For Those Of You Too Afraid To Ask…. If The 50 Mile Myth is Nonsense, What Is The Rule?

Stick House
What are you looking at!? This is my tax home and its more than 50 miles away from my assignment!! My recruiter told me so!!

Okay- Don’t be afraid to ask questions ….. Since the first post on this topic, I have heard from a few people who want to know the accepted rule but don’t want to ask publicly. Ok, that’s fine 🙂

The benchmark for deductible lodging expenses –  OR better, in tax jargon as it applies to per diems for lodging –  the benchmark for determining if the housing/lodging reimbursement is excluded from your reported wages is …… guess what? ……….. an overnight stay where you have to pay for lodging!!! Pretty logical huh? Our tax code does make sense at times.

Why should you receive a tax free reimbursement for lodging unless you have an expense to reimburse? As I said earlier, a trucker who sleeps in their cab cannot receive a tax free lodging per diem and they are traveling how far away from home? I guess the “50 mile rule” has that covered…..

Now, you cant just waltz 25 miles down the road and decide you don’t like your main home and stay in an apartment OR for those of you that are more honest: you don’t like your stick house that you masquerade as a residence to get tax free money because the in-laws live there …….. Its a bit “unreasonable” (another one of those terms of art in the tax code) to need a second home such a short distance away.

The next time a recruiter tries to sell you on the 50 MILE RULE, send them here and let them ask why! 🙂


    • Correct. The test is an overnight stay where you incur lodging expenses. Driving 50 miles doesn’t prove you had lodging expenses to reimburse – it only proves you drove 50 miles


  1. Those are either 1) Agency internal controls that can vary with each agency – unfortunately they get treated as tax law by the company when they are not. 2) Keep in mind that some hospital/facilities impose a minimum mileage on premium paid staff


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