Do you regularly do donuts in abandoned parking lots to relieve the tension of work-related driving (or dream about it)? Make sure you're wearing your seatbelt while you do that. And unfortunately the repairs to your wheels and steering are probably not going to be a covered business expense. But there might some other legit expenses you can take.
When it comes to claiming auto expenses for business use of your car, we've got two methods to choose from: the standard mileage rate or actual expenses.
Standard mileage is the rate the government sets for operating a vehicle and it has a bunch of stuff built in, like maintenance, gas, etc. And generally it often provides the best result. Plus you can take a few expenses on top, like:
- parking fees
- interest on loans
- personal property tax
The other option is to lay out your actual expenses, i.e. all the money you spent on the car in a given year (then we take the percentage that was for business). NOTE: In most cases, this method will actually result in less of a business expense than the standard mileage rate, so if you're not sure, go with standard mileage and we can talk more in your appointment.
If you use the actual expense method you can include things like:
- maintenance and repairs
- tire and oil changes
- registration fees
- rental or lease payments
- vehicle loan interest
- garage rent
- plus the ones mentioned earlier
And if you drive for a ridesharing company like Uber or Lyft, you may be eligible to claim additional operating expenses like (regardless of which of the above methods you use):
- cell phone plans, chargers, dashboard mounts
- in-car food and drink items for passengers
- hand sanitizer and partitions
- first aid kits
- third party apps to track mileage
- tools for car maintenance (tire pump, jumper cables)
- roadside assistance
The most important thing to remember with auto expenses is that in order to know if you're eligible for the expense, you've got to track your mileage and keep good records for your additional expenses.
Determining which method is the most advantageous for you, and understanding which expenses are allowable given your line of work are not always straightforward. Ask your tax preparer or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the best advice for your situation!