Thanks to the boom within the gig industry, more and more Uber or Lyft drivers, along with Ubereats, DoorDash, and Instacart drivers, are now finding themselves in need of a way to track their work-related expenses and mileage. Accurate tracking is immensely important. After all, a full-time driver, working as a Lyft or Uber driver will put around 50,000 extra miles on their vehicle a year, which translates to a $28,750 tax deduction. This is no minor expense and therefore tracking mileage is vital for you if you enjoy one of these “driving” related careers.
Of course, even if you don’t have one of these professions, using your car to make a living or at least as a side gig, you might still need help keeping track of your mileage for work-related expenses. For example, if you are reimbursed through your work for any work-related driving you do, it’s vital to keep accurate records of that mileage. It’s also extremely important to keep track of your mileage if you plan on writing any of it off on your taxes if you happen to be an independent contractor and claim mileage as an expense on your taxes. Trust us, Uncle Sam doesn’t appreciate approximations of your mileage, a number you just come up with as your best guess. This number needs to be accurate and precise.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to simply remember to write your mileage down. While you might have the best of intentions, it can simply slip your mind when you leave from one location to another during a busy workday full of meetings and other responsibilities. Next thing you know, you have no idea how many miles you have driven that you could consider a work-related expense. Thankfully, thanks to the advent of technology and the way it is now interwoven into how we all communicate and do our jobs, you can keep track of your mileage with little effort. That’s right, there is an app for that! Use the following free mileage tracker apps to keep up with all your work-related driving or even just for fun to gauge your average mileage:
Best Free Mileage Trackers
This free app runs quietly in the background, accounting for every single mile you drive. It then generates an IRS-ready report for you, making the tax filing process a bit simpler. You can also use Stride to track other car-related expenses that you could possibly deduct, like parking fees, car washes, snacks for passengers, and toll fees.
If you aren’t sure a certain expense is applicable for deduction, Stride also walks you through the process of determining this in an easy-to-understand, step-by-step system, designed to help you figure out if a specific expense is or is not deductible. You can download the app through either Google Play for Android or iTunes for Apple devices.
While MileIQ is free up to 40 drives a month, you do have to pay $5.99 monthly for this app if you go over that limit. Therefore, it probably isn’t ideal for you as a Lyft or Uber driver, unless you are willing to pay the monthly charge. Instead, it is best utilized by professionals who need to track work-related mileage but don’t necessarily make that many trips a month.
Like similar tracking apps, MileIQ, which is available on both Apple and Android devices, provides you with a comprehensive log of your mileage. You can classify trips in various categories, like charity, personal, business, etc. This tells MileIQ where to put each trip. Then, you can ask MileIQ for just your business mileage log or just your personal mileage log, etc. and then use this information to file taxes or just for your own personal use.
Keep in mind, even if you end up paying for this app, it could be worth it as users save on average around $7,124 yearly by using this app to track mileage deductions on their taxes.
3.) Mileage Expense Log: MEL
This app works automatically as long as you keep your phone’s GPS on and will allow you to quickly assess your mileage rates. Mileage Expense Log will automatically track and log all your mileage. You can then sort your trips into various categories like the purpose of the trip, dates, etc. and can then export this information into a database as either a CVS or HTML. Unfortunately, you can only use Mileage Expense Log or MEL with Apple products. However, if you have an Apple watch, this app works in conjunction with that device.
The TripLog’s app expense tracking and mileage features are free to use. However, if you want to unlock additional features, like auto-tracking or cloud data backup, you must upgrade the app to the paid version, which is around $4 monthly. TripLog is available for download on both Android and Apple devices and allows you to see your complete driving route for an entire day and gives you the ability to review these trips for categorization. The app holds the distinction as the #1 mileage app and expense log for companies and individuals for a tax deduction and/or business-related reimbursement.
5.) QuickBooks Self Employed
Although you most likely recognize the name QuickBooks as a bookkeeping app, it actually has a lesser-known feature. The QuickBooks Self Employed app also has a built-in, automatic mileage feature. According to those who have downloaded the app, it takes only a small amount of space, using only 2.73 MB of data. It is also extremely accurate, beating out other traditional mobile mileage trackers.
You can set the app to automatically track your mileage and then later categorize each trip as either personal or business-related. You can also further enhance the accuracy of the app by changing the settings, but be warned, doing so will cause the app to use more of your phone’s battery.
However, if you use your car for a good mixture of personal and business trips, it can be worth the battery drain just in terms of making it easier for you to accurately ascertain your business mileage. In addition, the QuickBooks Self-Employed app will compile a year-long look at your years’ worth of expenses and help you determine if you would be better off deducting your mileage as expenses or mileage. This can be a big help if you aren’t sure which option would give you a better return. You can actually compare the two options and easily make the decision. QuickBooks Self-Employed is available for download on both Android and Apple devices.
6.) Everlance Mileage Tracker
You will have to pay for Everlance if you want to track more than 30 trips a month. However, if you track less than that, it is free to use. If you do go over that 30-trip threshold, you can expect to pay $8 monthly or $60 annually. As with the other mileage tracking apps mentioned, Everlance will automatically track your mileage unless you turn it off. Also, it’s important to note that this app is worse in terms of battery wear than other similar apps.
