Tax Tips: Record-Keeping for the Road

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Whether you claim the standard mileage allowance or actual expenses you must keep a good record of your business travel. The record must be contemporaneous, meaning you should record the information on the day the trip occurs.

Record each individual business trip separately. Enter the date, location, business purpose and miles driven for each trip in some kind of diary, account book or expense log. A pocket date book can be used as your travel log.

You should also note any toll expenses. If you have EZ Pass you can identify the trip and cost on the monthly statement. I also enter in my travel log the quarter I put in the parking meter while visiting a client or the cost of using a pay phone to call the client when I am running late — any expense for which I do not receive an actual paper receipt.

You should start off the year by entering the total miles on your car on the morning of Jan. 1 in your log — and end the year by entering the speedometer reading after your last trip on Dec. 31. If you sell the car during the year, enter the total miles on the date of sale and enter the beginning mileage on your new car on the day you drive it off the lot. In addition to the business miles driven for the year, you will also need to know the total miles driven for the year.

New Jersey tax pro Robert D. Flach has been preparing 1040s for individuals since 1972.

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