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Representatives ask IRS for mid-year hike of standard mileage rates

Tired of waiting for the Internal Revenues Service to act on its own with regard to the standard mileage deduction rates, a dozen Representatives this week sent the tax agency chief a letter.

Old gas pumps (2) Led by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), the bipartisan group wants IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman to reevaluate the mileage rates taxpayers can use to calculate certain deductible costs of operating an automobile. The reason for this request is the same as what prompted the IRS to make mid-year changes three years ago, rising gas prices.

Joining Sensenbrenner in signing the letter were Brian P. Bilbray (R-Calif.); Dan Burton (R-Ind.); Tim Griffin (R-Ark.); Nan Hayworth (R-Wisc.); Walter B. Jones (R-N.Y.); Larry Kissell (D-N.C.); David Loebsack (D-Iowa); Ron Paul (R-Texas); Chellie Pingree (D-Maine); Bill Posey (R-Fla.); and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.).

The lawmakers point out that the current rate of 51 cents per mile for business travel was set at the end of last year.  Gas prices since then have risen sharply so that rate, they argue, "is probably not an accurate gauge of the cost of operating an automobile."

Unfortunately for the Representatives, the price of a barrel of crude oil just dropped below $100 a barrel and pump prices have eased a bit. But given that the summer driving season is set to begin at the end of May, gasoline prices probably will bounce back up again.

If the per-gallon cost does rebound, we'll see if that and the Congressional request are enough to get the IRS to make mileage rate adjustments.

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