How To Write Off Your Car Or Truck For Business

This story appears in the March 2012 problem of . Q: It’s taxes season–time to ponder that annual conundrum: Just how much of my vehicle utilization can I claim as a business expenditure? So let’s break it down. Like all taxpayers, business owners who use their car, vehicle, minivan, or rickshaw for business purposes may be eligible to declare a deduction or exclude the value of said vehicle off their income. That is typically done in another of two ways.

If you possess the vehicle, the most common method may the bean counters at the IRS as an accountable plan, which is akin to an expense account. You drive your automobile for work purposes, keep an eye on the expenses incurred while doing so and seek reimbursement. We’re discussing tolls, parking, gas, car washes, mileage, maintenance, and repairs. Sorry, however the tax code will not permit deductions for commuting to work, which is considered an individual use.

Typically, Soled says, you post these costs to your employer, and the company ponies up. Of course, as a business owner, you might also be responsible for verifying your employees’ expenses–that is, confirming that their expenditures resulted from a bona fide business use. In the second scenario, a business owner may supply an employee with a company-owned vehicle. The employee monitors the time he or she spends driving the automobile for business and personal use. Enough time spent using the car for business purposes should not be regarded as income, however the employee’s personal use of the car must be considered income (based on the fair-market annual lease value of the car). 5,000 as noncash income.

Those are two common ways in which vehicle claims are considered for tax purposes–the easy part, if you shall. In reality, it can get more difficult. What if a business owner drives to more than one job site? Or even to two different jobs? Which can help clarify why conformity with IRS guidelines on autos is very poor. When the risk of the audit is 1 percent, Soled says, many taxpayers are content to flex the rules and take their chances. We would on go, but we’ve gone out of room. What, you were expecting David Foster Wallace?

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