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The IRS wants to give you money; even they recognize that the current gas crunch is seriously pilfering of your paycheck. And I’m not even talking about stimulus checks. The IRS announced an increase in optional standard mileage rate for the final six months of 2008. This amounts to 58.5 cents per mile for all business miles driven between July 1, 2008 and December 31, 2008 . That’s an increase of 8 cents from the rate for the first six months of 2008. And while 8 cents may not seem like a whole lot now that we’re routinely paying over $4 for gas, it really does add up.

Like it or not, most of us need to fill up at the pump in order to get to work every day, whether it be to drive to the train station or all the way to work. Day after day, tank after tank, our fuel tabs keep on growing. So, what happens when you’re injured on the job and then you have even more places to drive: the hospital, your doctor’s visits, doctor’s visits scheduled by your employer, extra testing, etc.? The list goes on and on and several tanks of gas later, you’re left wondering why you’ve got to pay at the pump when you’re already in enough pain.

Well, depending on where you live and the particulars of your case, it may be worth your while to investigate mileage reimbursement. As my colleague, Mike Rom , recently noted, the answer to whether your employer will cover travel costs is typically ‘it depends.’ While Illinois employers are required to defray costs for doctor’s visits made at their request, it is questionable whether you’ll be reimbursed for your other travel-related medical expenses.

In other words, in Illinois , you should be prepared to shoulder most of the cost of being carted back-and-forth for medical treatment. It’s unfortunate, but it’s the truth. That said, if you suffer a work-related injury, or have a workers’ compensation claim, it would behoove you to speak with an attorney to make sure that you’re receiving the fair compensation that you deserve. A number of factors need to be weighed to make sure that you’re getting your rightful reimbursement.

In Iowa , on the other hand, reimbursement of medical-related travel expenses it pretty uniformly mandated. You’re injured, you require treatment, and you need a way to get there. So, your employer provides medical care and absorbs the cost of your travel for treatment. It makes good sense. And, as of July 1, 2008 , the Iowa Workers’ Compensation has adjusted the mileage reimbursement rate to match the IRS increase: 58.5 cents per mile.

So, as the numbers outside your local gas station keep rolling upward , you can find some solace in the fact that the IRS is taking note and trying to keep your hard-earned dollars in your pocket. When you’re struggling to recover from an injury at work, pain at the pump is one way you shouldn’t have to suffer.

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