Providing home health care services requires travel to get to clients. A health care provider supporting a single patient in an urban area may have no need to consider travel costs, while a rural provider may spend a significant amount of time in her car. The reimbursement policies for health care agencies vary widely, so know agency policy and how much driving you can expect before accepting a job.
The Internal Revenue Service publishes optional standard mileage rates annually. For 2014, this amount is 54.5 cents per mile for business driving. A health care agency is not obligated to pay this amount, though you may be entitled to declare reimbursement as income and deduct vehicle expenses using the IRS mileage rate. When your agency requires receipts for gas and other vehicle expenses and requires you to return any excess reimbursement, your reimbursement is described as an accountable plan and you neither declare reimbursement as income, nor claim vehicle expenses.
According to the Department of Labor, travel that is part of your day's work is time that must be paid, so a health care agency must pay wages on top of any mileage reimbursement if you are driving as part of your health care support, or between clients within your workday. For example, if you drive your client to a doctor's appointment during your work hours, this is considered part of your duties by the Department of Labor and you should be paid for your time in the car.
To and From Home
As a general rule, commuting from home to your place of work is not considered for reimbursement or deduction by the IRS, and it is unlikely your home care agency will pay for this time or mileage. There are, however, exceptions when serving a client who is outside your metropolitan area, particularly if your service with the client is likely to last less than a year. Once again, the agency is not obligated to pay for time and mileage, but you may be eligible to deduct this mileage on your income tax return.
Mileage and Time Logs
Regardless of your agency's policies on reimbursement, keeping detailed records of work use of your personal vehicle is required by the IRS to support deduction claims. Complete tracking of mileage, time and vehicle expenses such as parking and maintenance may be useful in cases of dispute resolution or analyzing the cost of operating your vehicle. Consider IRS standards for recordkeeping as your minimum requirement for reporting of mileage and retention of receipts or other documents related to vehicle costs.
A full-time content creation freelancer for over 12 years, Scott Shpak is a writer, photographer and musician, with a past career in business with Kodak.