Publication 521 (2018), Moving Expenses

For use in preparing 2018 Returns


Publication 521 - Introductory Material

What's New

Suspension of moving expense deductions. For tax years 2018 through 2025, the deduction of certain moving expenses is suspended for nonmilitary taxpayers. In order to deduct certain moving expenses, you must be an active member of the military and moving due to a permanent change of duty station. For more information, see Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses , later.

Moving expense reimbursements. For tax years 2018 through 2025, reimbursements for certain moving expenses are no longer excluded from the gross income of nonmilitary taxpayers. For more information, see Reimbursements , later.

Standard mileage rate. For 2018, the standard mileage rate for using your vehicle to move to a new home is 18 cents a mile. See Travel by car under Deductible Moving Expenses.

Reminders

Future developments. For the latest information about developments related to Pub. 521, such as legislation enacted after it was published, go to IRS.gov/Pub521.

Change of address. If you change your mailing address, be sure to notify the IRS using Form 8822, Change of Address. Mail it to the Internal Revenue Service Center for your old address. Addresses for the service centers are on the back of the form. If you change your business address or the identity of your responsible party, use Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party — Business.

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Introduction

This publication explains the deduction of certain moving expenses to a new home by active military taxpayers (and certain family members) because of a permanent change of duty station. It includes the following topics.

  • Who can deduct moving expenses.

  • What moving expenses are deductible.

  • What moving expenses aren't deductible.

  • How a reimbursement affects your moving expense deduction.

  • How and when to report moving expenses.

Form 3903, Moving Expenses, is used to claim the moving expense deduction. An example of how to report your moving expenses is shown near the end of the publication.

Recordkeeping.

It is important to maintain an accurate record of expenses you paid to move. You should save items such as receipts, bills, canceled checks, credit card statements, and mileage logs. Also, you should save your Form W-2 and statements of reimbursement from your employer.

Comments and suggestions.

We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.

You can send us comments through IRS.gov/FormComments. Or you can write to:

Internal Revenue Service
Tax Forms and Publications
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526
Washington, DC 20224

 

Although we can’t respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax forms, instructions, and publications.

Ordering forms and publications.

Visit IRS.gov/FormsPubs to download forms and publications. Otherwise, you can go to IRS.gov/OrderForms to order current and prior-year forms and instructions. Your order should arrive within 10 business days.

Tax questions.

If you have a tax question not answered by this publication, check IRS.gov and How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication.

Useful Items - You may want to see:

Publication

  • 3 Armed Forces' Tax Guide

Forms (and Instructions)

  • 1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  • Schedule 1 (Form 1040) Additional Income and Adjustments to Income

  • 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

  • 3903 Moving Expenses

  • 8822 Change of Address

  • 8822-B Change of Address or Responsible Party — Business

See How To Get Tax Help near the end of this publication, for information about getting the publications and the forms listed above.

Publication 521 - Main Content

Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses

If you are a member of the Armed Forces on active duty and you move because of a permanent change of station, you can deduct your unreimbursed moving expenses.

A permanent change of station includes:

  • A move from your home to your first post of active duty,

  • A move from one permanent post of duty to another, and

  • A move from your last post of duty to your home or to a nearer point in the United States. The move must occur within 1 year of ending your active duty or within the period allowed under the Joint Travel Regulations.

 

Spouse and dependents.

If a member of the Armed Forces dies, is imprisoned, or deserts, a permanent change of station for the spouse or dependent includes a move to:

  • The place of enlistment;

  • The member's, spouse's, or dependent's home of record; or

  • A nearer point in the United States.

 

If the military moves you, your spouse, and dependents to or from separate locations, the moves are treated as a single move to your new main job location.

Deductible Moving Expenses

If you meet the requirements discussed earlier under Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses , you can deduct the reasonable expenses of:

  • Moving your household goods and personal effects (including in-transit or foreign-move storage expenses), and

  • Traveling (including lodging but not meals) to your new home.

