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.
If you’re tracking your mileage for taxes, or even for an employer to reimburse you, there’s a few different options. For example:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not sure what counts as driving for work? You can count all of the following for business mileage in most cases:
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:
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.
A mileage tracking app is worth it for at least three reasons:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, is the easiest way to track mileage and expenses.
Get started with Everlance today, and start saving time and money.