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Business Use of Vehicles

As a business owner or self-employed individual, you may be using your own personal vehicle to conduct business. The costs for operating a vehicle for business use are deductible, but are you getting the most out of your deductions? There are two methods that you can use to determine your deduction. The first is the Standard Mileage Rate and the other is Actual Expenses. Both of these have pros and cons and it is worth taking the time to figure out which is most beneficial to you.

Standard Mileage Rate: The IRS has set the 2018 mileage rate at 54.5 cents per mile. This rate is adjusted yearly for inflation. In order to claim this deduction, you must keep accurate, detailed, and timely records showing your business travel. Whether you record your mileage in a written log or use one of the many apps available, the following information should be included: miles driven, date of travel, the place traveled to, and the business purpose of your trip.

One of the advantages of the standard mileage rate is that it is simple. When setting the rate, the IRS also takes into consideration insurance costs and the other expenses of maintaining a vehicle. So, as long as you keep accurate log information, there is no need to save receipts or figure out what percentage of the car use is business. You record your business miles, multiply that by the rate, and take the result as your deduction. In addition, you can also deduct tolls and parking fees. If you have a lot of business mileage, this may be the option for you.

Actual Expense Method: With this method, you are able to deduct actual car expenses. These expenses may include the following:

  • Depreciation

  • Lease payments

  • License and registration fees

  • Gas and oil

  • Insurance

  • Garage rent

  • Parking fees

  • RepairsTolls

If you are using this method, you must keep all your receipts and determine the percentage of time that the car is being used for business purposes to calculate your deduction.

There are some vehicle related expenses that aren’t deductible using either method. These include:

  • Any personal use.

  • Miles spent commuting from your home to the office.

  • Using your vehicle for advertising. Having a company sign on your vehicle doesn’t make it eligible to deduct all the miles driven.

  • Fines or penalties for moving violations or parking tickets.

Consulting with your accountant can help you determine the best method for you and your business.

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