The IRS has made it very easy for self-employed individuals or employees who use vehicles for business purposes to get mileage deductions from the taxes for all those expenses that they haven’t been reimbursed for. Among the items that the IRS will allow for mileage deductions include business trips travel for charitable causes and medical purposes and moving houses Below is a step by step guide on how you can go about claiming your mileage deduction. 1. Use GOFAR to Log Your Mileage GOFAR is a mileage tracking and logging app that has been used by thousands of drivers to log mileage in preparation for claiming mileage deduction. The app uses a device that connects to the engine and finds your engine’s sweet spot to help you drive efficiently and reduce wear and tear. It also reminds you when you need to take your car for maintenance or pay for insurance. The device that connects to the engine will detect faults in your car and explain them to you in a language that you can understand. The app connects you with parts suppliers and top-rated mechanics in your area. You will need some documents to substantiate your mileage claims, in this regard, the app helps you to digitise and automate your mileage log book. 2. Understand and Choose the Mileage Deduction Method There are two methods that you can use to deduct your mileage. The first one is called the actual expense method. In this method, you will need to collect all your car operation expenses and properly record them so that you can deduct them against your tax. Note that you will need to have enough documentation to substantiate your claims. The second method is called the standard mileage rate. The IRS computes this after it has considered the operating cost of running a car in a particular year. The rate changes every year as the economic conditions improve or deteriorate. Before you decide the method to use, you need to understand the rules surrounding each method. As a best practice, if you have the cost of running a car for business purposes is pretty high, you need to use the actual expense method because it will allow you to claim all the expenses that have been incurred when running the car. On the other hand, if your cost of running a car is not high, you are more likely to get a higher deduction by using the standard mileage rate method. Visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov to get the latest standard mileage rate applicable in a particular year. 3. Add the Mileage for Business If you have been using a mileage tracking app, you will not need to do the arithmetic to come up with the figure to claim against your taxes. However, if you have been maintaining a manual log, you will need to add up the mileage from the first day that you used the car for business purposes. This is tedious work and hence the reason we advise that you use a mileage app that automates your mileage log book. 4. Compute Your Moving Mileage As indicated earlier in this article, one of the things that the IRS will allow you to deduct against your taxes is your moving mileage. However, before you compute the moving mileage, you must make sure that it has made the prescribed qualification and distance. For example, the IRS states that the distance between your former home and your new job must not be less than 50 miles, so your moving mileage needs to be considered for a tax deduction. Example: If you previously commuted for just eight miles to your place of work, your new location should be at least 58 miles from your old home for you to be able to claim moving mileage. 5. Compute Your Medical Mileage Another allowed deduction is mileage covered for medical purposes. Note that the allowed deduction is the distance covered from your home to a hospital or a medical care centre. Any other expense that you incur during the trip should be computed separately. 6. Compute Your Charity-related Mileage If you have volunteered for charity work, or you have driven to a charity fundraiser, or you have incurred any driving expense for charity purposes, you can compute all these mileage as an allowable deduction. 7. Verify that All Your Miles Qualify for Mileage Deduction Before you complete the mileage deduction forms from the IRS, ensure that all the miles that you have computed are qualified for deduction. Some of the miles that you will need to include in your deductions include; The mileage from your office to a worksite Mileage from your office to the second place of work Mileage covered for business related errands except for the first trip of the day to the office and the last trip of the day back home Trips to meet clients Trips to the airport The drive from home when looking for a job in the same industry as you have been engaged in within the last one year Mileage expenses incurred for charity purposes Mileage expenses incurred for medical purposes Mileage expenses incurred for moving purposes The best way to understand if your mileage claims are qualified is to visit the IRS website to see what you can deduct. Image from frlickr by Philip Taylor 8. File the Returns You will need to fill the total mileage covered for the whole year on line 13 of form 2106 to file the returns. Note that the figure you fill on this line is the total dollar amount of the deductible mileage as calculated using the standard mileage rate. If you decide to use the actual expense method, you will need to have the receipts of all the expenses including repairs, oil purchases, fuel purchases, insurance payments, depression, and car rental payments. These act as sufficient evidence to substantiate your mileage claims. 9. Keep the Documentation Safely As a rule, the IRS advises taxpayers to keep the documents that prove the mileage claims for three years from the first day that they file the tax returns. This is because the IRS might request for the documentation to substantiate your mileage deduction. You are expected to have a copy of all the records that you sent to the tax authorities on filing your tax returns. Filing documents becomes easy if you have a mileage application because all you need to do is to back up the digital copy of your mileage.