I own a rental property about 3 hours drive from where my main residence is. Can I deduct the mileage traveling to and from the rental property? are there limits on how many of these trips a year I can deduct? Do they have to be for specific problems or can I also cite general maintenance/check up as the reason for the trip?
The technical answer is yes, you can deduct the mileage to travel to and from your rental property if you are going to collect rent or to "conserve, maintain or manage" the property. You need to keep a log with the date and miles travelled as well as the purpose. This is a tough sell if you are paying a property manager. I would suggest you find an Enrolled Agent or Certified Public Accountant to look at your particular situation.
I come across this question often as part of the tax preparation side of my practice.
You may deduct the actual expenses or the prevailing mileage rate. The standard mileage rate can be used to replace the actual cost of depreciation, loan or lease payments, maintenance and repairs, fuel, oil, insurance and registration fees. Parking fees and tolls may still be deducted separately.
To use the specific mileage method, you would have to be sure that you have not used a Section 179 expense (writing off the car cost in year of purchase in lieu of depreciation) or used any other depreciation method.
So, generally, you may consider your trips to and from the property as a deductible expense. You should keep a log of some sort and consult with a tax professional about specific questions for your case. IRS Publication 463 is another good resource.