Monday, September 29, 2008

Keep track of your business mileage

It is extremely important to keep track of your business mileage (incurred on your personal vehicle) in the form of a mileage log. Even if that is a 99 cent mini spiral notebook, you should be recording mileage info. for every business associated drive. Yes, even to the post office to buy stamps to mail out your bills! This also includes charitable mileage, medical mileage and moving expenses incurred, but some of these have different rates at which to compute the deductible amount for taxes. In this post, we will be discussing business type miles only.

You are allowed to deduct expenses that are incurred to make the income. You should always be thinking, "How will I prove this expense if I needed to at the end of the year?" Staying organized and keeping track of your miles will make things alot easier on you come tax preparation time. You can just leave that little notebook right in your car for convenience.

If your business records vehicle expenses for gasoline, repairs and such, you would not need to also record mileage. The mileage rates are intended to cover those costs on a per mile basis. It's either actual expenses OR mileage reporting.

Individuals who receive a W-2 from their employer, who use their own vehicles in their line of work also qualify to deduct this expense in certain circumstances*. If your employer does not reimburse you or only partially reimburses you, you may be entitled to claim it on your taxes filing Federal Form 2106. Here are some instructions and a flow chart if you'd like to see if you would qualify to file this form.

The mileage rate for the tax year 2007 was $0.485
The mileage rate for the tax year 2008 from Jan. 1-Jun.30 was $0.505
The mileage rate for the tax year 2008 from Jul. 1-Dec. 31 is $0.585

As you can see, the tax year 2008 has 2 distinct time periods with different rates. It will be important for you to have a mileage log showing the number of miles accumulated for each separate rated time period. Your tax preparer will need this information in the form of a total of miles for each time period. In the event of an audit, your IRS agent will want proof in the form of a mileage log for all year, otherwise they will most likely add back some or all of the deduction from form 2106.

When recording your mileage log, be sure to include the date, beginning mileage, ending mileage, total miles for the trip and a brief notation about the nature of the trip couldn't hurt either. For example:
8/29/08 61,558-61,601=43 P/U Parts
For more information on mileage rates and requirements, see the website.

*See your tax professional for more details.

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