 

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You can't deduct any expenses for meals.

Reasonable expenses.

You can deduct only those expenses that are reasonable for the circumstances of your move. For example, the cost of traveling from your former home to your new one should be by the shortest, most direct route available by conventional transportation. If, during your trip to your new home, you stop over, or make side trips for sightseeing, the additional expenses for your stopover or side trips aren't deductible as moving expenses.

Example.

Beth moves from Devens, Massachusetts, to Brooklyn, New York, her new duty station. On her way to Brooklyn, Beth drove into Canada to visit the Toronto Zoo. Since Beth's excursion into Canada was away from the usual Devens-Brooklyn route, the expenses paid or incurred for the excursion aren't deductible. Beth can only deduct what it would have cost to drive directly from Devens to Brooklyn. Likewise, Beth can't deduct any expenses, such as the cost of a hotel room, caused by the delay for sightseeing.

Travel by car.

If you use your car to take yourself, members of your household, or your personal effects to your new home, you can figure your expenses by deducting either:

  • Your actual expenses, such as the amount you pay for gas and oil for your car, if you keep an accurate record of each expense, or

  • The standard mileage rate of 18 cents a mile.

Whether you use actual expenses or the standard mileage rate to figure your expenses, you can deduct the parking fees and tolls you pay to move. You can't deduct any part of general repairs, general maintenance, insurance, or depreciation for your car.

Member of your household.

You can deduct moving expenses you pay for yourself and members of your household. A member of your household is anyone who has both your former and new home as his or her home. It doesn't include a tenant or employee, unless that person is your dependent.

Moves to Locations in the United States

If you meet the requirements under Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses , earlier, you can deduct expenses for a move to the area of a new main job location within the United States or its possessions. Your move may be from one U.S. location to another or from a foreign country to the United States.

Household goods and personal effects.

You can deduct the cost of packing, crating, and transporting your household goods and personal effects and those of the members of your household from your former home to your new home. For purposes of moving expenses, the term "personal effects" includes, but isn't limited to, movable personal property that the taxpayer owns and frequently uses.

If you use your own car to move your things, see Travel by car, earlier.

You can deduct any costs of connecting or disconnecting utilities required because you are moving your household goods, appliances, or personal effects.

You can deduct the cost of shipping your car and your household pets to your new home.

You can deduct the cost of moving your household goods and personal effects from a place other than your former home. Your deduction is limited to the amount it would have cost to move them from your former home.

Example.

Paul Brown has been stationed in North Carolina for the last four years. Because he has been renting a small apartment, he stored some furniture at his parents' home in Georgia. Paul received a permanent change in duty station to Washington, DC. It cost him $900 to move the furniture from his North Carolina apartment to Washington and $3,000 to move the stored furniture from Georgia to Washington. It would have cost $1,800 to ship the stored furniture from North Carolina to Washington. He can deduct only $1,800 of the $3,000 he paid. The amount he can deduct for moving his furniture is $2,700 ($900 + $1,800).

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You can't deduct the cost of moving furniture you buy on the way to your new home.

Storage expenses.

You can include the cost of storing and insuring household goods and personal effects within any period of 30 consecutive days after the day your things are moved from your former home and before they are delivered to your new home.

Travel expenses.

You can deduct the cost of transportation and lodging for yourself and members of your household while traveling from your former home to your new home. This includes expenses for the day you arrive.

The day of arrival is the day you secure lodging at the new place of residence, even if the lodging is on a temporary basis.

You can include any lodging expenses you had in the area of your former home within 1 day after you could no longer live in your former home because your furniture had been moved.

The members of your household don't have to travel together or at the same time. However, you can only deduct expenses for one trip per person. If you use your own car, see Travel by car, earlier.

Example.

