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.
What mileage is deductible?
You can deduct the mileage you put on a personal vehicle for business purposes. This applies to 1099 workers: self-employed, small business owners and freelancers.
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 do I keep track of my mileage for tax purposes?
According to the IRS, your mileage log must include a record of:
- Your mileage
- The dates of your business trips
- 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. W2 workers can no longer deduct mileage on their taxes.
How to track 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.
What’s the difference between a 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.
How to keep track of gas mileage for taxes?
If you plan to use the actual expense method to lower your taxes, you can deduct the actual cost of gasoline. You will have to keep diligent track of all your expenses though, including receipts.
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.
How do you keep a mileage log for taxes?
The IRS requires records but it doesn’t dictate how you keep them. You can keep a manual mileage log, a spreadsheet or a mileage tracking app like MileIQ.
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MileIQ’s blog does not constitute professional tax advice. You should contact your own tax professional to discuss your situation.