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 your mileage 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!
Why can’t you use Uber and Lyft’s year-end mileage reports? These reports don’t give the IRS the full picture on your rideshare driving. Uber’s reports, for instance, only provide the mileage driven while carrying a passenger in the car, which is only a limited picture of all the miles you can deduct.
The IRS Standard Mileage Deduction for business use in 2017 is $0.535/mile. Many Uber and Lyft drivers will put more than 1,000 miles a week on their vehicle. So if there is one thing you should be tracking as a rideshare driver other than your money, it’s the business miles that you’re putting on your car.
QuickBooks Self-Employed may be known as a bookkeeping app, but what is less known is that it also has a built-in automatic mileage tracker that is very good. You can set up QBSE to automatically track your mileage and then categorize each trip as business or personal.
At the end of the tax year, QBSE will automatically compare your business miles with all of your actual expenses and recommend whichever deduction is greater between mileage and actual expenses.
QuickBooks Self-Employed Does Pretty Much Everything
One of the reasons that QuickBooks Self-Employed is at the top of this list is that it’s just so comprehensive. It does the best job of syncing with banks, monitoring expenses, and automating my book-keeping as a driver.
Personally, I’ve automated most of my recurring expenses by now, and the result is that at the end of the week I spend maybe 15 minutes categorizing my business miles and transactions. RSG Senior Contributor and driver Christian Perea calls it his “taxes on the toilet” time.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is a paid app, 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.
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 toward rideshare drivers, so you’ll know exactly which expenses to log (and what percentage of them you can deduct).
One thing drivers can’t have is a bloated app sucking up all our processing power while we’re swapping back and forth between Uber, Lyft, and navigation apps. Fortunately, Stride is easy on your phone. The latest Android version of the app is incredibly lightweight (in terms of processing power) 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.
Mileage 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:
TripLog 2.0: TripLog’s basic features are free. 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. Of all the mileage tracking apps available, TripLog is the best mileage tracking app for those who want to control WHEN it will start tracking your trips. However, it still tends to have a somewhat clunky user interface.
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 would likely end up paying the $6/month.
I should also mention that when I used MileIQ, it used the most battery and mobile data of all the apps listed in this article.
Free Mileage Tracking Apps
Stride Drive: For ease of use and battery usage, Stride Drive is our pick for the best of the free tracking apps. This is why I listed them above as one of the top mileage tracking apps. The one drawback to Stride Drive was that it doesn’t do “automatic” mileage tracking very well, so you have to remember to manually begin tracking a trip. This can also be a benefit if you really prefer to have the most control over the trips that are recorded.
Hurdlr: Hurdlr is another solid, free mileage tracking app that also tracks expenses in addition to mileage. 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.
Hurdlr also gives you a little bit more control over your “automatic” mileage tracking by allowing you to begin recording miles whenever your phone connects to your car’s bluetooth.
Everlance: Allows you to track 30 trips a month for free. After those 30 trips are used up, it’s $7.99/month or $59.99 annually. It has an excellent user interface (UI) and allows you to track all your other expenses as well.
Year-end Mileage Reports From Uber or Lyft
Uber and Lyft send annual mileage summaries around tax time. The IRS will accept these reports as proof for a mileage deduction. However, most rideshare drivers shouldn’t rely on these reports because they are very thin and only account for a small fraction of the miles that most rideshare drivers will drive for business purposes.
The Uber reports, for example, only provide the mileage driven while actively carrying a passenger in the car. Lyft, on the other hand, reports all the miles driven while your car was in driver mode. Both only offer a limited picture of the miles that you can deduct.
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 Logbooks
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 to track their miles. Either method is acceptable to the IRS, assuming you document each trip (rough estimates could get you 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.
In my experience though, doing this can be tedious since the last thing I want to do after driving for 6-12 hours is even more work. Also, If you forget to reset your odometer before a shift, you’ll end up a little bit confused.
Drivers, what’s your favorite mileage tracking app and why?
-Harry @ RSG
Make Every Mile CountDid you know that every 1,000 business miles can generate $535 in tax deductions? Never miss another mile with the new QuickBooks Self-Employed automatic mileage tracker.
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