What Qualifies as Moving Expenses: A Detailed Overview

Published: 16 Aug, 2023

Last Updated: 17 Aug, 2023

Serik Baimoldayev

Serik Baimoldayev

What qualifies as moving expenses is a question many people grapple with when relocating.

The process of moving can be costly, and understanding what you can deduct on your taxes could save you a significant amount of money.

This isn’t just about the obvious costs like hiring movers or renting a truck. Figuring out what qualifies as a moving cost involves being familiar with the particular standards set by US tax laws.

Determining what qualifies as moving expenses, however, requires an understanding of specific criteria set by tax laws in the United States.

Table of Contents:

Understanding Qualifying Moving Expenses

Moving can be a real strain on the pocketbook, particularly for households with children and animals. But did you know that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) allows deductions on certain moving expenses under specific conditions?

Digging Deeper into Moving Expenses

The term “moving expenses” generally refers to costs associated with relocating due to changes in job location or when starting a new employment opportunity. These include transporting household goods, storage fees during transit, travel expenditures, such as gas or mileage if using your own vehicle (based on IRS issues standard mileage rates), and even payments made towards packing services.

Deductible vs Non-Deductible: Know The Difference

It’s crucial to note that not all moving expenses qualify for tax deductions according to IRS regulations. Deductible items are typically direct transportation-related charges like shipping furniture or other household belongings, while non-deductible ones often involve personal comfort during the move – meals en route and temporary lodging before reaching your final destination fall under nondeductible moving expenses.

Tax Laws & How They Affect Your Move

Bear in mind that law changes have altered how these deductions work since the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2018, which largely eliminated this deduction except for some active-duty military members undergoing permanent change of station orders. It is always advisable to consult up-to-date resources when planning potential tax benefits related to relocation.

Eligibility Requirements for Moving Expense Deductions

The IRS has established particular conditions that must be fulfilled to be able to claim deductions for moving expenses. A fundamental prerequisite is that your move must be closely tied to the commencement of work, ideally coinciding with a new job location or employment opportunity.

Time Test Requirement: Understanding How it Works

In addition to these guidelines, there’s also what we refer to as the “time test.” Within one year following the date of relocation, you need to have been employed full-time for at least 39 weeks. This rule applies if you wish to deduct costs related to transporting household goods and other qualified items on tax filings.

If, however, you are self-employed or run an independent business enterprise, different rules apply under the Jobs Act law change affecting moving cost deductions. Namely, such individuals need to meet both the initial time test and an additional two-year period working full-time rule post-move.

Sometimes special circumstances may arise where exceptions are made by the IRS regarding qualifications for moving expenses, such as permanent change in station military personnel moves or when payments made by an employer cover some non-qualified moving expenses that don’t count towards deduction limits.

Understanding Deductible Moving Expenses

Navigating the world of moving expenses can be complex, but with a clear understanding of IRS guidelines on deductible costs, you can significantly reduce your financial burden. Here’s how to ensure that your moving expenses qualify for deductions.

1. Transporting Household Goods and Personal Effects

The first category of deductible expenses involves transporting household goods from one home to another. This includes not only the cost associated with packing and crating items, such as furniture or appliances but also covers shipping charges if you’re transporting larger possessions like cars or boats.

Moving expense deductions extend beyond just physical belongings though – they also cover travel-related costs incurred while making the move itself. However, it’s important to note that this doesn’t include meals during transit; instead, eligible claims under these provisions are limited to lodging along with tolls and parking fees encountered en route.

2. Storage Costs in Certain Circumstances

If there is a permanent change in job location leading up to the move, then storage costs related to moving become part and parcel of deductible expenses according to IRS guidelines. These payments made towards storing household goods must fall within any 30 consecutive days after leaving your old residence before delivering at the new dwelling place. This provision offers significant relief, especially when transitioning between homes isn’t immediate due to unforeseen circumstances or logistical challenges.

3. Work Related Moves & The Jobs Act Law Change Affects

A key point about deducting moving costs revolves around work-related moves. The qualifications for moving expenses now have stricter criteria post-Jobs Act law change. Accordingly, military personnel undergoing a permanent change in station form an exception here, and their relevant moving expense deductions remain intact. It is essential to be aware of these alterations in order to not pass up any probable tax savings.

Key Takeaway: Cracking the code on deductible moving expenses isn’t rocket science. Remember, costs for transporting household goods and personal effects are fair game, as well as certain storage costs if there’s a job-related move. However, post-Jobs Act law change has tightened criteria – so stay sharp.

Non-Deductible Expenses

In the realm of moving expenses, it’s crucial to understand that not all costs associated with your relocation are deductible. These non-qualified moving expenses can significantly impact your budget and understanding them is key.

1. Nondeductible Meal and Lodging Costs

The Internal Revenue Service does not permit taxpayers to deduct meals or lodging during a move. This encompasses any hotel stays en route, as well as food consumed while in transit. Even though these expenditures may seem directly related to your relocation, they do not meet qualifications for moving expense deductions according to IRS regulations.

2. Sidetracks During Your Move

If you decide on taking detours or vacationing amidst your transition period, those additional travel charges cannot be claimed within your moving expenses either. The law change affects moving expense deduction rules so only direct routes and reasonable delays like rest stops qualify under joint travel regulations.

