I'm sure this is a dumb question..mileage

I just started mystery shopping a few months ago and haven't kept track of mileage. Going forward I will and I can see the benefit on mileage tax deduction (and might be able to go back figure out mileage for shops) but HOW important is calculating mileage??

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2019 08:25PM by 4muppets.

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Not a dumb question, especially since it can prevent making a dumb mistake. Keeping a record of mileage for the entire year is essential. No record; no tax deduction. Just get a little notebook that will fit in a drink cup holder, for instance. Enter mileage at the start of the year and again at the end of the year. Then, for every MS trip, enter destination, start and stop mileage. That mileage allowance will shelter a TON of MS income from taxation !!!

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Here is a url for free mileage log templates:
[templatelab.com]
I just download one and make a copy as needed and keep in my car.
Very important. Each mile reduces taxable income by more than 50 cents. When i first started i needed to figure my mileage too for the first few months. I used google maps to fill in the blanks for mileage on those shop. But now I update my records daily using the tripometer on my car.
I usually take my total mileage off each year but, I think this year I will take off the actual car expense. I can't take off both. I think with the price of gas last year here vs. the mileage I put in, it will be a higher deduction if I take off the car expense instead. I also had expenses such as painting, etc.

I keep a record of the total mileage of each shop and then total my mileage at the ending of each day. At the end of the year, I am able to figure out my total personal miles and my total business miles for tax purposes.

Shopping Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.
Ark, be sure to check out the details of what you can and cannot take in terms of total expenses. It may not be the best way to go for most vehicles and drivers. And, as I recall, you cannot use depreciation one year if you have previously used the mileage allowance. At least, not for the same vehicle. But be sure to read the IRS brochure on this very carefully.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Thanks, wales. Thank you for your advice and concern. It means a lot. I have a degree in personal and business taxes as well as accounting. I thought taxes and accounting was what I would do all of my life and even had a business for years doing it. I was actually an enrolled agent with the IRS. But, somewhere down the road, life changed and I ended up with a different career. But, I still try to keep up with all the changes and the way things work year-to-year. It's not like practicing and doing taxes and accounting for a living though. It's hard to keep up with when you get out of it. I just bought a new car (with cash) this year so it hasn't been placed in service yet. I also donated my old car this year that I used. There are other expenses I can take off as well. I will be weighing my pros and cons and reading pamphlets as well, so I do make the right decision.

Shopping Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.
Since you do not have a loan for the vehicle, there will be no partial write-off for interest. (You probably know this, but others may be learning something from our discussion, so please bear with me.) And, if it is very fuel efficient and new, you should have relatively low repair bills and possibly, much to gain by using the mileage write off. So, you will be busy working the numbers, I am sure. Fortunately, by tax time in 2020 we will have a much better understanding of the new tax laws than if you were filing 2018 taxes using that vehicle.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
You must be talking about section 179 when you are talking about the partial write-off? I have to have the car title in my company's name and it must be placed in service by December 31. I have done either. Talking about the fuel efficient, I also had my older car I donated. It got good mileage but, not like I would have liked. I added up my mileage for last year on both cars and I think it's going to be a toss up. When I get into doing my taxes, I will see which one will help me the most.

Shopping Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.
Did you mean to say "neither" ?
Everything I wrote assumed that you place this vehicle in service in 2019. Why title the vehicle in a company name if you are operating as a sole prop? Just curious? (Self-employed for over 50 years and always as sole prop and doing own taxes; no audits or even questions from IRS. Learned to do taxes at my mother's knee, literally.)

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Mileage is a huge expense that is deductible. It is not too late to keep track. Start a spread sheet. You should always keep receipts and information about shops. You can Google the mileage. I am a tax preparer. The key is good records. You would be surprised how the mileage can add up. It is perfectly legal.
I keep either an excel or Google sheets for each company and then I calculate the mileage from home to each shop and then home again,
Each company has it's own sheet. and then I print it out and give to the CPA.
Excuse my mistake. Yes, neither.

50 years? What all have you done? Did your mom do taxes as a business? You are pretty smart on a lot of subjects. I am impressed with your posts.

I am not a sole prop.


@walesmaven wrote:

Did you mean to say "neither" ?
Everything I wrote assumed that you place this vehicle in service in 2019. Why title the vehicle in a company name if you are operating as a sole prop? Just curious? (Self-employed for over 50 years and always as sole prop and doing own taxes; no audits or even questions from IRS. Learned to do taxes at my mother's knee, literally.)

