In today’s world, even with the growing popularity of telecommuting and teleconferencing, there are times when you need to travel for business. In order to deduct your travel expenses on your tax return, you need to keep adequate records. There are many strategies to track your business mileage.

The IRS allows a deduction of either the actual business related costs or a standard mileage rate. Either way, you need to maintain accurate mileage records. Sounds cumbersome, right? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

A simple yet effective mileage recording method is to use an inexpensive small wire-bound notepad. They can be found at many retail outlets for around $1. You’ll just want to make sure it is large enough to record the following information:

  • Date
  • Destination (City, Town, or Area)
  • Business Purpose
  • Beginning Odometer Reading
  • Ending Odometer Reading
  • Miles This Trip

Many office supply stores sell Auto Mileage Log and Expense Record books. They usually run around $8 each, and have pre-printed pages with space for recording mileage and maintenance/repair expenses.

Of course, like everything these days, if you have a smart phone, there is “an app for that”. The ones I looked at ranged in price, from free for very basic tracking to around $12. Some of the better ones calculate your business mileage and download the totals to an Excel report you can email to your accountant (and your accountant will love you for it – trust me). Like any other mobile application, be sure to read the user reviews before downloading. This can save a lot of time and frustration down the road.

One caveat – commuting miles (the miles driven from your home to your normal place of business and back) are not considered business miles. However, trips from your normal place of business to pick up office supplies, visit a client, or between normal places of business are business related.

Happy (business-related) Motoring!