Last week some information came to me which, if true, is quite disturbing. It pertained to a vehicle expense reimbursement plan for a couple of county employees who live outside McHenry County and commute to work.
Investigation continues, but perhaps there are readers who can solve the inquiry more rapidly. The issue pertains to a $350 gas allowance for a couple of employees, at least one of whom lives in Lake County. These McHenry County employees drive to work in personally-owned vehicles and reportedly suck up $350/month to pay the operating expenses of the cars while commuting.
For most hard-working stiffs, especially the ones earning less than the $100,000/year that one of the employees might be earning, they pay commuting expenses out of after-tax income. The expenses of driving to and from work are a personal expense and non-deductible on an income tax return.
An employee might make a decision about a job offer, based on how far the workplace is from home, how long it will take to get there, how much it will cost to go back and forth, and what the working hours are. At other times, applicants are desperate to work (sure beats being unemployed) and will take a job almost regardless of the distance.
Commuting expenses are personal expenses. Period.
Now, miles driven on business for an employer ought to be reimbursable. In fact, the IRS allows $0.50/mile for business mileage. If an employee uses a personally-owned vehicle for his employer's purpose, such as driving to a meeting during a workday, the employer might even reimburse that employee at the $0.50/mile rate.
But commuting? No way! The particular employees are not on emergency call. There is no regular business use of personally-owned vehicles. They are employees at the employer's place of business.
Does your employer pay you to commute to work?
More information will follow, once all the facts are uncovered.