Why You Should Keep a Mileage Log


Mileage logs are used in business to keep a track of distances travelled for work purposes. If your job involves a lot of driving, or if you have a company car, you will usually be asked to keep a detailed mileage log. Most companies pay a certain amount per mile or kilometre to cover fuel and wear and tear on your vehicle. If you are self-employed you will be able to claim deductions against your tax payments. While it will take some time to set up and even more time to be consistent in using it, it is crucial to keep a mileage log.

Keeping Track of Your Travel

Keep track of any travelling you do for work. Examples include:

  • travelling to and from client offices for meetings;
  • delivering goods and services;
  • using your vehicle for voluntary work.

It is important to keep track of miles or kilometres travelled. If you are self employed, you will be able to get tax relief on your travel costs. With rising fuel prices it is particularly useful to know how much you are spending on travel. You can then make informed choices about how you travel and even make alternative arrangements. Travel is not always necessary and you may look into alternative ways to meet or communicate with clients or colleagues, such as Skype or conference calls.

If you work for an employer, they will need to know how much mileage each employee is doing for auditing and tax purposes. Keeping a mileage log enables them to have an overview of employee travel and look at money saving avenues too. You also want to make sure you are being paid for any travel costs you incur as part of your job. It keeps things above board and can stop employees feeling resentful about paying for work related travel costs.

Tax Purposes

As mentioned above, if you are self employed and using your vehicle for business purposes, you will be able to claim a tax deduction for the costs incurred. The best way to separate your business miles from your personal miles is to keep a mileage log, which can then also be used for tax purposes. If you are employed, your employer will be able to claim tax relief on your travel costs.

Claim Your Money Back

It is important to claim back what you spend on work related travel. Work related travel usually means travel you do in the course of the job, rather than the journey to and from work, unless specifically agreed. Keeping a mileage log means you can be clear about how much fuel you are consuming as part of your job and are remunerated accordingly.

Protect Yourself

Allegations of fraud do happen. In the event of an allegation of fraud in relation to travel claims, you protect yourself by keeping a record of journeys undertaken for work purposes. Keeping a mileage log is the only way that you can back up your claim and have the payment declared as legitimate.

Essentially, you should record where your journey was to and from, and the miles or kilometres accrued (more details below). Keeping these records will help you to answer any questions about mileage claims, if they arose and show when and where you travelled. The tax office can and will also check that travel claims are not fabricated in the course of their work, so having a detailed record of your journeys on hand will save you any worry. If you are unclear about what constitutes business related travel, it is best to ask your employer (or tax professional) so that you know before you start keeping a mileage log.

Creating A Mileage Log

Decide how you will record your mileage. Make sure that the method you use is accessible, easy to use and remember. You could use a notebook or record the details in a diary. Many smart phones also now offer free and premium applications to record mileage on your cell phone. There are also websites that you can use to track your mileage.

Decide what method will be most useful to you and the way you work and travel and then set up your system. Having a reminder in your car can be useful to remind you to record your journey once you have finished driving.

As a rule, you will usually need to record the following data:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Description
  • Purpose
  • To
  • From
  • Odometer (start)
  • Odometer (finish)
  • Mileage

You can also find templates here to give you an idea of what a mileage log looks like.

What to Do When You Forget to Use the Log

If you forget to record your journey, don’t despair. Some vehicles have interactive mileage calculators that can help you retrieve information on trips you forgot to record. You can also enter the details of the places you travelled to and from on a web based route planner and it will be able to give you the mileage for the journey in question. It is best to try and get in the habit of recording your trips as soon as they happen so you don’t forget to add them to your mileage log.

Conclusion

Keeping an accurate mileage log can seem like a laborious task but the amount of tax deduction or payment that you will get back is a good reason for you to keep doing it. Once you have established a routine that works for you, keeping a mileage record becomes easier.

