- The Washington Times - Monday, December 21, 2009

Pay for a job-related move by Dec. 31 and gain some write-offs. There is help at filing time for people who lose jobs and find new ones that require them to relocate. If the new employers do not pay for the relocation costs or reimburse them, employees can deduct many of the expenses incurred in the shift. To qualify, employees must meet distance and time tests, requirements that also apply to self-employed individuals.

As long as you shell out for moving expenses by Dec. 31, they are deductible on 2009’s 1040. You don’t need to land the job before you move or start work by Dec. 31, provided you satisfy the time test. Another plus is that you don’t even need to satisfy it by the return’s due date. What if you eventually flunk the test? Either amend 2009’s return or report the amount previously deducted for expenses on your 2009 return as income on the return for the year you flunk the test.

The new job has to be at least 50 miles farther from your old home than your previous job location was. Suppose the distance between your old home and your old job is 20 miles. Then the distance between your old home and your new job has to be at least 70 miles.

You have to work full-time in your new location for specified periods - as an employee, at least 39 weeks in the 12-month period after the move; as a self-employed individual, at least 78 weeks in the 24-month period after the move, including at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months. There is no requirement that the weeks be consecutive or that you work for the same employer. If you switch from employee to self-employed before meeting the 39-week test, you still qualify if you meet the 78-week test.

The Internal Revenue Service relaxes the rules for joint filers. Either spouse can meet the full-time work test. But you cannot add the weeks your spouse works to those you work to satisfy that requirement.

Deductible outlays include unreimbursed costs of transporting your family members, pets and belongings to your new home. It is not necessary that you, household members, and Lassie travel together or at the same time. If you use your car for the move, deduct the actual cost of gas and oil or a standard mileage rate - for 2009, 24 cents per mile, plus parking fees and tolls.

You don’t have to itemize to deduct claim moving expenses. Claim this write-off on the front of the 1040 form - the same way write-offs are claimed for, among other things, alimony payments and money moved into retirement plans.

Closing by Dec. 31 on the purchase of a new home can lower your taxes. The inducement for meeting that deadline: an itemized deduction for 2009 if you must pay points (each point equals 1 percent of the loan amount) to obtain a mortgage from a lending institution. Take an immediate deduction in full for upfront interest payments incurred to obtain a loan to buy, build or improve your main home (as when you add or remodel a room), as opposed to, say, a second home that you use as a vacation retreat, or property for which you charge rent.

c Julian Block is a nationally recognized tax expert. To send comments and obtain information about his tax books, go to www.julianblocktaxexpert.com.

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