When you’re traveling for anything related to your business, it literally turns your miles into money. Trips to meetings, traveling to business events, or even trips to pick up or drop off packages can all be included in your mileage. The trick is to make sure that you are recording nothing but your business mileage, as any traveling for personal reasons does not count towards your taxes.
(Side Note: The IRS is extremely picky about mileage for business purposes. Say you’re leaving a business venue, travel 20 miles, then take a mile trip out of your way so you can go to the grocery store on the way home. All you can count is the 20 miles in the first part of the journey since this was the only part of your trip that was “business-related”. Same goes for traveling between home and work, so long as that workplace is consistent, such as a brick-and-mortar building. That is considered a daily commute and does not count towards business mileage.)
Tracking mileage is an easily overlooked way to save money on your taxes. Some businesses rely on paper trails, which can get messy when you do a lot of traveling throughout the year. Luckily, technology has caught up pretty quickly, and just as the old saying goes:
There’s an app for that.
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Actually, there are several apps for mileage tracking. The first one we’ll be looking at is MileIQ, an app designed specifically for iPhones. This app automatically runs in the background and automatically tracks your driving mileage. Several features allow for you to classify certain drives as personal or as business, making it easier to keep your mileage separated from non-business use. In addition to tracking your mileage, the miles you drive are recorded in the same manner as it would in a log book. The app will place your business mileage under the date of travel, but over time the mileage is accumulated into a monthly total. MileIQ takes that monthly breakdown to present you with a log each month that shows the number of drives, amount of miles, and even the potential amount of your tax deduction at the end of the year. MileIQ boasts that its users save around $7,124 per year, making this a great cost-saving app as well. The app itself is free for up to 40 drives each month, but their unlimited plan costs $5.99 a month or $59.99 a year. The major benefit to the Unlimited plan is a complete record of all drives you perform with the MileIQ app.
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Triplog is a mileage tracking app that offers many of the same features as the previous app. You can track your mileage and see what the potential tax deduction would be, making it very business-friendly. However, it does have some options that differentiate it from other mileage tracking apps.
One of these options is the availability of tracking choices. There are 6 ways that you can track your mileage, making it a bit easier to control. For instance, you can turn on their MagicTrip feature, which runs in the background much like MileIQ, or you can opt for a manual start, where the user must click a button to start the tracker.
You can also view your full day’s worth of trips in one log, making it easier to categorize your drives. Common locations can also be named in their app, simplifying the categorization even more. Triplog also offers you the chance to actually see your drives in an image, as well as in a text-based overview. Triplog is a free app and is available on both Apple and Android phones.
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This Android app is free to use and also tracks mileage in the background while you drive. The data is categorized for business use, and also shows you your potential deductions. Where it differs is its usefulness in providing you with extra functions. For instance, you can keep track of receipts with its handy receipt scanner. Not only are you tracking your mileage, but any expenses at all. Those expenses are also matched and categorized automatically, saving you the trouble of all that upkeep. You can also use this app to create and send invoices from it, and payment options and bank transfer services can be used through it as well. The in-app invoice generator tracks when invoices are sent, paid, and deposited, making this app useful for business owners on the go.
If you’re a business owner, having one of these apps on your phone or having it installed on your employees’ phones can save you a lot of headaches. Don’t worry anymore with manual-entry travel log books – use an app instead and make tax time easier than ever!