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Mileage Log for Taxes - Requirements and Process Explained

Stephen Fishman
Tax expert and contributor MileIQ

A mileage log for taxes can lead to large savings but what does the IRS require from your records? Follow these best practices to avoid an audit. ✓ Learn more!

What are the IRS mileage log requirements?

Your mileage log and mileage logs can lead to significant savings through the mileage deduction or as a business expense. In 2022, the mileage rate was 58.5 cents per mile for January through June, and increased to 62.5 cents per mile after July 1.

According to MileIQ, the leading automatic mileage tracking app, an average MileIQ Unlimited user deducts gets reimbursed $7,696 per year.  But, what does the IRS require in your documentation? And how can you make it easier to track your mileage for a business expense? See how your mileage log books can help you.

What is a mileage log?

A mileage log is a spreadsheet or logbook that holds records of the number of miles that you have traveled in your vehicle for business purposes only over a period of time. With a mileage log, you can use it to claim a tax deduction or reimbursement from your employer.

What mileage is deductible?

You can deduct the mileage you put on a personal vehicle for business purposes (or, you might get an expense from your business). This applies to 1099 workers: self-employed, small business owners and freelancers. But, you need to keep a full and accurate mileage log of all of your drives in order to claim the deduction. Your employer might also want you to track your mileage for business expenses.

Your business drives include trips to meet company clients, pick up supplies, drives between work offices and more. For example, if you are a real estate agent, all of those house-hunting drives can really add up. Logging the miles driven can be beneficial come tax time. Importantly, you can't deduct your commute to or from the office. We've put together a list of what the IRS considers business drives.

How do I keep track of my mileage for tax purposes?

According to the IRS, your mileage log must include a record of:

  • Your mileage
  • The dates of your business trips
  • Places you drove for business
  • The business purposes for your trips

The IRS also wants to know the total miles you drove during the year for business, commuting, and personal driving other than commuting.

By far the best way to prove to the IRS how much you drove for business is to keep contemporaneous records. "Contemporaneous" means your records are created each day you drive for business, or soon thereafter, so you can correctly calculate the miles tracked on your the odometer of your car. 

A mileage tracker app like MileIQ may be one of the easiest ways to provide what the IRS wants. It automatically tracks, logs and calculates your mileage for each trip. It can also provide a mileage data log on a mileage tracker template that can stand up to IRS scrutiny.

Download MileIQ to start tracking your drives

Automatic, accurate mileage reports.

Can I claim mileage on my tax return?

It depends. As mentioned, self-employed workers can always deduct mileage on their taxes. W2 workers can no longer deduct mileage on their taxes.

How to track mileage for taxes?

You need a record of your drives. People call this a mileage log, mileage logbook or something similar. Whatever you name it, it must provide documentation of the deduction you're trying to make.

What's the difference between a gasoline log vs. log for mileage?

Sometimes, people will combine their gasoline log and their vehicle mileage log in their deductions. You may want to do this for a variety of reasons: tracking your monthly spending or figuring out your real fuel efficiency and how that relates to your costs. If you plan to take the mileage deduction, you don't have to keep a gas logbook.

How to keep track of gas mileage for taxes?

If you plan to use the actual expense method to lower your taxes, you can deduct the actual cost of gasoline. You will have to keep diligent track of all your expenses, though, including receipts.

What does the IRS accept for mileage logs?

There are often questions about what the IRS will accept when it comes to proof of mileage. The documentation can often have many names: mileage log, mileage log book, mileage form, mileage tracker form, mileage sheets or mileage books. Whatever you call it, know the IRS will accept digital versions, as long as it has the information covered in the previous section.

We advise maintaining digital mileage sheets because you may have to save these for up to five years after you file a deduction. A physical mileage book can easily get lost or damaged, which may cause trouble down the road.

How do you keep a mileage log for taxes?

The IRS requires records but it doesn't dictate how you keep them. There is no specific IRS mileage log template. Thus you can keep a simple mileage log using a standard business mileage log template, a spreadsheet such as an Excel mileage log template, or a mileage tracking app like MileIQ.

What are the benefits of keeping a mileage log?

Tracking mileage might not seem like a big deal, especially if you work from home or have a home office, or somewhere close to your workplace. But if you travel for business, a mileage log can really help you save money on your know that the miles can really add up. And this is where having a mileage log becomes valuable.

It’s important to note that it's best to maintain a separate log for business miles versus personal miles. This will prevent confusion and make it easier for you when tax season rolls around.

There are three primary benefits of keeping a car mileage log with MileIQ.

  1. Improve financial records: Gone are the days of using pen and paper to track miles. This old-fashioned method simply doesn’t adequately track miles covered, and let’s face it—a notebook can easily be lost. When you track miles via an app like MileIQ, you can access your log anytime, anywhere. And, you never have to worry about losing your data.

  2. Increase productivity: An app like MileIQ makes the process of logging miles easy, so you are free to focus on growing your business. Lessen the amount of time spent logging miles manually by letting MileIQ do it for you.

  3. Avoid an audit: The IRS takes reimbursement of business expenses very seriously. As a result, they require information many people fail to include in their handwritten mileage logs. This can result in the IRS not accepting your business mileage deduction or they may audit you as deductions of this type are notoriously incorrect. However, if you keep detailed records of your mileage, the IRS will have irrefutable proof of your accumulated miles in a single tax year.

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Automatic, accurate mileage reports.

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