In February 2018, Josh and Robyn moved from Bellevue, Nebraska, where Robyn was stationed at her new duty station in Washington, DC. Josh drove the family car to Washington, a trip of 1,160 miles. His expenses were $209 for mileage (1,160 x 18 cents a mile) plus $40 for tolls and $150 for lodging, for a total of $399. One week later, Robyn flew from Bellevue to Washington. Her only expense was her $400 plane ticket. Their deduction is $799 (Josh's $399 + Robyn's $400).

Moves to Locations Outside the United States

To deduct expenses for a move outside the United States, you must move to the area of a new place of work outside the United States and its possessions. You must meet the requirements under Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses , earlier.

Deductible expenses.

If your move is to a location outside the United States and its possessions, you can deduct the following expenses.

  • The cost of moving household goods and personal effects from your former home to your new home.

  • The cost of traveling (including lodging) from your former home to your new home.

  • The cost of moving household goods and personal effects to and from storage.

  • The cost of storing household goods and personal effects while you are at the new job location.

The first two items were explained earlier under Moves to Locations in the United States . The last two items are discussed later.

Moving goods and effects to and from storage.

You can deduct the reasonable expenses of moving your personal effects to and from storage.

Storage expenses.

You can deduct the reasonable expenses of storing your household goods and personal effects for all or part of the time the new job location remains your main job location.

Moving expenses allocable to excluded foreign income.

If you live and work outside the United States, you may be able to exclude from income part or all of the income you earn in the foreign country. You may also be able to claim a foreign housing exclusion or deduction. However, if you do claim the foreign earned income or foreign housing exclusion, you can't deduct the part of your moving expenses that relates to the excluded income.

Pub. 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad, explains how to figure the part of your moving expenses that relates to excluded income. You can get the publication from most U.S. embassies and consulates, or see How To Get Tax Help at the end of this publication.

Nondeductible Expenses

You can't deduct the following items as moving expenses.

  • Any part of the purchase price of your new home.

  • Car tags.

  • Driver's license.

  • Expenses of buying or selling a home (including closing costs, mortgage fees, and points).

  • Expenses of entering into or breaking a lease.

  • Home improvements to help sell your home.

  • Loss on the sale of your home.

  • Losses from disposing of memberships in clubs.

  • Mortgage penalties.

  • Pre-move househunting expenses.

  • Real estate taxes.

  • Refitting of carpet and draperies.

  • Return trips to your former residence.

  • Security deposits (including any given up due to the move).

  • Storage charges except those incurred in transit and for foreign moves.

 

No double deduction.

You can't take a moving expense deduction and a business expense deduction for the same expenses. You must decide if your expenses are deductible as moving expenses or as business expenses. For example, expenses you have for travel, meals, and lodging while temporarily working at a place away from your regular place of work may be deductible as business expenses if you are considered away from home on business. In most cases, your work at a single location is considered temporary if it is realistically expected to last (and does in fact last) for 1 year or less.

See Pub. 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses, for information on deducting your business expenses.

Reimbursements

This section explains how to report a reimbursement (including advances and allowances) on your tax return. It covers reimbursements for any of your moving expenses discussed in this publication.

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For tax years 2018 through 2025, the exclusion of moving expense reimbursements for nonmilitary taxpayers is suspended.

Services or reimbursements provided by government.

Don't include in income the value of moving and storage services provided by the government because of a permanent change of station. In general, if the total reimbursements or allowances you receive from the government because of the move are more than your actual moving expenses, the government must include the excess in your wages on Form W-2. However, the excess portion of a dislocation allowance, a temporary lodging allowance, a temporary lodging expense, or a move-in housing allowance isn't included in income and shouldn't be included in box 1 of Form W-2.

If your reimbursements or allowances are less than your actual moving expenses, don't include the reimbursements or allowances in income. You can deduct the expenses that are more than your reimbursements. See Deductible Moving Expenses, earlier.

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You can't claim a moving expense deduction for expenses covered by reimbursements excluded from income.

Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

Don't include in income any moving expense payment you received under the Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970. These payments are made to persons displaced from their homes, businesses, or farms by federal projects.

How and When To Report

This section explains how and when to report your moving expenses and any reimbursements you received for your move. For a quick overview, see Table 2.

Form 3903

Use Form 3903 to figure your moving expense deduction. Use a separate Form 3903 for each move for which you are deducting expenses.

Don't file Form 3903 if all of the following apply.

  • You moved to a location outside the United States in an earlier year.

  • You are claiming only storage fees while you were away from the United States.

  • Any amount your employer paid for the storage fees is included as wages in box 1 of your Form W-2.

Instead, enter the storage fees (after the reduction for the part that is allocable to excluded income) on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 26, and enter "Storage" on the dotted line next to the amount.

Completing Form 3903.

Take the following steps.

  1. Complete lines 1 through 3 of the form, using your actual expenses. However, if you use your own car, you can figure expenses based on the standard mileage rate, instead of the actual amounts for gas and oil.

  2. Enter on line 4 the total reimbursements and allowances you received from the government for the expenses claimed on lines 1 and 2. Don't include the value of moving or storage services provided by the government. Also, don't include any part of a dislocation allowance, a temporary lodging allowance, a temporary lodging expense, or a move-in housing allowance.

  3. Complete line 5. If line 3 is more than line 4, subtract line 4 from line 3 and enter the result on line 5 and on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 26. This is your moving expense deduction. If line 3 is equal to or less than line 4, you don't have a moving expense deduction. Subtract line 3 from line 4 and, if the result is more than zero, enter it on Form 1040, line 1.

If the military moves you, your spouse, and dependents, to or from different locations, treat these moves as a single move.

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Don't deduct any expenses for moving or storage services provided by the government.

Expenses greater than reimbursement.

If line 3 is more than line 4, subtract line 4 from line 3 and enter the result on line 5 and on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 26. This is your moving expense deduction.

Expenses equal to or less than reimbursement.

If line 3 is equal to or less than line 4, you have no moving expense deduction. Subtract line 3 from line 4 and, if the result is more than zero, include it as income on Form 1040, line 1.

Table 2. Reporting Your Moving Expenses and Reimbursements
IF your Form W-2 shows... AND you have... THEN...
your reimbursement reported only in box 12 with code P moving expenses greater than the amount in box 12 file Form 3903 showing all allowable expenses* and reimbursements.
your reimbursement reported only in box 12 with code P moving expenses equal to the amount in box 12 don't file Form 3903.
your reimbursement divided between box 12 and box 1 moving expenses greater than the amount in box 12 file Form 3903 showing all allowable expenses,* but only the reimbursements reported in box 12 of Form W-2.
your entire reimbursement reported as wages in box 1 moving expenses file Form 3903 showing all allowable expenses,* but don't show any reimbursements.
no reimbursement moving expenses file Form 3903 showing all allowable expenses.*
* See Deductible Moving Expenses, earlier, for allowable expenses.

 

Where to deduct.

Deduct your moving expenses on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 26. The amount of moving expenses you can deduct is shown on Form 3903, line 5.

When To Deduct Expenses

You may have a choice of when to deduct your moving expenses.

Expenses not fully reimbursed.

If you weren't reimbursed for all of your moving expenses, deduct those expenses not reimbursed in the year you paid or incurred the expenses.

Example.

In December 2017, you received a military order for a permanent change in duty station to another city in the United States, where you are still stationed. You are single and weren't reimbursed for all of your moving expenses. In 2017, you paid to move your furniture and deducted these expenses on your 2017 tax return. In January 2018, you paid for travel to the new city. You can deduct these additional expenses on your 2018 tax return.

Expenses reimbursed.

