Tax Time Approacheth - Time For Questions

Allright, these should be pretty easy for someone who knows their stuff, or impossible arcane stuff for those who don’t (ie. me).

First of all, I switched job in June. I left on very bad terms, as anyone out there who recalls my “How can my ex employer just grab money out of my bank account without my permisson?” thread can attest to.

Now, I assume they’re going to try to pull something shitty because that’s their nature. So, that being said, when do they legally have to have my W2 to me, and who should I contact when they don’t? I’m quite sure it will be “lost in the mail” just to inconvenience me. Because that’s the type of petty little bitches they are.

Second, my current employer (started July 5th) pays me .36/mile for my driving. From what I understand, the IRS rate went to .58 on July 1.

Can I claim the difference on my taxes? How’s that work? For that matter, when I file an expense report (with my mileage on it), I break down the mileage, but I don’t get it broken down on the stubs with my expense checks. Will I be getting another form of some kind from my employer that will detail what I filed as mileage?

Naturally, I’m looking to legitimately maximize my refund without getting myself an IRS colonoscopy.


They should have them out and post marked by Jan 31, 2010. For your expences I think your employer will give you a 1099 for them. On your return I believe you show the total amount recieved and the deduct your expences, the difference should go into the misc employee expences of your tax return.

You should be able to claim the differential but it would be an employee business expense (Form 2106) and subect to a 2% of AGI limitation as well as requiring you to itemize to (possibly) benefit.

You probably won’t get any reporting from your employer although they can put about anything they want to in box 14.

Regulations require the employer to postmark the W-2 by January 31, but, from experience, the IRS doesn’t take action until after February 15, if then.

And when it comes down to it, box 14 is what the employer is sending to the IRS?

So basically, I’m looking at a lump sum in box 14, and from that I’ll take my mileage at IRS rate, plus receipts for any other expenses (there’s a lot), and the final result is what I’ll be able to claim for a deduction?


To the best of my knowledge there’s no obligation to reimburse mileage at the Federal rate – or even, IIRC, at all. The Federal rate exists as (a) a guideline for firms doing reimbursements, but more importantly (b) the acceptable rate for deductions where mileage is appropriate on Federal returns. For example, if you are self employed and drove to various businesses within a 100 mile radius to function as a consultant, the appropriate claim to make as a cost-of-business deduction is the mileage at the Federal rate. It includes both cost of fuel and depreciation on the vehicle, if I’m not mistaken.

If the IRS allows you an amount, and your employer pays you less, you can claim the difference, in some cases depending on the deduction your actual cannot be greater than the claimed

For instance if you are reimbursed 25¢ on the dollar and the IRS allows 50¢ on the dollar and the acutal expense is 40¢ on the dollar you can only claim 15¢ on the mile

Because your actual is 40¢ - 25¢ (your employer gave you). You don’t get to claim 50¢ unless your actual expense was that. That number is really an “up to” number.

As for employers not giving you your W2, if they say it was lost in the mail, not much you can do but ask for another. The IRS has specific instructions on what do do if your employer fails to provide you with one.

Here is the specific site forif you don’t get your W2

Box 14 is (or at least used to be) informational only. There isn’t any matching involved like Box 1 for your taxable wages and the boxes that show income tax withholding.

There is no good reason to assume that there will be anything pertinent in Box 14…sorry I even brought it up.

It is up to you to determine how much in mileage was reimbursed to you at the lower rate and what the differential would be at the higher rate that is allowed.

There is no 1099 for reimbursed expenses. It doesn’t come into play at all for individual income taxes.

Correct, the feds don’t have any say about what companies have to do for reimbursement; it is set by company policy (however, the federal government reimburses at that rate for its own employees). It’s for tax purposes only. Most companies use the federal mileage rate for convenience. It includes all expenses related to operating a vehicle.

Just to clarify a couple of things:

Re. W-2s: The 1/31 postmark deadline is correct. If they try to mess with you by not sending it to you, your options are unfortunately limited. First of all, the general rule is, you can’t file at all without your W2. However, if you don’t have your W2 and have made reasonable efforts to get it, you can file with a “substitute” W2 (your tax preparer can help you with this) but you must provide/estimate the information for it (such as from your final paystub of the year, which should contain all your pertinent figures). You cannot file with a substitute W2 until after (I believe) 2/15. There is nothing the IRS will do on your behalf to “make” your former employer send you one.

Re. reimbursed/unreimbursed expenses: there may or may not be detail about these on or with your W2, but it doesn’t matter. Provided the unreimbursed expenses are legit (note that this is a big if with a lot of tests that must be met), they are deductible as an itemized deduction subject to the 2%-of-gross-income floor (note that this is a fairly high threshold for most people to meet, so it doesn’t benefit most people). And yes, the per-mile differential between your employer’s rate and the federal rate is indeed deductible in this batch of expenses. If you use the per-mile method you cannot deduct any other expenses associated with the car. Be sure you have good records to back you up in case you are audited.

Actually you can also deduct work related parking and a pro-rata amount of any interest you pay on a car loan.

Ah. I stand corrected. You can also deduct tolls.

At the end of the day, you are responsible for filing your return. Short of a tax service or attorney, the best tax advice should come from these folks and not an anonymous message board. YMMV.

No - the employer will typically NOT give you a 1099 for business-related expenses. I’ve done business travel for decades and have never gotten one (and having worked for both a Big-Eight accounting firm, and another very large US-based corporation which is known for having a lot of business travel, I suspect they know how to do it correctly).

Re the mileage: I don’t know for sure whether this is appropriate, but: if you have business expenses that are not reimbursed, you can deduct them. The catch is that you can only deduct them if they exceed a certain amount of your AGI:

Whether the mileage difference is deductible as such a miscellaneous expense, I don’t know.

Not much to add - looks like good answers so far.

On the 1099 issue: It is wrong for an employer to issue a 1099 for reimbursed expenses. But some do anyway. I’ve also seen 1099s incorrectly issued for vacation pay, sick pay and severance pay. There are a lot of very confused small employers who have no idea what they’re doing, and some others who just don’t want to pay payroll taxes.

On substitute W-2s: IRS regulations specify that you must wait until 2/15. However, many tax preparers (including certain chains) will promise that they can do it sooner, in an effort to get your business away from other people. So… if you find a preparer who promises to do it sooner, you should leave and go find an ethical preparer.