3. Moving Expenditures Not Directly Related To Job Change Or Permanent Residence Shift

Furthermore, any incurred costs unrelated directly to job-related relocations aren’t considered deductible according to Jobs Act guidelines on payments made by employers for employee relocations.

In essence: Nondeductible expenses could raise overall out-of-pocket spending when transporting household goods across states lines or even internationally; However thorough planning can help alleviate some of these financial strains.

Time Limits

The IRS has a set period of time that taxpayers must adhere to if they want to be eligible for deductions related to relocation costs. Understanding these timelines is crucial when considering how deducting moving expenses works.

“Closely Related” Rule and its Impact on Moving Expenses

Your move should be closely related, in terms of place and time, to the start of your new job according to IRS guidelines. Generally speaking, you can consider any moving costs incurred within one year from the date you first reported at your new location as qualifying under this rule.

Work-Time Test: A Key Factor in Qualifying Moving Expenses

In addition to being closely related, there’s also a requirement known as the work-time test. This stipulates that during the initial two years post-move, full-time work of at least 39 weeks is mandatory. It doesn’t have to be continuous employment or with a single employer; it could involve several employers over those two years.

Military Personnel Exceptions: Adjustments for Permanent Change

If you’re an active duty military personnel who had a permanent change due to military orders, then different rules apply regarding these tests under joint travel regulations set by law changes affecting Jobs Act-related moving allowances provided by armed forces members are exempted from some conditions applicable civilians face.

Remember: If any of these tests aren’t met successfully, it may result in non-qualified nondeductible expenses which cannot be deducted, resulting in higher overall moving costs.

Record Keeping for Moving Expenses

To claim the deductions you qualify for, it’s crucial to keep accurate records of your moving expenses. This involves a detailed log of all costs incurred during the move.

The Necessity of Detailed Records

Detailed record keeping provides evidence should any questions arise from the Internal Revenue Service regarding deductions made on your tax return. It also streamlines filing taxes as necessary information is readily available.

Meticulous Documentation: What To Include

Your documentation needs meticulous details like dates, amounts paid, and descriptions of services provided. If payments were made towards transporting household goods or deducting travel expenses such as mileage rates according to the IRS’s standard mileage rates guide, these must be noted down meticulously in your logs.

Physical vs Digital Record Keeping

In this digital age, many opt for electronic document storage, but having physical copies can act as a useful backup too. Whichever method you choose, ensure they are well organized and easily accessible when needed.

Tips For Effective Record-Keeping Practices

  1. Categorize deductible and nondeductible moving expenses separately within logs, making them easier to identify at tax time.
  2. Note that some members’ moving expenses may not qualify due to law changes affecting regulations after Jobs Act amendments, so always stay updated with current qualifications for moving expenses.
  3. Create backups – both digital and physical if possible – ensuring easy access whenever required.

What Qualifies as Moving Expenses: A Detailed Overview

Uncover what qualifies as moving expenses. Learn about eligibility, deductible costs, and how to maximize your tax benefits from a move.

1. Understanding Deductible Value

Deductions work by reducing your taxable income. For example, let’s say transporting household goods cost $5,000, and this expense is deductible according to IRS guidelines. In such a case, it means there will be $5,000 less in your income subjected to tax during that year.

2. Adapting to Changes from The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

A key aspect of understanding moving expenses involves being aware of how recent laws have affected them. Specifically speaking about the TCJA, which has suspended most non-qualified moving expenses as personal exemptions between 2018 through 2025, except for active-duty military members undergoing a permanent change in station.

Exceptions: Military Personnel

If you’re an active-duty service member who’s relocating due to orders for a permanent change in station, then rejoice. You are still eligible under joint travel regulations for claiming relocation costs like payments made towards movers or storage facilities as part of deducting qualifying moving costs on your taxes.
Note: This information should not replace professional advice; always consult with an expert before making decisions related to financial matters or interpreting Internal Revenue Service rules.

FAQs in Relation to What Qualifies as Moving Expenses

What is classified as a moving expense?

Moving expenses can include costs for packing and shipping your belongings, travel to the new location, and storage fees during the transition.

What qualifies as moving expense reimbursement?

Reimbursement may cover eligible costs such as hiring movers, renting a truck, or purchasing packing supplies. The specifics depend on your employer’s policy or agreement.

What are the rules for moving expenses?

The IRS stipulates that you must be relocating due to work-related reasons. Additionally, there are distance and time tests that need to be met in order to qualify.

What are non-qualified moving expenses?

Non-qualified moving expenses include meals during transit, temporary housing upon arrival at the new location, or any other non-essential expenditures related to relocation.


Understanding what qualifies as moving expenses is key to maximizing your tax benefits. Beyond the move itself, associated costs are also important to consider.

  • You’ve learned that eligibility requirements play a crucial role in determining if you can deduct these expenses. Not every expense makes the cut!
  • Deductible expenses range from transportation and storage costs, while non-deductibles include meals and lodging during transit.
  • The time limits for claiming these deductions are equally important – miss them and you lose out on potential savings.
  • Meticulous record keeping is your best friend when it comes to proving these claims at tax time. Don’t underestimate its power!
  • Claiming moving expenses could mean significant tax savings – who doesn’t love saving money?

If all this seems overwhelming or too much of a hassle, don’t worry! SEKA Moving is here to help with all aspects of your move, ensuring everything runs smoothly so you can focus on settling into your new home without stress.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can make your next move easier than ever before.

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