If you are reimbursed for your expenses and you use the cash method of accounting, you can deduct your expenses either in the year you paid them or in the year you received the reimbursement. If you use the cash method of accounting, you can choose to deduct the expenses in the year you are reimbursed even though you paid the expenses in a different year. See Choosing when to deduct next.

If you deduct your expenses and you receive the reimbursement in a later year, you must include the reimbursement in your income on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 21.

Choosing when to deduct.

If you use the cash method of accounting, which is used by most individuals, you can choose to deduct moving expenses in the year your employer reimburses you if:

  • You paid the expenses in a year before the year of reimbursement, or

  • You paid the expenses in the year immediately after the year of reimbursement but by the due date, including extensions, for filing your return for the reimbursement year.

 

How to make the choice.

You choose to deduct moving expenses in the year you received reimbursement by taking the deduction on your return, or amended return, for that year.

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You can't deduct any moving expenses for which you received a reimbursement that wasn't included in your income.

Illustrated Example

Tom and Peggy are married and have two children. They owned a home in Tampa, Florida, where Tom, an active member of the Air Force, was stationed. On February 7, 2018, Tom received military orders informing him of a mandatory change in post of duty to the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo, California. Peggy flew to California on March 1 to look for a new home. She put down a down payment of $25,000 on a house being built and returned to Tampa on March 4. Tom and Peggy sold their Tampa home for $1,500 less than they paid for it. They contracted to have their personal effects moved to California on April 3. The family drove to El Segundo, California, where they found that their new home wasn't finished. They stayed in a nearby motel until the house was ready on May 1. On April 13, Tom resumed his duties at the Los Angeles Air Force Base where he is currently stationed.

Their records for the move show:

1) Peggy's pre-move househunting
trip:
   
  Travel and lodging   $ 449    
  Meals   75   $ 524
2) Down payment on El Segundo
home
25,000
3) Real estate commission paid on
sale of Tampa home
3,500
4) Loss on sale of Tampa home (not
including real estate commission)
1,500
5) Amount paid for moving personal
effects (furniture, other household
goods, etc.)
8,000
6) Expenses of driving to El Segundo:    
  Mileage (Start 14,278;
End 16,478)
2,550 miles at 18 cents a mile
  $ 459    
  Lodging   180    
  Meals   320   959
7) Cost of temporary living
expenses in El Segundo:
   
  Motel rooms   $1,450    
  Meals   2,280   3,730
Total $43,128
 

 

Tom was reimbursed as follows:

Moving personal effects   $ 6,800
Travel (and lodging) to El Segundo   639
Total reimbursement   $7,439

 

The military included this reimbursement on Tom's Form W-2 for the year. The reimbursement of allowable expenses, $7,439 for moving household goods and travel to El Segundo, was included in box 12 of Form W-2. His employer identified this amount with code P.

To figure his tax deduction for moving expenses, Tom enters the following amounts on Form 3903.

Item 5 — moving personal effects (line 1)   $8,000
Item 6 — driving to San Diego ($459 + $180)
(line 2)
  639
Total tax deductible moving expenses (line 3)   $8,639
Minus: Reimbursement included in box 12
of Form W-2 (line 4)
  7,439
Tax deduction for moving expenses (line 5)   $1,200
 

 

Tom's Form 3903 is shown later. He also enters his deduction, $1,200, on Schedule 1 (Form 1040), line 26.

Nondeductible expenses.

Of the $43,213 expenses that Tom and Peggy incurred, the following items totaling $34,574 ($43,213 – $8,639) can't be deducted.

  • Item 1 — pre-move househunting expenses of $524.

  • Item 2 — the $25,000 down payment on the El Segundo home. If any part of it were for payment of deductible taxes or interest on the mortgage on the house, that part would be deductible as an itemized deduction.

  • Item 3 — the $3,500 real estate commission paid on the sale of the Tampa home. The commission is used to figure the gain or loss on the sale.

  • Item 4 — the $1,500 loss on the sale of the Tampa home.

