You can write off up to 53.5 cents for every tax-deductible mile you drive -- but you'll need documentation. These mobile apps make it easy.
Do you ever drive a car for business, medical or charitable purposes? Have you moved in the past year? If so, you might be eligible for valuable tax deductions.
The Internal Revenue Service allows you to deduct a certain amount for every eligible mile you drive. So if you qualify for and claim these mileage deductions, you’ll keep more of your money out of Uncle Sam’s pocket.
For example, for tax year 2017, the IRS’ standard mileage rates for deductible driving expenses are:
- 53.5 cents per mile driven for business
- 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
You can learn more about these write-offs in “Tax Hacks 2017: Don’t Miss These 16 Often-Overlooked Tax Breaks.”
Of course, the IRS won’t take you at your word. If you want to write off eligible mileage, you must log eligible miles.
In the past, that meant tedious manual record-keeping of your odometer readings and driving purposes. Technology has since simplified — if not practically automated — this process.
Mobile apps like the four detailed below handle much of the record-keeping for you. That means you can claim applicable mileage deductions with minimal effort.
This type of app can be costly. However, all of the following apps offer a free version or are bundled free with software programs you might already have. Additionally, they are all available for both Android and Apple iOS.
Cost: MileIQ is a free download that offers 40 drives a month. You can upgrade the app for unlimited drives, which costs $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year.
Details: Both the free and paid versions of MileIQ include automatic mileage tracking, meaning the app automatically detects when you’re driving and automatically tracks your miles every time you drive. When you finish a drive, you just swipe your phone screen to categorize the trip as personal, business, medical, charity or a customized category.
MileIQ has ratings of more than four out of five stars in both Google Play and Apple’s App Store based on reviews from users.
2. QuickBooks Self-Employed
Cost: QuickBooks Self-Employed, which comes with both web access and a mobile app, offers a free 30-day trial. After that, you must pay for a monthly subscription. The retail price is $10 a month, although the subscription was available for $5 a month for the first six months at the time this article was written.
Details: QuickBooks Self-Employed, a business accounting program designed for folks who file a Schedule C form with their federal income taxes, now features automatic mileage tracking. So if you already subscribe to QuickBooks Self-Employed, you might want to check out this tracking feature before looking into others, as it won’t cost you anything further.
Also, check out this tracking feature if you use TurboTax Self-Employed to file your taxes. TurboTax Self-Employed filers get QuickBooks Self-Employed at no additional cost. (Both software programs are made by the same company, Intuit.)
Because this tracker is automatic, all trips are logged automatically. “Users simply need to swipe to see the deductions they’ve earned,” as Intuit describes it.
The QuickBooks Self-Employed app has ratings of at least four out of five stars in both Google Play and the App Store based on reviews from users.
3. Quicken’s Vehicle Mileage Tracker
Cost: Quicken’s mobile app is free. But to be able to access Quicken’s Vehicle Mileage Tracker, you need one of two software programs. Each program has a retail price of more than $100, although Quicken was selling both at a discount when this story was written.
Details: Quicken Home & Business and Quicken Rental Property Manager come with the Vehicle Mileage Tracker feature. So if you already use either money management software program, you might want to check out this tracker before others, as it won’t cost you anything further.
The Vehicle Mileage Tracker enables you to track, sort and print lists of mileage for business, charity and medical purposes. You can also track miles driven to and from rental properties you own and other types of mileage that you define.
Cost: There are four versions of TripLog, each with a different price:
- Free (for one user): Free
- Basic (for one user): $1.50 monthly or $15 annually
- Professional (for one user): $3 monthly or $30 annually
- Enterprise (for an unlimited number of users): $5 per user monthly or $50 per user annually
Details: All versions of the app feature:
- GPS mileage tracking or manual input
- Actual driving route on Google Maps
- Vehicle fuel economy and expenses tracking
TripLog also offers fully and semi-automatic mileage tracking, although these features are only available with the three paid versions of the app.
To learn more about the differences between the four versions, visit TripLog’s “Pricing” page.
To learn about other types of apps that can help you at tax time, check out “Tax Hacks 2017: The Best Apps to Get Your Taxes to the Finish Line.”
Have you ever used an app to track mileage for any purpose? Tell us what you thought of it below or on our Facebook page.