Shopping Arkansas, Louisiana, & Mississippi.
I keep track of mileage in the Excel spreadsheet that I use to track shop dates, locations, fees, and reimbursements. I use Google Maps to calculate distances. There are times when I thin the distances are either slightly too short or too long, but on average, they seem correct. If the IRS were to dispute a distance, they would need to use Google Maps or some other online mapping program.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I found a free App called Everlance. It tracks your trips easily. Just have to remember to use it and click to end each trip.

I was using a spreadsheet previously.

I note the odometer on January 1, and December 31.

I use my personal car, the tax form asks for starting and ending miles, and miles used for the business.

FREE Job listing sites; [www.msjobboard.com]; [www.mystshopsol.com]; [www.jobslinger.com] - Sassie; [www.volition.com] - Various links; [www.mspa-na.org] -MSPA Members; link at bottom of forum page to their extensive list of companies
One thing that I have found out is that the IRS does not like abbreviations in the addresses or the name of the companies. They came back and denied my mileage deductions for 2014.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2019 11:11PM by 2stepps.
This is exactly what I do to keep myself organized. To ask again - you calculate the mileage to AND from the job, correct?
You track mileage from your home to the job, then to the next job, if any, etc., and then to home again. Just write down the beginning odometer reading, the job locations and the end reading.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Do you have to send this mileage log in with your taxes, or do you just need it in case you get audited? Thanks.
@2stepps wrote:

One thing that I have found out is that the IRS does not like abbreviations in the addresses or the name of the companies. They came back and denied my mileage deductions for 2014.
Huh?

______________________________________________________________________
Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
You keep the log against some future point in time when you might need it (such as an audit). There is no practical way to send the log in with your taxes. Schedule C asks for total mileage for the tax year and total business miles for the tax year. For the total miles, I think that you can either provide the odometer readings on January 1st and December 31st, or enter the difference. I personally record the odometer readings in the same spreadsheet that I track shops, mileage, payments, expenses, etc.
@Niner wrote:

Do you have to send this mileage log in with your taxes, or do you just need it in case you get audited? Thanks.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
I have a question for you all. Curiosity. I find the mapping websites to short me all the time when driving in LA. Some trips are quite short but driving around to find parking or even sometimes in those 8 story parking garages going up and up and up and later reversing direction to get out can eat up a half mile. Then there are the frequent times one must get out of traffic or beyond a construction zone and take a longer detour to save time. And the no right turn streets that can go on for a quarter mile or more and then another quarter mile to get back. Once I was not allowed to turn left into traffic like the map site told me to get to a nearby freeway entrance. The "block" I had to go around was an additional mile. I just record my mileage on the trip computer on my car which is invariably more than a google map might tell me and as I usually know the way it saves time too. Will this be an issue if I ever get audited?
The IRS requires a contemporaneous record of miles driven. that has been true for decades, long before MapQuest of Waze or Google Maps. If you keep a log book in your car or record your odometer reading everyday before and after your MS trips, you will have IMHO met the IRS requirements. I personally choose to use the mileage provided by Google Maps, knowing that it is sometimes low. To compensate for parking lots, garages, detours, etc., I round each trip up to the next full mile. IMHO, what you are doing closely matches what the IRS requires for a contemporaneous record.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
ProTip: A few years ago I bought a device called "Automatic" that plugs into the OBD port in my car. IT tracks all of my driving and sends it all to my phone. When I go to enter my day's work into my log, I just open up my phone and it tells me how many miles I drove that day. If I forget one day, I can just look back in the app and it keep track of it without me having to do anything. $100 well spent.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
I want to get one of those but just haven't gotten around to it.

I personally take a photo of my odometer at the start of a trip and again at the end. All the photos are copied over to a OneDrive folder and the odometer readings are entered into my spreadsheet.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@Hoju wrote:

ProTip: A few years ago I bought a device called "Automatic" that plugs into the OBD port in my car. IT tracks all of my driving and sends it all to my phone. When I go to enter my day's work into my log, I just open up my phone and it tells me how many miles I drove that day. If I forget one day, I can just look back in the app and it keep track of it without me having to do anything. $100 well spent.
Where else does it send it? I'd read the TOS very carefully.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
@iShop123 wrote:

@Hoju wrote:

ProTip: A few years ago I bought a device called "Automatic" that plugs into the OBD port in my car. IT tracks all of my driving and sends it all to my phone. When I go to enter my day's work into my log, I just open up my phone and it tells me how many miles I drove that day. If I forget one day, I can just look back in the app and it keep track of it without me having to do anything. $100 well spent.
Where else does it send it? I'd read the TOS very carefully.

I don't particularly care. I'm just not that paranoid.

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Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.
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