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IRS has announced that the optional mileage allowance for owned or leased autos (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will increase 4.5¢ from 51¢ to 55.5¢ per mile for business travel from July 1, 2011 to Dec. 31, 2011 to better reflect the real cost of operating an auto in this period of rapidly rising gas prices. This rate can also be used by employers to reimburse tax-free under an accountable plan employees who supply their own autos for business use, and to value personal use of certain low-cost employer-provided vehicles. The rate for using a car to get medical care or in connection with a move that qualifies for the moving expense will also increase 4.5¢ for the last half of 2011 from 19¢ to 23.5¢ per mile.

The increase reflects an apparent reversal of thinking at IRS. As late as last month, during a conference call to the payroll industry, an IRS spokesperson said IRS had no current plans to boost the mileage rate