Maximizing your deductions at tax time will save you a ton of money, but in order to do that, you’ll need a good mileage tracking system. So we tried all of the top mileage tracking apps, and here are our favorites!
Tracking mileage is a key component of maximizing your profits and reducing your overall tax burden as an Uber or Lyft driver. Today I’m going to introduce you to some simple technology that makes it easy to track the miles your drive for business. Whichever method you choose, solid record keeping is absolutely vital in case the IRS ever decides to audit you and to make sure you get the largest possible deduction come tax time!
Stride Drive is a FREE mileage and expense tracking app that will allow you to record your mileage by running in the background as you drive. You can start and stop recording your mileage for each trip by tapping the start button when you leave home – or in some versions of the app, you can set it up to record automatically. You can also use Stride Drive to log your receipts and expense records, so you’ll have all your business deductions in one place at tax time. The app even includes pre-loaded categories and explanations specifically geared towards rideshare drivers, so you’ll know exactly which expenses to log (and what percentage of them you can deduct).
You don’t want a bloated app sucking up all your processing power while you’re swapping back and forth between Uber, Lyft, and navigation apps. Fortunately, Stride is easy on your phone. The latest Android rendition of the app is incredibly lightweight and easy to use. It won’t slow your phone down much, even if you’re juggling multiple rideshare apps – a really important feature, especially if you’ve got an older phone. One other benefit: The Android app only requires one permission to install, so you can rest assured that Stride won’t be collecting data on you – other than your location, of course.
Stride has its roots specializing in providing health care and other benefits to on-demand workers by acting as a platform that allows independent contractors to find the best health plans. Stride Drive continues their mission of providing services for on-demand workers.
QuickBooks Self-Employed doesn’t just track expenses, it tracks mileage too. The app automatically tracks mileage using your phone’s GPS and groups them into trips so you can categorize them as either business or personal. This feature, combined with expense swiping and receipt capture, lets you easily compare whether deducting actual expenses like gas, maintenance and car washes will get you a bigger tax benefit versus taking the standard mileage deduction (check out this post for more info on how deductions work). Then, when you’re ready to file, your taxes will essentially be ready to go!
QuickBooks Self-Employed starts at only $5 a month but you can try it free for 30 days. If you’re serious about really maximizing your rideshare profits, this is one app you should definitely check out.
Trip Tracking Apps Just For Mileage
There are a number of mileage tracking applications available that allow you to automatically begin logging miles every time you turn on the car, so you won’t have to press a “start” or “stop” button. Some interface with your car’s Bluetooth, and as soon as you start moving over a certain number of miles per hour, it begins the mile tracking. Of course, you’ll have to distinguish between personal trips and business trips, so be sure to look over the data every few days and take note of your business miles. Here are a couple of the more popular apps that we have personally tested and recommend:
MileIQ: MileIQ allows you to categorize a trip as personal or professional with a single swipe — left for personal, right for professional. It also offers a secure cloud sync, giving you access to your complete trip history. It’s free if you take fewer than 40 rides per month, but since most TNC drivers will drive more than that, you will most likely pay a small monthly fee.
TripLog: TripLog’s basic features are free. And advanced features, such as Bluetooth “autostart” and automatic daily cloud backup, come at a nominal price. You can also use TripLog to estimate your gas mileage and find the best gas prices.
Free Mileage Tracking Apps
There are a couple of free mileage tracking apps out there, too and one of the most popular is Hurdlr. Some drivers find this app to be a bit of a battery hog, but it includes some nice features such as graphs to show your net earnings and expenses over time, and in-app customer support where you can get help from a real human.
Everlance used to be another free option for drivers, but it looks like they recently started charging drivers too.
The TNCs send annual summaries of the miles you’ve driven, but these reports don’t necessarily provide all the information you need. The Uber reports, for example, only provide the mileage you drove while a passenger is in the car. Lyft, on the other hand, reports all the miles you drove while your car was in driver mode.
Either way, you’ll still want to keep your own independent records. Not only is it good to have backup in case their GPS goes awry (which can happen), but there may be times when you drive for business while your app is off (say, en route to certain hotspots, or returning home from a trip that took you into the boonies). These miles could all be deductible.
Old School Mileage Tracking
Before apps interfaced with GPS, Bluetooth or OBD II ports, business people either recorded their odometer readings at the beginning and end of each trip, or they used their trip odometers track their miles. Either method is acceptable to the IRS, assuming you document each trip (rough estimates could get your in trouble during an audit). You can either purchase a trip diary that you store in your car, or you can record the vital information in an Excel spreadsheet.
Drivers, what’s your favorite mileage tracking app and why?
-Harry @ RSG
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