Simplify your business mileage

It can be very challenging and time-consuming for a business owner to track every mile driven every day for 52 weeks a year. This requires you to list every trip you take, whether for business, commuting, or personal reasons.

Fortunately, the IRS has a much less time-consuming method for calculating business mileage. This method is for people who drive their vehicles for business and personal use.

The sampling method works well if you consistently use your vehicle for business throughout the year. It is not the best method if you have seasonal fluctuations in your business mileage during the year. It's also not the best method if your driving habits are not predictable.

The sample method is a more efficient way to determine your business mileage.

The three-month sample method allows you to use your mileage log from a three months period during the year to determine your mileage deduction for the year. You are not required to use the first three months of the year.

Another sample method option is to use one week each month. For instance, you can use the first week of every month for your sample. Any week of the month will work, but you need to use the same week of the month.

You can use whatever sample method works best for you.

Your sample period should be as representative as possible of your business travel throughout the year.

Using the sample method requires you to prove that your vehicle use is about the same amount throughout the year. Your invoices and paid bills prove the mileage part, and your appointment book can add creditability to consistent business and personal use.

You can use vehicle repair invoices to prove that mileage is steady throughout the year. Oil change receipts from the same three-month interval can also provide proof of mileage.

Another option you can provide for proof of steady mileage is if the total gas receipts are consistent each month.

Keep a mileage log during the sample period of the year which to determine the percentage of miles driven for business. You should also record your odometer reading at the beginning and end of the year.

The sample method requires you to determine the percentage of business miles driven during the sample period. You will need to subtract any abnormal mileage, such as long-distance vacations, from the total of all miles driven during the year. Then multiply the percentage of miles driven during the sample period times the total miles driven for the year, less any abnormal miles.

You can't deduct depreciation, fuel, insurance, and repair if you deduct the mileage rate. However, you can deduct the business percentage of your vehicle's interest.

If you have already created a mileage log for the year, it's a good idea to provide more information than less.

Using the sample method can save a business owner valuable time.

David Zubler is a tax accountant and Enrolled Agent in East Tennessee, providing tax strategies and representing clients before the IRS and has over 25 years of tax experience. He is the author of six tax books and has shared tax advice on national TV. He is the founder and president of Your Tax Care. The company provides business and tax education, including David’s one-minute tax tip radio recordings at David can be reached at (865) 363-3019 or contacted by email at