With Everlance, you can accurately track each trip, classify them and then create either Excel or PDF reports at any time, which can be used to file taxes or to turn in for expense reports, which are designed to be IRS compliant. You also can use Everlance to track additional expenses. This app is trusted by over a million people who use it regularly, was voted “Best New App” by both Google and Apple, is rated 4.9 out of 5 stars by users, and is available for download on both Apple and Android devices.
While the basic version of the Hurdlr mileage tracking app is free to download and use, there are some premium features that you can only access with the paid version. To gain access to more premium features, like automatic tracking and real-time, quarterly, or yearly tax estimations, you can purchase the premium version of Hurdlr for $7.99 monthly or $60 annually.
Hurdlr conveniently links to thousands of financial institutions, allowing you to link your Hurdlr account with your credit union or bank account. It works with Freshbooks, Uber, Square, Paypal, and Stripe to automatically import both expenses and income and is available for download on both Apple and Android devices. Even the free nonpremium version of the app allows you to track your expenses, income tax and offers semi-automatic mileage tracking.
8.) MileWiz 2020
You can use this helpful tracking app for free for up to 20 trips a month. If you log more than that though, you will have to upgrade to the paid version, which is $5 monthly. MileWiz automatically tracks your miles and is ideal for you to use if you happen to use your car to make money i.e. Uber or Lyft or if you work for a company and use your car for company business. This app is IRS-compliant and allows you to easily organize your trips into categories of your choosing.
Another smart feature of MileWiz is its GPS utilization. It works with your GPS, employing advanced algorithms that limit your GPS usage. Consequently, this means your smartphone’s battery will be conserved as much as possible. The MileWiz app is available for download on both Android and Apple devices.
Available for download on both Android and Apple devices, the SherpaShare app is the ideal app for Lyft or Uber drivers. In addition to the standard mileage tracker, this app comes complete with a smart driver tool that helps you formulate the best route. Some drivers claim this feature has helped them boost income by 30%. This app is perfectly suited for freelancers, business travelers, delivery people, and ridesharing drivers as a way to easily tabulate business-related mileage. SherpaShare allows you to connect with other drivers to determine current traffic conditions, categorize your expenses, and classify your trips. Once you have all the information, you can download a printable spreadsheet that is perfect for an expense report or tax return. This app is available for a 14-day free trial.
Mileage And Tax Deductions
Obviously, the primary reason for you to track your mileage is to use that information when you file taxes. As a self-employed independent contractor, expenses like mileage are applicable for tax deductions. The current amount you can claim is 57.5 cents per mile for the 2020 tax year. However, there is another way you can use your vehicle to merit a reduction in your payment to Uncle Sam. You can also claim it as a car expense. Either way, you are using your vehicle and miles traveled and wear-and-tear as a tax deduction.
Who Qualifies For a Mileage Tax Deduction?
Unfortunately, not every employee who doesn’t have their expenses reimbursed qualifies for a tax deduction based on mileage. Thankfully, though, there are still many professionals who do qualify as they are as follows:
- A self-employed worker who is classified as an independent contractor, like a driver for rideshare services.
- Small business owners who are self-employed and file either Schedule F or Schedule C.
- Specific types of employees like those who are in the armed forces reserves, performing artists and government officials.
- Individuals who travel for medical appointments or for volunteer work.
Deciding Between Standard Mileage Rate And Car Expense
As mentioned above, there are two ways to earn a deduction through the use of your vehicle. They are outlined in more detail below. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages and a tax professional (or personal finance software) can advise you which will garner you the biggest deduction:
- Car Expense: Keep in mind, if you choose to claim your mileage and wear-and-tear of your vehicle as an actual car expense, you will have to do that from now on as long as you are operating the same business.
- Standard Mileage Rate: If you choose this deduction, you can claim 57.5 cents per mile in the 2020 tax year. Be aware that if you choose this method of deduction and later decide to switch, you will have to abide by specific rules that takes vehicle depreciation into consideration.
Other Expenses You Can Deduct in Addition to Mileage
The mileage tracking apps listed above are great ways to keep up with your mileage for tax purposes. However, you don’t have to stop at miles. You can also claim toll and parking fees in some cases. Some of the apps have a feature that allows you to incorporate those additional expenses.
Mileage That Can be Deducted
You wouldn’t expect to be able to deduct mileage from your own personal use. Deductible miles include any of the following instances:
- Grocery pick ups and drop offs if you are driving for Instacart.
- Delivery runs.
- Dropping off and picking up riders.
- Mileage to purchase something for your business or to go through the car wash for the car you use for your business.
All the applicable mileage needed for you to complete the above tasks are considered deductible miles by the IRS.
Using Your Mileage Apps
The mileage tracking apps listed above are all ideal ways to keep track of your business-related mileage. Of course, you can also use them just for fun to track trip miles. Most will work automatically; some you have to turn on when you are ready to begin tracking and others give you the option to choose which style you would prefer.
While you can keep up with your mileage the old-fashioned way with paper and pen, it can get overwhelming when driving is a big part of your job. For example, it’s estimated that most individuals who drive for Uber or Lyft put up to 1,000 miles on their car a week. Keeping up with that much mileage without a tracker would be nearly impossible. Therefore, we encourage you to download one and start tracking those miles because they can really add up, and deducting them can most certainly make a positive difference in the taxes you owe.