Mileage Reimbursement Rates, Rules & Tips

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Mileage Reimbursement Rates, Rules & Tips

A mileage reimbursement program can be critical to your business’ success. Make sure you know the rules and best practices. This article walks you through mileage reimbursement best practices for employers and employees.

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IRS Mileage Reimbursement

The mileage deduction is about the miles people can deduct on an itemized tax returns at the end of the year. Each year, the IRS sets the rate each mile driven for work is worth. The 2017 standard mileage rate set by the IRS is 53.5 cents per mile for business drives. You can see how someone who drives a lot for work can earn a pretty hefty deduction.

Employees can expense miles they drive through a mileage reimbursement. Companies reimburse these people for these miles. Employees can’t take a tax deduction on their miles.

Employees can take a partial deduction if their reimbursement is lower than the standard rate. They can claim the difference between your mileage reimbursement and the IRS rate.

What Are The Federal Mileage Reimbursement Laws?

We’ll dive into the specifics below. Some key takeaways:

  • There’s no federal rule forcing private businesses to reimburse mileage
    • There are labor laws that may force a mileage reimbursement
    • States like California and Massachusetts do require reimbursements
  • Using the standard mileage rate is an easy way to set a rate
  • Here are the differences between a car allowance vs. reimbursement
  • If employees receive a tax-free mileage reimbursement, they can’t claim a mileage deduction
  • If it’s not an accountable plan, the mileage reimbursement can count as taxable wages

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Is An Employer Required to Reimbursement for Mileage?

There is no required mileage reimbursement rate companies have to pay. That’s right, the IRS hasn’t set any official mileage reimbursement rules.

Yet, states like California and Massachusetts do have a mileage reimbursement rate rule. Also, many businesses decide to peg this rate at the standard mileage rate. But, they don’t have to.

If your employees don’t get this rate, they may still be eligible for a deduction. This would be the partial mileage deduction.

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What Is Included In Mileage Reimbursement?

Typically, a mileage reimbursement covers the costs of operating a vehicle for business purposes. This bakes in the costs of expenses like gasoline, wear-and-tear and more. Companies have their own policies regarding other vehicle-related expenses like tolls and parking.

Can I Get A Mileage Reimbursement?

Except for in certain states, your employer is not required to provide you a mileage reimbursement. But, your business may want to in order to attract and retain talent. It never hurts to ask.

Is Mileage Reimbursement Taxable Income?

If you offer a mileage reimbursement, that may impact an employee’s taxable income. The tax impact varies depending on if it’s what’s known as an accountable plan. An accountable plan is an expense allowance of reimbursement that follows these requirements:

  • Has a business connection
  • Requires substantiation
  • The employee returns excess amounts in a reasonable time.

If you have an accountable plan, your employees likely won’t have to pay income taxes on it.

IRS Gas Mileage Reimbursement Rate

There is no standard reimbursement rate, as companies can set their own rate. Some companies will even offer various ways to “pay for” employee mileage. This can include providing work cars or offering a gas allowance. This can also include a reimbursement for company mileage. As mentioned above, many companies peg the reimbursement rate to the rate set by the IRS.

Example of Partial Mileage Reimbursement

Nancy is a pizza delivery driver for Pepperoni Pete’s Pizza Pies. Nancy gets a reimbursement of 35.5 cents for every mile she drives delivering pizza. The difference between the reimbursement and the IRS rate is 18.5 cents per mile.

If Nancy drives 10,000 miles in 2016, she’ll receive a reimbursement of $3,550. She can also take a tax deduction of $1,850 on her taxes. She can only do this if she’s remembered to track her mileage.

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Reimbursement Expense Reports: How to Calculate Mileage Reimbursement

Most employees have to submit some sort of mileage log if they want to get money for company mileage. This is often included in their expense report.

The specificity of the mileage log may vary by company, though. Some organizations may only need employees to submit mileage for each work trip. Other companies, especially publicly-traded ones, need stringent record keeping. This may include the reason for the trip, client names and even the make and model of the vehicle.

If you plan to take this reimbursement, you should have detailed mileage logs. If you don’t keep detailed records, your expense report may get rejected. Even worse, your employer could even take disciplinary actions if it suspects fraudulent claims.

Mileage Reimbursement Programs & Policies Best Practices

A robust mileage reimbursement program relies on automatic mileage tracking and includes standardized, digital reporting. This helps you:

  • Save Money: Up to 34.5 percent of employees admit to inflating their mileage for reimbursements, according to a Chrome River. This contributes to the $2.8 billion per year in overall expense fraud, Chrome River found.
  • Boost Productivity: Employees spend up to 4 hours a month manually logging and reporting their miles, according to MileIQ data. That’s time and effort that could
  • Be Compliant: A standardized mileage reimbursement program ensures you’re complying with all applicable laws. This minimizes your chances of lawsuits. It also gives you steady records that can stand up to scrutiny.

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What To Look For In Mileage Tracking For Employees

The best businesses are leaning on technology for their mileage reimbursement programs. It’s a mistake to rely on a manual reporting process. A manual process:

  • Wastes Time: Employees have to manually log every business drive. Payroll has to verify these miles, often relying on hand-written notes. That’s time they could spend on more valuable activities.
  • Wastes Money: Employees will sometimes add mileage to their expenses reports. Your business can use this extra money in other productive ways.
  • Lacks Compliance: You open your business up to lawsuits and audits without proper business records.

An ideal mileage reimbursement solution includes automatic mileage tracking and standardized, digital reporting. This will help save you time, money and promote compliance. Best of all, it will be easy to implement and use, so your employees will actually use it.

MileIQ for Teams puts it all together. It provides a simple mileage tracking tool that employees love with the standardization and security businesses require. It saves time, money and promotes compliance.

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Joshua Brost

Joshua Brost

Joshua Brost handles the content and communication at MileIQ. When he's not busy talking to reporters and bloggers, he can usually be found plotting how he's going to survive the zombie apocalypse, cooking something fancy or cursing at a new gadget that's not working the way he intended.
Joshua Brost

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