What Is Mileage Deduction? Write Off Miles On Taxes

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What Is Mileage Deduction? Write Off Miles On Taxes

If you use your personal car or other vehicles for business purposes, you can take a mileage deduction of 53.5 cents for every mile you drive for work in 2017. Here is everything you need to know in order to get the most out of your business mileage write off.

What Is The Mileage Deduction?

The mileage deduction is a tax write-off you can take to offset the cost of using your personal vehicle for business reasons. You can claim 53.5 cents per business mile in 2017 on your annual return. There’s no limit to the amount of mileage you can claim on taxes but be sure to follow the rules and have a compliant mileage log.

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Can I Claim Mileage On My Tax Return

You sure can but only if you’re keeping diligent track of your drives for the year. As mentioned, you can write off 53.5 cents for every business mile in 2017. If you’re using the standard mileage rate, you can enter your deduction on Line 9 of the Schedule C.

Can You Deduct Mileage To and From Work?

Generally, no. The IRS defines the first trip from your house and the last trip back as your non-deductible commute. This is true even if your commute is really, really far. The IRS considers where you live a personal choice and, thus, a personal expense.

The mileage deduction is geared for your business drives.

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What Drives Are Business Drives?

With the mileage deduction, the IRS only lets you deduct trips that are for business. The natural question is: what types of trips are considered business drives? Here are the drives that are considered business by the IRS:

Travel between offices
You can take this deduction for travel from your office or work site and you drive to a second place of business.
mileage-101-icons-02-errands Errands/supplies

Driving for business-related errands qualifies. This can include trips like going to the bank, office supply store or post office. Additionally, these small trips add up quickly. Many business owners forget to keep track of these drives.

mileage-101-icons-03-meals Business meals and entertainment
Trips you make to meet with clients or vendors qualify for this deduction. This can include drives for dinner, coffee, drinks, etc.
mileage-101-icons-04-Travel Airport/travel
The miles you drive to and from the airport for a business trip.
mileage-101-icons-05-oddjobs Odd jobs
Drives to and from odd job locations can be written off. These can include side-gigs like babysitting, pet care, lawn work or more.
mileage-101-icons-06-customervisit Customer visits

Driving from your office or other work sites to meet with customers or clients for business qualifies.

mileage-101-icons-07-tempsite Temporary job sites
Driving from home to a temporary work location that you expect to last (and does, in fact, last) less than one year.
mileage-101-icons-08-jobseek Job seeking
If you’re looking for work, you may deduct the drives to find a new job in your current occupation. Yet, you cannot take this deduction if you’re looking for a job in a new industry for the first time.

IRS Mileage Reimbursement Rules: Mileage Reimbursement vs. Mileage Deduction:

It’s important to note the difference between a mileage reimbursement and a mileage deduction. A reimbursement is when an employer or client pays you a certain rate for the miles you drive. The deduction is when you take a write-off for the miles you drove on your annual tax return.

The IRS doesn’t require employers or clients to reimburse you for mileage. Many do in order to maintain and attract workers but there’s no mandated federal mileage rate for non-governmental employees. The IRS does offer a mileage rate for the deduction and in 2017, that equals 53.5 cents per business mile.

Business Mileage Does Not Include Commuting

There are some strict rules on what makes up deductible business driving. The one that most people get in trouble with is commuting. Commuting occurs when you go from home to a permanent work location—either your:

  • Office or other principal place of business
  • Another place where you have worked or expect to work for more than one year.

Even if a trip from home to your office has a specific business purpose, it is still considered commuting. It is not eligible for a mileage deductible if you start out from your home.

Working during a commuting trip is still considered commuting. This includes making business calls, listening to work-related tapes or having business discussions.

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Get Around the IRS Commuting Rule With A Home Office

One way to avoid the harsh commuting rule is to have a home office that qualifies as your principal place of business. In this event, you can take a mileage deduction for any trips you make from your home office to another business location.

Your home office will qualify as your principal place of business if it is the place where you earn most of your income or perform the administrative or management tasks for your practice.

Avoiding the Commuting Rule If You Go to a Temporary Work Location

You can avoid the commuting rule and still have your drives qualify for a mileage deduction if you travel between your home and a temporary work location. A temporary work location is any place where you realistically expect to work less than one year. It can be inside or outside of the metropolitan area where you live.

Yet, if the location is inside your metropolitan area, this exception applies only where you have an outside office or other regular work location away from your home.

What is the Standard Mileage Rate for 2017, 2016 and Prior Years?

The standard mileage rate is set by the IRS every year and this is the deductible rate for your drives.

