Is a mileage tracking app really necessary?
It might seem easier to track mileage by hand, simply using a notes app on your phone to track mileage after each trip.
However, if you’re driving regularly for work, using manual tracking methods is likely leading you to miss out on miles (and therefore, deductions). In addition, human errors may cause you to miscalculate mileage or miss trips altogether.
But you might still be wondering if a mileage tracking app is really the solution you need—and if so, which is the best mileage tracking app to use?
Read on for answers to both of those questions and more, or jump directly to what you need.
What is the best way to track mileage for taxes?
If you’re tracking your mileage for taxes, or even for an employer to reimburse you, there’s a few different options. For example:
- Tracking by hand using pen and paper or a note on your phone
- Using a google sheet or excel spreadsheet
- Using a mileage tracking app
Tracking your mileage by hand
This method requires time, patience, a good memory and also an attention to detail.
It’s straightforward—usually—but it’s also easy to forget to write down your mileage, misplace or delete a document that you needed, miscalculate mileage, or make other very human errors. Not to mention it’s also tedious and gets really tiring after a few weeks!
Using a digital spreadsheet
If you use a digital spreadsheet, for example, an Excel spreadsheet or Google sheet, it’s definitely a lot easier at the end of the year to tally up mileage, make sure you’re not missing data and keep everything organized.
However, there’s also still a lot of human inaccuracies that can happen while you’re busy at work, trying to keep track of mileage and making sure to enter it correctly into your spreadsheets.
Using a mileage tracking app
This is by far the easiest way to track your mileage, and, if you use a GPS-based mileage tracker, one of the most accurate as well.
Automatic mileage tracking means you never miss a mile, and you never have to worry about mileage logs, odometer readings, or messy spreadsheets again. Some apps, like Everlance, will also create a tax-ready report as well that you can use to easily input mileage and other deductions into a tax preparation software or hand over to your accountant.
How do mileage tracking apps work?
Different mileage tracking apps have different methods of recording mileage, but the most accurate and best mileage tracking apps use GPS technology to accurately and automatically track mileage.
When you have the app running, you can start or stop trips manually to allow the app to record mileage using GPS tracking. Alternatively, some mileage tracking apps, like Everlance, allow you to set up automatic driving detection and the app will automatically detect when you’re driving and record your trips.
Once your trips are recorded, you can then classify trips as business or personal, and add tags or income sources to sort your trips further. At the end of the year (or any time you need), you can view or export your total miles, as well as reports of your mileage for different clients or income sources.
Should I use an app to track mileage?
The short answer: if you drive for work, the answer is yes! Using an app to track your mileage can save you time and reduce the amount of taxes you have to pay.
What counts as business mileage?
Not sure what counts as driving for work? You can count all of the following for business mileage in most cases:
- mileage driven for a work-related delivery or ride, such as Lyft or Doordash
- driving to meet with clients for a work-related meeting, meal or business event
- driving to an event that’s required for your job
- driving to a conference or class that’s required for your job, or for your ongoing education
- driving between workplaces, if you work at multiple sites or locations
- driving between jobs, such as if you work for Wag! or clean houses and need to drive from house to house to complete your job
- driving to pick up supplies or run a work-related errand
- driving between a workplace and another work-related event (i.e. going from the office to a business meeting)
One big exception that does not count as work mileage is commuting mileage.
Commuting mileage is any mileage between your home and a regular place of work, even if you only work there part-time. You cannot deduct commuting mileage from your taxes, even if:
- You work there only part-time
- You stop somewhere on the way to work (i.e. say home → Staples for office supplies → office)
- You work as an independent contractor and not a full-time employee (if the place you’re driving to is a regular place of business.
If you have multiple locations or job sites that you work at regularly, and drive between multiple locations each day, only the first and last trip of the day count as commuting mileage. For example:
In this case, the first trip of the day and the last trip of the day (25 miles) are not eligible for deductions.
The other mileage throughout the day is considered business mileage and would be tax-deductible.
Is a mileage tracker worth it?
A mileage tracking app is worth it for at least three reasons:
1. Mileage tracking apps save you more on taxes, ensuring you never miss miles.
If you’re tracking mileage by hand—whether you use a pen and paper, the notes app on your phone or a fancy Google sheet—there’s bound to be missed mileage. Your day gets busy, you forget to take notice of your starting odometer reading, or worse, you misread it and realize at the end of the day that your mileage doesn’t add up.
It’s also easy to miss tracking for shorter trips, but even those small 3-mile trips add up over a whole year! Using an automatic mileage tracker like Everlance allows you to automatically record mileage whenever you drive.
2. Mileage tracking apps help you keep your logs IRS-compliant.
In order for records to be IRS-compliant in the event of an audit, you have to keep track of a number of items, not just mileage. IRS-compliant mileage logs include details on:
- The date of each trip
- The destination and business purpose of each trip
- The start and stop odometer readings of each trip
- The total miles of each trip
- The total annual mileage for each business use
- Start- and end-of-year odometer readings
As you can see, using a mileage tracking app that records all of this for you effortlessly is the easiest way to avoid audits and ensure you’re tracking deductions appropriately.
