Can performing artists (say, orchestra members, working in several groups as employee) deduct mileage to rehearsals and concerts? It is typical in our area for musicians to play in 2 or three symphony orchestras in neighboring communities – and the mileage can really mount up! And yet they are “employees”, getting a W-2. What am I missing?
Any help would be useful.
Your question has some complications. Basically, you need to decide where your tax home is located; this may not be the same as your family home, but rather it is the entire city or general area where you regularly conduct business. So if you have a regular job or one job where most or your rehearsals and performances take place, then that is your tax home. Travel expenses, including mileage, to locations outside this area are deductible. If you have more than one work location, then your tax home is the main place of business where most of the time, income, or degree of business activity occurs.
If you have no main place of business, your tax home is the same as your
main home if:
1) you perform some work in the vicinity of the main residence, and the residence is used for lodging while doing business there.
2) You incur duplicate business expenses while on business travel.
a) have not abandoned the vicinity in which your historical place of lodging and main residence are located.
b) Have family members currently residing at the main residence.
c) You frequently use the main residence for lodging.
If only two of the above factors are met you still may have a tax home, but this would need further examination. If one or none of the above factors are met then you are considered a transient worker and travel expenses, including mileage, are not deductible. If you have a home office, like a practice studio (see article about home offices on polyphonic.org) then mileage to these other job locations would be deductible. If no home office, then mileage between two jobs in different locations on the same day would be deductible even if you are considered a transient worker.
I hope this is helpful,