Why To Track Mileage

track business miles to maximize auto expenses

If you use your car for your business your CPA has probably told you to track your mileage. The reason is that there are two way to calculate the auto related costs for your car- actual expenses and standard mileage rate- and both rely on knowing the number of business miles you drove for the year. The great thing here is the IRS lets you chose the method that leads to a greater deduction.

 

Actual Expenses

You can keep track of and deduct the costs for actual auto expenses. These expenses would include gas, oil, repairs, tires, insurance, registration fees, licenses, and lease payments. If you use your car for anything personal your deduction is reduced. The way to calculate your business use is to track your business and total miles for the year. For example, if you drove 10,000 for business and 15,000 total, your business use percent would be 10,000 / 15,000 = 66.67% and you would only be allowed to deduct 66.67% of all of your auto expenses.

 

Standard Mileage Rate

For 2014 the standard mileage rate for business is 56 cents per mile. To determine your auto expenses using the standard mileage rate you multiply the rate times the number of business miles driven. For example if you drove 10,000 miles for the year your auto expense deduction would be 0.56 x 10,000 = $5,600.

 

Have trouble keeping track of your driving? There are aps you can use to make it easier. Check out Triplog that tracks your rides using GPS.

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Tweet it! Track biz miles to maximize auto expense deductions. Use aps to make record keeping easier. http://bit.ly/1nS5F5A @BetteHochberger

How to Deduct Your Vacation

plan carefully to make your vacation tax deductible

It is almost summer and many people will be thinking about traveling. If you plan it right you might even be able to deduct a good part of your trip.

Travel Primarily For Business

The IRS says that travel primarily for business is fully deductible. If you take a trip that is primarily for business and while you are there you extend your stay for a vacation or take a personal side trip you can still deduct the business related travel expenses. Personal trips are not deductible, but you can deduct any expenses while at your destination that directly relate to your business.

How do you figure out if a trip is primarily business or pleasure? Generally this is determined by the amount of time you spend on business vs. personal activities. If more time is spent on business activities your trip is primarily for business purposes.

Travel Expenses

There are a multitude of expenses that qualify as travel expenses. Transportation, hotel/lodging costs, car expenses (gas, oil, repairs, etc.), taxis, tips, and telecommunication fees are all examples of deductible expenses. Meals and entertainment expenses, however, are subject to a 50% limitation.

Keep in mind that if your spouse or children travel with you, only your portion of the travel expenses are deductible. Even if other family members occasionally assist you in business, unless their presence is necessary for you to conduct business, their travel will not be deductible.

Tweet it! Plan carefully to make part of your vacation tax deductible if the trip is primarily for business. bit.ly/1o3K8KR @BetteHochberger 

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Taking Moving Expenses as Tax Deductions

With the economy as it is these days people might find themselves moving to find work.  It is possible for these expenses to be tax deductible.  Here is a guide as to how.

A Case of Two Tests

There are two tests that determine if your moving expenses are deductible- distance and time.

  1. The distance test – your new work must be at least 50 miles father from your old home than your old job was from your old home; OR if you have no previous workplace or have been out of work or working part-time for a substantial amount of time your new job must be at least 50 miles from your old home.
  2. The time test – Employees must work full-time for at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months immediately following your relocation.  You do not need to work for the same employer for all 39 weeks and the weeks do not need to be in a row.  Self-employed people must work full time at least 39 weeks during the first 12 months and a total of at least 78 weeks during the first 24 months immediate following your relocation.

You also need to make sure that your move is within 1 year from the date you first report to work for the new job.  So if you move to a new area hoping to find work, hope you find it before 1 year passes!

Are We There Yet?

Haven’t met the time test by the time you need to file your return?  You can still take the deduction for the tax year in which you moved if you think you will satisfy the time test during the following tax year.   If you don’t take the moving deduction for the tax year in which you moved and meet the time test during the following tax year, you can go back an amend your tax return to take the deduction.  You must take the deduction on the tax return of the same year in which you moved.

What if you take the deduction for the tax year in which you move but then don’t end up meeting the time test?  You have two options.  Either take the amount of the deduction as “other income” the following tax year or amend the tax return on which you claimed the deduction to remove it.

What Moving Expenses Can Be Deducted?

You can deduction the cost of moving your household goods and personal effects and travel including lodging.  Some expenses might include:

  • Costs of connecting or disconnecting utilities.
  • Cost of shipping your car and pets.
  • Costs to store and insure your stuff within any period of 30 consecutive days after the day your things are moved from your former home and before they reach your new home.

There are many items that CANNOT be deducted, including the costs of meals while moving.  You also CANNOT take a deduction for any expense that was reimbursed by your employer.

Forms

Moving expenses are deducted by filing Form 3903.  You can find a copy of the form here. The deductible expenses are reported on Form 1040 (line 26 on 2011) and a copy of Form 3903 is filed with your return.