3. Mileage tracking apps save you tons of time.
Similarly, keeping accurate and IRS-compliant mileage records by hand requires a good memory, a detail-oriented attitude and also a lot of time! Maintaining records and keeping them up day in and day out is time-consuming.
When using a mileage tracking app, you don’t have to worry about any of this. Simply set the app to auto-record and you’re good to go. At the end of each day, you can simply classify your trips and rest easy knowing everything’s recorded.
With Everlance, you can even use additional features like long session or work hours to make tracking and classifying trips even easier. Long session allows you to track multiple trips in one long session, rather than having to classify a dozen different trips after driving all day.
For example, if you drive with Uber, instead of tracking and classifying each trip (and the driving done between trips as well!) individually, you can simply start long session tracking when you start your shift, and let all your miles be recorded in one long trip.
Alternatively, you can use the work hours feature to set Everlance to automatically mark any driving between certain hours as business. If you always drive for Uber between 6-9pm, you can mark those as work hours and skip classifying. Easy, made easier.
Who should track their business mileage?
Anyone who drives for work should track their business mileage, either for reimbursement for your company or as a tax write-off.
If you work for a company that reimburses you for mileage, tracking your mileage is essential to get reimbursed. A mileage tracking app can make your job a lot easier and ensure you get reimbursed accurately.
If you work as an independent contractor and do not get reimbursed for mileage or car ownership expenses, your business mileage is tax-deductible, if you keep careful and accurate records. In this case, using a mileage tracking app can help you keep your records IRS-compliant and save you time and money at tax time.
You should use an app for mileage tracking if you work as a:
- delivery or rideshare driver for a platform like Uber, Lyft, Doordash, etc.
- gig worker that drives between jobs, like working for Wag!, Rover, or Thumbtack
- real estate agent
- sales rep
- wedding photographer
- truck driver
- food or beverage distributor
- basically anyone who drives for business!
Why should self-employed workers track their mileage?
As a self-employed worker, it’s important to remember that companies you work with will not withhold any taxes from the income they pay to you.
As a result, you’re responsible for paying the Self-Employment Tax for your income. Because of this tax responsibility, self-employed people need to find ways to lower their taxes. One of the best ways to lower self-employed taxes is to keep track of all your business mileage and expenses with well-kept records.
The more tax deductions you have, the lower your taxable income will be, and the less you’ll owe to the IRS. The more miles you track—made easier with a mileage tracking app—the more deductions you’ll have at tax time. Once you write off all your business miles, you’ll get to keep more money in your pocket.
What is the best mileage tracking app?
While there are a number of mileage tracking apps on the market, there’s some that stand out above the crowd. Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the most popular along with their pros and cons:
MileIQ is a popular app for mileage tracking, although it lacks some features that other apps offer, such as route planning and expense tracking.
- Premium version is available for only $5
- Simple mileage tracking without a lot of extras
- Name regularly visited locations and frequent routes
- Great for non-tech-savvy drivers who need fewer features
- Only 40 drives available on the free plan
- No expense tracking tools means you can’t track all deductions in one place
- Lacking some features that other apps support
- Doesn’t have advanced tax reporting features
Everlance is a popular app among gig workers, self-employed workers and also employees who need to track mileage for reimbursements. It has a simple interface that effortlessly tracks mileage and expenses and offers features for a variety of drivers.
- Unlimited drives available on the free plan
- Auto-classification of trips with work hours and favorite places
- Expense tracking with optional bank and credit card integrations
- IRS compliant mileage logs and reports
- Tons of features for tracking and finding all deductions, not just mileage
- Best for gig workers, self-employed workers & small business owners
- Only 30 automatically-tracked drives available on the free plan (but unlimited start-and-stop tracking)
- Doesn’t offer route planning features
Triplog is another popular app for tracking mileage, in part because of its extensive features. For gig workers who just need a simple app, Triplog may provide more than what you need, but for teams or folks looking for more robust options, Triplog may provide some useful features.
- Multiple ways to track drives, including auto-track, manual tracking, Bluetooth and more.
- Offers scheduling and time tracking features, if you need
- Great for larger companies who need to track mileage, expenses and timecards for employees
- Automatic mileage tracking isn’t available on free plans
- Switching between business and personal use for drives can be buggy
- Can require some monitoring to ensure it’s tracking correctly
Ready to automate your mileage tracking?
Mileage tracking doesn’t have to be a chore.
With unlimited free trips, tons of helpful features for gig workers and self-employed workers, and a low premium monthly price if you need more, Everlance is the easiest way to track mileage and expenses.
Get started with Everlance today, and start saving time and money.