How to Claim a Mileage Tax Deduction & 2021 IRS Rules

MileIQ Team

You can use the mileage tax deduction to offset the cost of using a personal vehicle for business reasons. The standard mileage tax rate changes each year. That means the mileage tax deduction 2021 rate is different from previous years. It includes factors like gasoline prices, wear-and-tear and more. For example, in 2019, you could claim 58 cents per business mile on your annual return.

There's no limit to the amount of mileage you can claim on your taxes. Even self-employed individuals can make a mileage claim. But, be sure to follow the rules and have a compliant mileage log.

For 2019, the standard mileage tax rates were:

  • 58 cents per mile for business (was 54.5 cents in 2018)
  • 20 cents per mile for medical (was 18 cents in 2018)
  • 14 cents per mile for charity (no change)

What are the standard mileage tax deduction rates for 2019, 2018 and prior years?

2019: $0.58
2018: $0.545
2017: $0.535
2016: $0.54
2015: $0.575
2014: $0.56
2013: $0.56
2012: $0.555
2011: $0.51

The standard mileage tax deduction rate is set by the IRS every year and this is the deductible rate for your drives.

How to calculate mileage for taxes

You can claim mileage on your tax return if you keep diligent track of your drives throughout the year. In 2019, you could write off 58 cents for every business mile.

How to deduct mileage on taxes? You have two options for deducting your vehicle expenses: the standard mileage rate or the actual expense method.

With the standard mileage rate, you take the deduction of a specified number of cents for every business mile you drive. Multiply your business miles by that year's standard mileage rate for your deduction

Example: Ed, an independent salesperson, drove his car 20,000 miles for business during 2019. To determine his mileage deduction, he should:

  • Gather the total number of business miles for the year
  • Multiply that by the standard mileage rate for 2019
  • Come to a mileage deduction of $10,900 for the year (58 cents √ó 20,000 = $11,600)

What does the IRS consider as business drives and what mileage can I deduct?

With writing off mileage on taxes, the IRS only lets you deduct trips that are for business purposes. Here are the drives the IRS considers to be business:

  • You can take the mileage deduction write-off for travel from your office or work site to the second place of business
  • Driving for business-related errands qualifies as a business drive. This can include going to the bank, office supply store or post office. These small trips add up quickly, and many business owners forget to keep track of these drives
  • Business meals and entertainment
    Trips you make to meet with clients or vendors qualify for this deduction. This can include drives for dinner, coffee, drinks, etc
  • The miles you drive to and from the airport for a business trip qualify for mileage deduction
  • Drives to and from odd job locations can be written off. These can include side-gigs like babysitting services, pet care, lawn work and more
  • Driving from your office or another work site to meet with customers or clients for business qualifies
  • Temporary job sites
    Driving from home to a temporary work location that you expect to last (and does, in fact, last) less than one year

Can you deduct mileage to and from work?

A similar question is, “How much mileage can I claim for my commute?” Generally, you cannot deduct mileage to and from work. The IRS mileage deduction rules define the first trip from your house and the last drive back as a non-deductible commute. This is true even if your commute is far. The IRS considers where you live a personal choice and, thus, a personal expense.

Working during a commuting trip is still considered commuting. This includes making business calls, listening to work-related tapes or having business discussions.

Download MileIQ to start tracking your drives

Automatic, accurate mileage reports.

How to get around the IRS commuting rule with a home office

One way to avoid the harsh commuting rule is to have a qualifying home office. With this, you can take a mileage deduction for any trips you make from your home office to another business location. Make sure you're following the rules about a home office, though.

How to claim mileage on taxes

Here’s how to write off mileage on taxes. If you're using the standard mileage rate, first calculate the value of your deduction. You can also add your business parking costs and toll expenses. You'll also need to tally up your total commute miles and personal (non-commute) miles for the year.

When you're filling out your Schedule C form, you can input your mileage deduction on Line 9. Put your mileage totals on Part IV, Line 44.

The IRS will also want to know your starting odometer reading, your commuting miles and your personal, non-commuting miles. If you're a W2 employee, there are scenarios where you can still write off business miles. You can learn more about that in this article about mileage reimbursements.

Mileage reimbursement versus mileage deduction

It's important to note the difference between mileage reimbursement and mileage deduction. A reimbursement is when an employer or client pays you a specific rate for the miles you drive. Mileage deduction is when you take a write-off for the miles driven on your annual tax return.

The IRS doesn't require employers or clients to reimburse you for mileage. Many offer it as part of their benefits to maintain and attract workers, but there's no mandated state or federal mileage rate for non-governmental employees.

How many miles can you claim on your taxes?

There is no limit to the miles you can claim when you file your taxes; you can claim as many miles as you can substantiate. With that said, some claims raise a red flag with the IRS, including:

  • Having a round number like 25,000 miles
  • Claiming 100 percent of your miles for business
  • Claiming an unusually high number of miles

Can I claim tolls to work on my taxes?

Yes, you can deduct business-related parking and toll costs on your taxes. Just make sure you keep current and compliant records.

Can you claim car insurance and other vehicle expenses on taxes?

The standard mileage rate includes a lot of the costs related to your vehicle, but it doesn't cover all expenses. If you use the standard mileage rate, you can deduct the following vehicle-related expenses:

  • Interest on a car loan
  • Parking fees and tolls for business
  • Personal property tax you paid when you bought the vehicle, based on its value

How to track mileage for taxes

The huge advantage of the standard mileage rate is that it requires less record keeping. You do need to keep track of:

  • How many miles you drive for business
  • The total miles you drive

Yet, keeping an accurate mileage log can be tedious. The IRS requires those logs to be reasonably detailed. You can also use a mileage tracking app like MileIQ to make the process easy and ensure you're in compliance.

Restrictions on the standard mileage rate deduction

There are some important restrictions on who can use the standard mileage rate. If you don't qualify to use it, you must use the more complicated actual expense method.

You must use the standard mileage rate the first year you use a car for business. If you fail to do so, you are forever stuck using that method for that car. You can switch between the modes but only if you use the standard mileage rate the first year.

It's a good idea to use the standard mileage rate the first year you use the car for business.

If you choose the standard mileage rate method, you cannot deduct actual car operating expenses. All of these items, as well as depreciation, are factored into the standard mileage rate set by the IRS.

However, you can deduct interest paid on a car loan, as well as parking fees and tolls for business trips. You can't deduct parking ticket fines or the cost of parking your car at your place of work.

Download MileIQ to start tracking your drives

Automatic, accurate mileage reports.

How have you been tracking your miles?

Start tracking drives automatically with MileIQ!
Get Started