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After all, if you stop to see a movie on the way back from the dentist, you can still deduct the miles to and from his office, right?

In that example, I would imagine that only the additional miles between the dentist and movies are deductible. Home - dentist is 10 miles, home - movies are 6 miles, and therefor only the 4 miles between the movies and dentist would be deductible. You could easily spend more time at the movies than at the dentist.

I thought the reason for the trip was important.

So if you went to go to the movies and made a dentist appointment for the same day so you could make one trip then only the additonal miles would be deductable. The primary purpose of the trip was the movie.

My dentist is 30 miles away. If I make a dentist appointment I try and also do all my other 'big city' stuff at the same time, but since my main reason for going is the dentist the mileage to the dentist and back is deductable...not the 'other stuff' mileage tho' The primary purpose of the trip was the dentist.

That is my understanding anyway.

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