Deducting Business Vehicle Expenses

You can deduct expenses for a vehicle you use for your business. If you use the vehicle for both personal and business purposes, you can deduct only the costs for business use. Use this equation to find your business use percentage:

Business miles you drove / Total miles you drove in the year = Business use

You can’t deduct commuting miles — the distance you drive from your home to work. However, you can deduct the cost of traveling from one business location to another.

Use the standard mileage rate or the actual expenses method to figure your expenses.

Standard mileage rate method

If you use the standard mileage rate method, multiply the number of business miles you drove by the standard mileage rate. The standard mileage rate for 2017 is $0.535 per mile.

In addition to your standard mileage deduction, you can also deduct the cost of parking fees and tolls you pay for business. However, you can’t deduct the amount you pay for parking at your place of employment.

If you’re self-employed, you can also deduct your car loan interest that’s related to your business use of the car.

You can also deduct the business portion of personal property taxes you pay on your vehicle. Personal property taxes are taxes you pay based upon the value, not the weight, of your vehicle. (Ex: city excise tax)

Actual expenses method

If you use the actual expenses method, deduct the actual expenses of:

  • Owning your car
  • Operating your car

Actual expenses include:

  • License plates
  • Gas and oil
  • Tolls
  • Insurance
  • Garage rent
  • Parking fees
  • Registration fees
  • Washing and polishing
  • Repairs
  • Tires

You can also deduct depreciation if you own the vehicle. If you lease a vehicle, you can deduct the lease payments related to the business use of your car.

Your vehicle’s fair market value (FMV) might be more than the amount allowed on the lease term’s first day. If so, subtract the lease-inclusion amount from the amount you can deduct as a lease payment. The FMV can’t be more than:

  • $19,000 for passenger automobiles
  • $19,500 for trucks or vans

This applies to leases beginning in 2017. For tables with lease-inclusion amounts, see Publication 463: Travel, Entertainment and Gift Expenses at www.irs.gov.

You can’t use the standard mileage rate if you:

  • Used the actual expenses method in the first year you placed the car in service
  • Use five or more vehicles in your business at the same time
  • Claim depreciation deduction for the car using a method other than straight-line
  • Claim Section 179 deduction on the car
  • Claim actual expenses after 1997 for a car you leased
  • Are a rural mail carrier who received a qualified reimbursement

Recordkeeping

Keep these items to support the deductions you claim:

  • Receipts
  • Canceled checks
  • Bills

You should also keep a mileage log to track your mileage for the year. For each trip, log these:

  • Date
  • Miles traveled
  • Destination
  • Trip’s purpose, like:
    • Business
    • Personal use
    • Commute to work

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