GSA lowers mileage reimbursement rate for 2009

The General Services Administration followed the lead of the Internal Revenue Service on Thursday by lowering the mileage reimbursement rate from 58.5 cents per mile to 55 cents per mile for federal employees using their personal vehicles for government business.

The new reimbursement rate, which is used to calculate the deductible costs of operating a personal vehicle for business purposes, affects all travel from Jan. 1, 2009, until the end of the year most likely, according to a GSA announcement in the Jan. 15 Federal Register. It's unusual for GSA to make midyear rate adjustments.

The change follows a November announcement from the IRS saying the rate would decrease to 55 cents per mile on Jan. 1. The 2009 rates reflect generally higher transportation costs compared to one year ago and also factor in the recent reversal of rising gasoline prices, the IRS said.

While GSA's rate legally cannot exceed the IRS', the two rates generally mirror one another. The IRS outsources the calculation of per-mile costs of operating a privately owned vehicle. GSA also is required to conduct annual studies on the costs associated with travel and operation of privately owned vehicles. The agency is supposed to consult with the Transportation and Defense departments and federal employee organizations in determining the reimbursement rate.

Employees also may be reimbursed mileage for personal motorcycles and airplanes if they receive approval. The reimbursement rate for motorcycles in 2009 is 52 cents per mile, down from 58.5 cents per mile in 2008. Personal airplane travel can be reimbursed at $1.24 cents per mile in 2009, down from $1.26 cents per mile in 2008.

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