  • Item 6 — the $320 expense for meals while driving to El Segundo. (However, the lodging and car expenses are deductible.)

  • Item 7 — temporary living expenses of $3,730.

 

 

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2018 Form 3903 Moving Expenses

Please click here for the text description of the image.

 

 

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TAS is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayer rights. Their job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

How Can You Learn About Your Taxpayer Rights?

The Taxpayer Bill of Rights describes 10 basic rights that all taxpayers have when dealing with the IRS. Go to TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov to help you understand what these rights mean to you and how they apply. These are your rights. Know them. Use them.

What Can TAS Do For You?

TAS can help you resolve problems that you can’t resolve with the IRS. And their service is free. If you qualify for their assistance, you will be assigned to one advocate who will work with you throughout the process and will do everything possible to resolve your issue. TAS can help you if:

  • Your problem is causing financial difficulty for you, your family, or your business;

  • You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action; or

  • You’ve tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS hasn’t responded by the date promised.

 

How Can You Reach TAS?

TAS has offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Your local advocate’s number is in your local directory and at TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov/Contact-Us. You can also call them at 877-777-4778.

How Else Does TAS Help Taxpayers?

TAS works to resolve large-scale problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to them at IRS.gov/SAMS.

TAS also has a website, Tax Reform Changes, which shows you how the new tax law may change your future tax filings and helps you plan for these changes. The information is categorized by tax topic in the order of the IRS Form 1040. Go to TaxChanges.us for more information.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs)

LITCs are independent from the IRS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems with the IRS, such as audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes. In addition, clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. To find a clinic near you, visit TaxpayerAdvocate.IRS.gov/LITCmap or see IRS Pub. 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

Publication 521 - Additional Material

Index

A

Address, change of, Reminders
Armed Forces
Services or reimbursements provided by government, Services or reimbursements provided by government.
Spouse and dependents, Spouse and dependents.
Assistance (see Tax help)

C

Change of address, Reminders

E

Excluded foreign income
Moving expenses allocable to, Moving expenses allocable to excluded foreign income.

F

Form 1040
Moving expense deduction, Where to deduct.
Form 3903
Completing form, Completing Form 3903.
Moving expense deduction calculation, Form 3903
Form W-2
Reimbursements
Government provided for Armed Forces members, Services or reimbursements provided by government.

I

Identity theft, Resolving tax-related identity theft issues.
Important reminders, Reminders

N

Nondeductible expenses, Nondeductible Expenses

P

Personal effects, Household goods and personal effects.
Moving to and from storage, Moving goods and effects to and from storage.
Publications (see Tax help)

R

Reasonable expenses, Reasonable expenses.
Reimbursements, Reimbursements
Armed Forces members, Services or reimbursements provided by government.
Reporting moving expenses and reimbursements (Table 2), How and When To Report
Reporting expenses, How and When To Report
Expenses equal to or less than reimbursement, Expenses equal to or less than reimbursement.
Expenses greater than reimbursement, Expenses greater than reimbursement.
Form 3903, deduction calculation, Form 3903
Moving expenses and reimbursements (Table 2), How and When To Report

S

Spouse of Armed Forces member, Spouse and dependents.
Standard mileage rate, What's New
Storage expenses, Storage expenses., Storage expenses.

T

Tables and figures
Reporting moving expenses and reimbursements (Table 2), How and When To Report
Tax help, How To Get Tax Help
Travel by car, Travel by car.
Travel expenses, Travel expenses.

U

Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970, Uniform Relocation Assistance and Real Property Acquisition Policies Act of 1970.

W

When to deduct expenses, When To Deduct Expenses, Illustrated Example
Choosing when to deduct, Choosing when to deduct.
Expenses not reimbursed, Expenses not fully reimbursed.
Expenses reimbursed, Expenses reimbursed.
How to make choice, How to make the choice.
Who can deduct, Who Can Deduct Moving Expenses