 


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Jen Smith is a Life Coach and Mentor living in the UK. She has tried many career paths herself and now helps people achieve their goals and dreams.
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Discussion

  1. Pippin Williamson on the 19th March

    I used Google Docs to create a simple submission form for my mileage log. I just type the info into appropriate inputs, click submit, and google puts it all into a nice spreadsheet for me. Makes things really, really simple come tax time.

    • Jen Smith on the 21st March

      That’s a good idea Pippin. I like Google Docs – it is a nice way to keep things together and be able to access it on the cloud.

  2. Carlee on the 20th March

    Good post. Anyone got any suggestions for a clean, simple iPhone app for logging daily travel?
    I’ve always recorded my k’s travelled in a log book; handwritten. The last log I completed over a 12-week period is still valid for tax return purposes (it’s less than 5 years old) but I’m freelancing full-time now, travelling more, and living in a different location.
    I want to do another 12-week log but not the pen and paper kind.

  3. Jen Smith on the 21st March

    Hi Carlee

    I haven’t got an iPhone, but when researching this post a lot of iPhone apps came up on Google, so it’s worth a search there too.

    Jen

  4. Bojan on the 21st March

    Mileage log is required in many companies. Where my father works, everyone needs to make a list, because gasoline is being reimbursed for workers. There are numerous benefits to this.

    I think even privately you should still use it, so you control your budget.

  5. Jen Smith on the 21st March

    Hi Bojan

    You’re right, there are lots of benefits to keeping a mileage log – for you and your company. It’s a good way to keep a track of what you’re doing.
    .
    Jen

  6. Sandeep on the 18th July

    I use Android app LogMaster.

  7. Fly Digital on the 29th August

    Hello, we’ve just released a new web app for keeping a paperless mileage log via your smartphone. It’s called Mobile LogBook, and you can find out more about it here: http://www.flydigital.com.au/apps/mobilelogbook.php

    Thought your readers might be interested in taking a look, and we’d love to hear your thoughts on any improvements/upgrades you think we could make to it.

  8. Richard Marier on the 6th September

    I use a device called Triplogik, It records all my travel, and make a report in a few clicks. I was using a smart phone before, and I was always loosing trips or ended up with partial trips as the GPS is not always as strong.

    I highly recommend this mileage logger http://www.triplogik.com
    I can’t live without it any more.

  9. Work in Field on the 3rd November

    Great and very insightful post ! We have just launched a beta program, if you interested to sign up and help us to fine tune application prior we go public, feel free to visit our home page.

    Richard

  10. cheezeweeze on the 2nd January

    I use google’s free My Tracks. What’s great is it uploads the track data to a google doc spreadsheet where it is super easy to total up all the miles by using the sum button.

  11. yougetwhatyoupayfor on the 21st May

    There are a lot of free or almost free apps out there, at least for the platform I use (iOS) and none of them met my expectations (and this includes the mentioned apps in this discussion). I don’t want to go into details but to sum things up, I had the impression the developers of those apps were no older than six. Search for Mileage Log or similar in the App Store and you know what I mean.

    However, I ended up buying an iPhone app with which I am very happy now. I don’t want to make any promotion for any specific app here, but you know the saying: You get what you pay for…

  12. Martin on the 30th June

    Here in Germany fiscal authorities don’t allow spreadsheets like Excel, because you can (or could) manipulate your trips afterwards.

    After several free iPhone Apps which were very disappointing, I gave Miles Log for iPhone a try. It wasn’t cheap, it went for €9.99. However, its beautiful and fits my needs. totally agree with the post from @yougetwhatyoupayfor

  13. Fernando on the 18th May

    Hi Folks,

    I have tried many apps to log my mileage and couldnt trust them on managing my $. I have been using taxmileage and I find it more reliable than others. They record the trip data and syncs with a cloud base server that I can access by browser. It was a great idea to add a server component for back up and convenience purpose. They can be found at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/taxmileage-track-electronically/id580781606?mt=8 or http://www.taxmileage.com

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