For 2017, the standard mileage rates are:

    • 53.5 cents per mile for business, down from 54 cents in 2016
    • 17 cents per mile for medical/moving, down from 19 cents in 2016
    • 14 cents per mile for charity, the same as in 2016

The standard mileage rate changes over time and includes a variety of factors like gasoline prices, wear-and-tear and more. Here’s how it has changed over time:

YearRate per MileDates Covered
201753.5 cents1/01/17 - 12/31/17
201654 cents1/01/16 - 12/31/16
201557.5 cents1/01/15 - 12/31/15
201456 cents1/01/14 - 12/31/14
201356 cents1/01/13 - 12/31/13
201255.5 cents1/01/12 - 12/31/12
201155.5 cents7/01/11 - 12/31/11
201151 cents1/01/11 - 6/30/11
201050 cents1/01/10 - 12/31/10

How Many Miles Can You Claim On Your Taxes?

You can claim as many miles as you can substantiate. There is no limit to what you can write off. With that said, claiming an unusually-high of miles will be a red flag for the IRS.

That’s why it’s vital to have proper documentation of your mileage. Another couple of tips for how much you can claim on your taxes

  • Having a round number like 25,000 miles can be a red flag
  • Claiming 100 percent of your miles for business is also seen as suspect.

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Can You Claim Both Mileage And Gasoline?

No. You can’t deduct both your gasoline and mileage on taxes. You can use two methods to deduct your business use of a personal vehicle: the actual expense method or the standard mileage rate.

If you deduct your gas expenses with the actual expense method, you can’t deduct your mileage. The inverse is also the same. No matter which method you use, you can always write off the cost of paying for business parking.

How Do You To Calculate Mileage for Taxes?

You have two options for deducting your vehicle expenses: You can use the standard mileage rate or you can deduct your actual expenses. The standard mileage rate is by far the easiest to use.

With the standard mileage rate, you take the deduction of a specified number of cents for every business mile you drive. The IRS sets the standard mileage rate each year. The 2017 Mileage Rate is 53.5 cents per mile.

To figure out your mileage deduction, simply multiply your business miles by the standard mileage rate for the specific year.

Example: Ed, a salesperson, drove his car 20,000 miles for business during 2017. To determine his mileage deduction, he simply multiplies his business miles by the applicable standard mileage rate (53.5 cents per mile in 2017). This gives him a total mileage deduction for the year of $10,700 (53.5 cents × 20,000 = $10,700).

Can You Claim Car Insurance on Taxes? What About Other Costs?

The standard mileage rate includes a lot of the costs of your vehicle. But, it doesn’t include all expenses related to your vehicle.

If you use the standard mileage rate, you can still deduct a few other vehicle-related expenses. These include:

  • Interest on a car loan
  • Parking fees and tolls for business
  • Personal property tax you paid when you bought the vehicle, based on its value.

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How To Track Mileage for Taxes

The big advantage of the standard mileage rate is that it requires less record keeping. You do need to keep track of how many miles you drive for business and the total miles you drive, but you don’t need to record actual expenses for your car, such as gas, maintenance, and repairs.

Yet, keeping an accurate mileage log can be tedious, and the IRS requires those logs to be fairly detailed. To save yourself time and headache, be sure to review mileage logs the IRS didn’t accept and don’t make the same mistake. You can also use a mileage tracking app like MileIQ to make the process easy and ensure you’re in compliance.

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Claiming Business Mileage on Taxes

To claim your business mileage for work on taxes, you’ll need to provide an itemized deduction. For self-employed workers, you’re going to claim your mileage on IRS Form Schedule C.

Along with the value of your work miles, the IRS will also want to know your starting odometer reading, your commuting miles and your personal, non-commuting miles. If you’re a W2 employee, there are scenarios where you can still write off business miles. You can learn more about that on this article about mileage reimbursements.

Restrictions On The Standard Mileage Rate

If you choose the standard mileage rate, you cannot deduct actual car operating expenses. All of these items, as well as depreciation, are factored into the standard mileage rate set by the IRS.

Yet, you can deduct the interest you pay on a car loan, as well as parking fees and tolls for business trips . But, you can’t deduct parking ticket fines or the cost of parking your car at your place of work.

There are some important restrictions on who can use the standard mileage rate. If you don’t qualify to use it, you must use the more complicated actual expense method.

You must use the standard mileage rate the first year you use a car for business. If you fail to do so, you are forever stuck using that method for that car.

If you use the standard mileage rate the first year, you can switch to the actual expense method in a later year, and then switch back and forth between the two methods after that, subject to certain restrictions.

For this reason, if you’re not sure which method you want to use for, it’s a good idea to use the standard mileage rate the first year you use the car for business.

Download MileIQ to start tracking your miles »

MileIQ

MileIQ

MileIQ is a smart mileage tracking app for iOS and Android that catches your drives automatically, calculates their value, then lets you easily classify them as business or personal when you’re ready.

MileIQ captures and logs your drives automatically while you focus on your business.
MileIQ

MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.