What Are The IRS Mileage Log Requirements?

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What Are The IRS Mileage Log Requirements?

Your mileage log and mileage logs can lead to significant savings through the mileage deduction. But, what does the IRS require in your documentation? See how your mileage log books can help you avoid an audit.

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What Mileage Is Deductible?

You can deduct the mileage you put on a personal vehicle for business purposes. This mostly applies to 1099 workers but W2 employees may also be eligible.

Your business drives include trips to meet clients, pick up supplies, drives between offices and more. Importantly, you can’t deduct your commute. We’ve put together a list of what the IRS considers business drives.

How To Keep Track of Mileage for Taxes?

According to the IRS, your mileage log must include a record of:

  • Your mileage
  • The dates of your business trips
  • The places you drove for business
  • The business purposes for your trips.

The IRS also wants to know the total number of miles you drove during the year for business, commuting, and personal driving other than commuting.

By far the best way to prove to the IRS how much you drove for business is to keep contemporaneous records. “Contemporaneous” means your records are created each day you drive for business, or soon thereafter.

A mileage tracker app like MileIQ may be one of the easiest ways to provide what the IRS wants. It automatically tracks, logs and calculates your mileage for each trip. It can also provide a mileage log that can stand up to IRS scrutiny.

Can I Claim Mileage On My Tax Return?

It depends. As mentioned, self-employed workers can always deduct mileage on their taxes. If you’re a W2 worker, you can deduct it if your total itemized deduction exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.

How Do You Record Mileage For Taxes?

You need a record of your drives. People call this a mileage log, mileage logbook or something similar. Whatever you name it, it must provide documentation of the deduction you’re trying to make.

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Gasoline Log vs. Log for Mileage

Sometimes, people will combine their gasoline log and their mileage log. You may want to do this for a variety of reasons: tracking your monthly spending or figuring out your real fuel efficiency and how that relates to your costs. If you plan to take the mileage deduction, you don’t have to keep a gas logbook.

What Does The IRS Accept for Mileage Logs?

There are often questions about what the IRS will accept when it comes to proof of mileage. The documentation can often have many names: mileage log, mileage log book, mileage sheets or mileage books. Whatever you call it, know the IRS will accept digital versions, as long as it has the information covered previous section.

We advise maintaining digital mileage sheets because you may have to keep this up to five years after you file a deduction. A physical mileage book can easily get lost or damaged, which may cause trouble down the road.

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How Do I Calculate My Deduction?

If you’re using the standard mileage rate for your deduction, it’s simple. Multiply the amount of business miles you drove by the rate to come up with your mileage deduction.

For example, if you drove 19,225 business miles, you’d multiply that by 53.5 cents (the 2017 rate). Your deduction would be $10,285.38 (19.225 x .535 = 10285.38).

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Stephen Fishman

Stephen Fishman

Stephen Fishman is a self-employed tax expert and regular contributor to MileIQ. He has dedicated his career as an attorney and author to writing useful, authoritative and recognized guides on taxes and business law for entrepreneurs, independent contractors, freelancers and other self-employed people. He is the author of over 20 books and hundreds of articles, and has been quoted in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, and many other publications. Visit Fishman Law and Tax Files for more information on his work.
Stephen Fishman

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