Saturday, May 5, 2007

How to Keep a Record of Business Miles

Regardless of which method -- actual or standard -- you use to calculate auto expense you will need to know the total business miles for the year.

Easy how-to for recording business mileage.
Let’s start on New Year's Eve! A little assignment before you head out to the party: Get the mileage reading on your car from the odometer and write it in your calendar.

Next assignment: on the following New Year's Eve, once again before you go out (because you'll never remember in the morning) write that mileage reading in your calendar.

Completing those two assignments gives you a beginning and ending mileage reading for the year so you know how many miles you put on your car for the year. Now let’s see what you do between parties.

As long as accuracy is your goal, the method used is unimportant. Choose the routine that suits you and your business.
Patti Party Planner, who runs all over the state checking party and convention sites and prices of supplies, and listening to bands, will have a very different method of calculating business mileage than will Rob Rolf who rarely needs to leave his massage studio. Let’s look at the different ways that they, and Lily Legal, figure out business miles.

*** Rob Rolf uses his car for business only once a month to buy supplies all he has to do is to check the mileage from studio to supply house and back and multiply it by 12 and he’s got his total business miles for the year.

*** Lily Legal goes to the court house twice a week. She has an occasional trip to a client’s office. Like Rob Rolf she does the multiplication thing to figure her court house appearances -- two trips times 48 weeks (she takes off four weeks a year to go to Aruba). And she uses her appointment calendar to determine which clients she met with at their offices. Around early December she has her clerk figure the miles from her office to each client. He writes the mileage in her appointment book and tallies them up. He adds that to her court appearance mileage for total business use mileage.

*** Patti Party Planner spends much of her day in what she calls her “business” car. She was distraught at the cumbersome way her former tax preparer told her to calculate business miles. Sammy Segar told her to write down the odometer reading every morning – 79,814.5 – and then at the end of the day write down the new reading – 80,013.6 – and then subtract. 199.1 miles. What a bother! By day’s end she was so tired that she often made mistakes in arithmetic. Patti has another car -- bigger, with a childseat, devoid of the clutter of her business car. She uses that one for just about all family errands. Patti came up with a much easier way of calculating business miles. She does her New Year’s Eve notations in the calendar. But then instead of writing down all her business miles she just notes in her calendar the few occasions she uses the business car for personal errands. She deducts her personal miles from her total miles to come up with a business use figure.

As you can see from the above examples, there is no set way to keep a mileage record. Use a method that suits you.

Want to learn more about auto expense and mileage recordkeeping? Take a look at these on my website
Two Ways to Calculate Auto Expense and the expanded How to Keep a Record of Business Mileage .

No comments: