How do you keep up with your mileage log?

Discussion in 'Business Operations' started by ATL Lawn, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. ATL Lawn

    ATL Lawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 318

    How do you guys keep up with your mileage for tax reasons?

    Do you write how many miles each truck went every day, week or month?

  2. grass_cuttin_fool

    grass_cuttin_fool LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,526

    I have a program in excel that you fill in the blanks and it tracks the mileage for you

  3. rob7233

    rob7233 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 876

    Go down to your local Staples/Office Depot/ Office Max and get your self a Mileage Log book to record your business miles. Keep it in your truck door pocket or some other convenient place. Make sure you buy one that's not too small to write anything down in since the documentation DOES help at tax time.
  4. macaw

    macaw LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 416

    I use my pda with windows mobile excel I do this every day and plug in the pda to my main computer and it dose the rest.
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Your wording is a little concerning. Because when you say, "each truck" it seems like you're talking about multiple trucks. And the IRS is very clear; if you own operate more than one vehicle in your business, you are not allowed the "standard mileage" deduction. You MUST use the "Actual Expenses" method of deduction.

    For those of you who just have one work truck then a mileage log is all you need to maintain. But for the rest of us who are running multiple trucks, you are not allowed to take advantage of the mileage deduction.

    Trust me. I know from personal experience. The year 2003 was the first year I found this out. And since then I've been saving every receipt and using the "Actual Expenses" method of deduction. But in 2002, I had used the "standard mileage" deduction for several trucks. After I found out about the rule, I was hoping I'd never be audited and it would all just blow over. But as luck would have it we were audited in 2005, and the only thing on the entire audit that the government found, was this. So then they go back and remove that deduction. Then you have to pay the tax you would have paid had you not taken the deduction, plus 3 years interest. Yah...lots of fun. For me, the fun ended up costing us just over $10,000. Not a fun mistake to make.

    Learn from me and don't make the same costly mistake.

    Incidentally, that was also the last year I did my own taxes. And had I known what I know now, hiring a killer CPA would have been my first move in business. My CPA has saved me more money than I could ever pay him. You guys who are trying to get financial advice here on lawnsite and trying to figure it out all on your own are foolish. Trust me, you'll never find all of the great deductions that a good CPA will find you. Just pony up the extra dough and start getting sound financial advice from the experts.

    For more on the topic of mileage deductions, read this article;
  6. Tharrell

    Tharrell LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,967

    Here's a blank calendar that I use. I just fill in the dates and draw a line across it from one date to the other to put my morning mileage in.
    I have an aluminum clipboard with a flipout section that I keep it in, invoices are in the back section. The clipboard goes everywhere with me.
    Oh yeah, I used too work for Ecolab.

    calendar3 resized.jpg
  7. Tvov

    Tvov LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CT
    Messages: 1,157

    I very much agree with this. ESPECIALLY if you have employees. For me, the cost of a CPA is easily recovered from the deductions. Also, the CPA fees can be kept surprisingly low if you both use the same accounting system (ANY CPA should have and know how to use QuickBooks). My accountant has pointed out things would raise the dreaded "red flags" at the IRS. Also, by simply emailing information from my QuickBooks program, I haven't visited the office in probably over 5 years.

    Keeping receipts shouldn't even have to be mentioned. Whenever I buy anything business related, I get and keep a receipt. If nothing else, one way to do this is to pay by check for everything, so you have the canceled checks for your records.
  8. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 21,653

    In virginia, every vehicle is required to have an annual state inspection. On the little slip of paper that goes in the glovebox, the mechanic that conducts the inspection writes down the mileage - voila, might not be to the exact date, but it's miles / year, I just take the mileage off that piece of paper.
  9. mojob

    mojob LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 515

    Am I correct in assuming that if you use your truck only for business and use actual expenses instead of the standard mileage deduction, you don't have to keep a log?
  10. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Yes, that is correct. You only need keep a log if you are using the standard mileage deduction method. And even then, it doesn't need to be nearly as detailed of a log as Tharrell showed. Something simple like Topsites said works just fine. You basically just need a beginning of the year mileage and end of the year mileage.

    Whenever you get work done on your truck at any mechanic or oil change place, they will usually record your mileage anyway. And that just serves to further substantiate what you are recording on your own at the beginning and ending of the year.

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