In 2021, the standard IRS mileage rate is 56 cents per mile for business miles driven, 14 cents per mile for charity miles driven and 16 cents per mile for moving or medical purposes. In 2020, the IRS standard mileage rate was higher (57.5 cents, 14 cents and 17 cents per mile).
You must meet certain requirements and itemize your taxes to deduct mileage. If you qualify to deduct mileage, the IRS mileage rate is a way to calculate how much to reduce your taxable income.
What is the IRS mileage rate for 2021?
2020 tax year
2021 tax year
Business mileage rate
57.5 cents / mile
56 cents / mile
Medical and moving mileage rate
17 cents / mile
16 cents / mile
Charitable mileage rate
14 cents / mile
14 cents / mile
Your tax deduction depends on how you use your vehicle. If you’re self-employed or work as a contractor, you might be able to deduct the cost of the use of your car for business purposes. Commuting to work is generally not deductible mileage.
How to calculate a mileage deduction
There are two options for calculating the deduction for the business use of your vehicle.
1. Standard mileage deduction
This is the most straightforward way of calculating your driving expense: simply multiply the number of business miles by the IRS mileage rate. However, you’ll need keep a record of your business-related mileage.
The rules for business mileage deductions can be complex, especially if you use lots of vehicles for business, just got a new vehicle or leased the vehicle. The IRS website has more details.
2. Actual expenses
If you don’t want to track your mileage, you could track and deduct the actual expenses you incur while using your vehicle for business purposes. These expenses may include:
Gas and oil
See what else you can do for your business
IRS mileage rate deduction for volunteering and charitable activities
If you used your car to help a charity or to go somewhere to volunteer, the mileage can be deductible. You can deduct parking fees and tolls as well.
If you don’t want to deduct your mileage, you can deduct your unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as gas and oil. However, the expenses have to relate directly to the use of your car in giving services to a charitable organization. Also, you can't deduct repair and maintenance costs, depreciation, registration fees, tires or insurance.
IRS mileage rate deduction for moving
Only active duty members of the military can deduct mileage related to moving. The move has to be related to a permanent change of station.
IRS mileage rate deduction for medical situations
If you used your car for medical reasons, you may be able to deduct the mileage. "Medical reasons" includes:
Driving to the doctor, hospital or other medical facility.
Driving a child or other person who needs medical care to receive medical care.
Driving to see a mentally ill dependent if the visits are recommended as part of treatment.
You can deduct parking fees and tolls as well.
If you don’t want to deduct your mileage, you can deduct your unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses, such as gas and oil. However, the expenses have to relate directly to the use of your car for medical purposes. Also, you can't deduct repair and maintenance costs, depreciation or insurance.
Mileage isn’t the only transportation cost you might be able to deduct as a medical expense. IRS Publication 502 has the details. Here’s a big caveat: In general, you can deduct qualified, unreimbursed medical expenses that are more than 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.
How to claim tax deductions using IRS mileage rates
If you're deducting mileage for moving, medical or charity purposes, you'll need to itemize on your tax return in order to claim the tax deduction for mileage. Itemizing means you’ll need to set aside extra time when preparing your returns to fill out the big enchilada of tax forms: the Form 1040 and Schedule A, as well as supporting schedules that feed into those forms.
If you're self-employed, you’ll claim your mileage deduction as a business expense on Schedule C.
If you file your taxes online, the software will ask about your mileage during the interview process and calculate the deduction.
Tracking your mileage
This is important because if you’re audited, you may need to substantiate your deduction by showing a log of the miles you drove.
There are lots of ways to keep track of your mileage. Something as simple as keeping a pen and paper in the glove compartment can suffice, but a quick trip to Google or your phone's app store will reveal a variety of tools that can streamline things.
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