is 25 cents per mile for 2018 and 2017).

2. Medical driving is deductible for itemizers           

If you don’t claim the standard deduction, you can treat the cost of driving for medical purposes (e.g., to see a doctor, pick up prescriptions, attend physical therapy) as a medical expense. For 2019, the IRS-set standard mileage rate for this purpose is 20 cents per mile, or a penny more than in 2018. However, for 2019, your out-of-pocket medical expenses will be deductible only to the extent they exceed 10% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), unless Congress extends to 2019 the 7.5% of AGI threshold that applies for 2018.

3. Driving related to relocation is only deductible for the military

If you drive your vehicle when you move because of a change of location for a job or business, you cannot deduct the cost. Only active duty military personnel who move pursuant to a military order and incident to a permanent change of station can deduct their moving costs. The driving rate for them in 2019 is 20 cents per mile.

4. Driving for charitable purposes is still deductible

As long as you itemize your personal deductions, you can deduct the cost of driving for charity at the rate of 14 cents per mile (a rate that’s set by Congress and is not adjusted annually by the IRS). Thus, if you volunteer for Meals on Wheels, you can deduct the 14 cents rate for your 2019 mileage.

5. Buying an electric vehicle may or may not give you a tax credit

Usually you can take a tax credit for buying a plug-in electric drive motor vehicle of up to $7,500. This is so whether you use the vehicle for personal or business purposes. However, because Tesla has been so successful in selling their vehicles, the federal tax credit for buying one of them in 2019 is reduced. Starting on January 1, 2019, the credit is only $3,750. And for purchases on or after July 1, 2019, the credit will be reduced to $1,875 for the balance of the year. No credit will be available for the purchase of a plug-in electric drive Tesla after 2019.

Note: Other manufacturers may top 200,000 in sales in 2019, which will trigger a reduction in this tax credit for their vehicles.


As with any tax write-offs, be sure to retain required records. For example, when it comes to driving your vehicle, you need specific substantiation to claim any deduction.