The IRS allows us a deduction for the business use of our car. The deduction is based on either a published Standard Mileage Rate or the actual expenses incurred to operate the vehicle. Since many times the vehicle is used for both business and off hours personal use, the IRS wants us to maintain a log of the business miles driven to either apply the business miles driven to the Standard Mileage Rate or to allocate the total expenses incurred to operate the vehicle between business and non business use.
The question always arises: which method is better? It all depends on many factors such as do you own or lease, is it an expensive vehicle to operate with gas, oil and maintenance, and do you drive substantially more business miles per year that personal, substantially less or about the same?
The first step it to try and keep track of the data needed to make the determination. That is where I start to hear the moaning and groaning. In an effort to help alleviate some of that moaning and groaning I did a quick Google search to see what is available for free before you run out and buy a mileage log that you probably won’t use because it makes you do all the math.
Excel and PDF files from SampleWords.com: Track odometer readings, miles, purpose, total miles. Can set up a tab for each month. Pros: simple, straightforward, color coded columns, does the math. Cons: no area for expenses. http://www.samplewords.com/vehicle-mileage-expense-log/
PDF file from SampleWords.com: Tracks date, destination/purpose, odometer reading, business miles, personal miles, total miles. Pros: easy to print and keep in car. Cons: you do the math, no area for expenses. http://www.samplewords.com/auto-mileage-log/
Mileage Log and Reimbursement Form from Microsoft in Excel: Tracks dates, starting location, destination, description/notes(could put business purpose here), odometer start & end, total miles and reimbursement (you enter a rate of reimbursement per mile). Pros: Excel does the math, could be used by employee who gets reimbursed by company, easy to use. Cons: no vehicle expense tracking. Found in Microsoft Excel Templates: Forms/Business forms/Mileage log with reimbursement form.Mileage log with reimbursement form1
Vehicle Maintenance Log from Microsoft in Excel: This spreadsheet appears to be for tracking dates and routine maintenance performed on your vehicle. It could be easily adapted so you enter the expense amount and track totals. Pros: it could be adapted to track expenses. Cons: it does not track mileage. Found in Microsoft Excel Templates: Records/Logs/Vehicle Maintenance Log.TP0130000755
The ones I would suggest trying are: http://www.samplewords.com/vehicle-mileage-expense-log/ to track the miles driven and a customized maintenance log above. Print one sheet out from each file for the month. Stick them in a binder and in the car. Start entering the data for this month. When you go to print one out for next month make sure create a new tab for the new month in the Excel workbook and enter the data for the month just finished so Excel does all the math for you.
Make it a monthy habit and it will not take much time at all.