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State Legislators: Tax Reform Eliminates Deduction for Travel Expenses

Historic tax reform was passed by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Dec. 22, 2017. The IRS is working to educate taxpayers about important changes included in this legislation. One change significant for certain state legislators is the suspension of miscellaneous itemized deductions, which include unreimbursed travel expenses.

Under prior law, state legislators could deduct travel expenses while away from their district on legislative days if their residence was more than 50 miles from the state capitol. This deduction was one of several miscellaneous itemized deductions that taxpayers could claim on Form 1040, Schedule A.

The TCJA suspended this and other miscellaneous itemized deductions for taxable years 2018 through 2025. Beginning Jan. 1, 2018, state legislators’ travel expenses will not be deductible.

Additional information about the TCJA is available on IRS.gov/taxreform.

For reference, here are the pertinent sections of the TCJA and Internal Revenue Code:

----- TCJA -----

 

SEC. 11045. SUSPENSION OF MISCELLANEOUS ITEMIZED DEDUCTIONS.

(a) IN GENERAL.—Section 67 is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

        ‘‘(g) SUSPENSION FOR TAXABLE YEARS 2018 THROUGH 2025.—

        Notwithstanding subsection (a), no miscellaneous itemized deduction shall be allowed for any taxable year  

        beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2026.’’.

(b) EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendment made by this section shall apply to taxable years beginning after December 31, 2017.

 

----- Suspended Provision of the Internal Revenue Code -----

 

IRC Section 162(h) State legislators' travel expenses away from home

(1) In general

For purposes of subsection (a), in the case of any individual who is a State legislator at any time during the taxable year and who makes an election under this subsection for the taxable year-

     (A) the place of residence of such individual within the legislative district which he represented shall be considered his home,

     (B) he shall be deemed to have expended for living expenses (in connection with his trade or business as a legislator) an amount equal to the sum of the amounts determined by multiplying each legislative day of such individual during the taxable year by the greater of-

          (i) the amount generally allowable with respect to such day to employees of the State of which he is a legislator   for per diem while away from home, to the extent such amount does not exceed 110 percent of the amount described in clause (ii) with respect to such day, or

          (ii) the amount generally allowable with respect to such day to employees of the executive branch of the Federal Government for per diem while away from home but serving in the United States, and

     (C) he shall be deemed to be away from home in the pursuit of a trade or business on each legislative day.

 

(2) Legislative days

For purposes of paragraph (1), a legislative day during any taxable year for any individual shall be any day during such year on which-

     (A) the legislature was in session (including any day in which the legislature was not in session for a period of 4 consecutive days or less), or

     (B) the legislature was not in session but the physical presence of the individual was formally recorded at a meeting of a committee of such legislature.

 

(3) Election

An election under this subsection for any taxable year shall be made at such time and in such manner as the Secretary shall by regulations prescribe.

 

(4) Section not to apply to legislators who reside near capitol

This subsection shall not apply to any legislator whose place of residence within the legislative district which he represents is 50 or fewer miles from the capitol building of the State.