How to Claim Unreimbursed Mileage

Unreimbursed mileage can add up to a hefty tax deduction.

Unreimbursed mileage can add up to a hefty tax deduction.

If your boss expects you to use your car as part of your job, he might reimburse you for mileage. However, some employers pay only a partial mileage and some don’t pay anything. The good news is that Uncle Sam will help you out because you can claim unreimbursed mileage as a tax deduction when you file your income tax return.

Keep track of your work-related driving. The easy way to do this is to record everything in a mileage logbook. You can buy one at an office supply store. Enter the starting and ending odometer readings for each trip. Subtract the starting figure from the ending figure to find the trip mileage. Make a note of the date, the reason for the trip and where you went. Don’t mix personal and business driving. If you do a personal errand while on work-related business, all remaining mileage for that trip is disqualified.

Add up all the miles you drove at the end of the year. Multiply the total by the Internal Revenue Service standard mileage rate for business travel. Each year, the IRS adjusts the rate for changes in driving costs and publishes a current rate. The standard rate is the rate an employer can reimburse you tax-free and also serves as the rate per mile you use to claim unreimbursed mileage on your tax return. For example, in 2012 the standard rate was 55.5 cents per mile.

Subtract the total amount your employer pays you as mileage reimbursement. The amount remaining is the amount of unreimbursed mileage expenses you can claim on your tax return.

Get a blank copy of IRS Form 2106 or 2106EZ, “Employee Business Expenses and Reimbursements.” You can download and print Forms 21106/2106EZ on the IRS website. Attach the completed form to your income tax return

Tip

  • You always have the option of claiming your actual vehicle expenses instead of mileage. However, to use actual vehicle expenses, you have to keep all of your receipts for gasoline, oil, car repairs and other driving-related purchases. You also need records of car insurance payments and lease payments or interest on car loans. You still have to keep track of mileage. You can only deduct the car expenses attributable to business driving, so you need a record of business mileage to compare to the total miles you drove during the year. Use Form 2106 or 2106EZ to figure depreciation, report your expenses and calculate your total deduction.

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