As many of you probably know, your business driving -- to and from jobsites and supply houses, for example, or to attend workshops -- is tax-deductible. The question is whether to use actual costs or standard mileage as the way to calculate the expense.
Actual-costs accounting takes the total costs of operating the vehicle -- gas, repairs, insurance, and depreciation -- and multiplies that figure by a percentage of business use. Standard-mileage calculation tallies the number of business miles driven and multiplies the result by .365 cents. So if you drove 8,000 miles, your car expense is 8,000 x .365, or $2,920.
For most remodelers, standard-mileage accounting provides generously for all costs, and it's easier to compute. Plus, you can switch back and forth from standard to actual. If, on the other hand, you start with actual, you must stick with that method. You might choose actual if you drive an expensive car with high depreciation costs. --Howard Scott is a business writer and small-business tax preparer in Pembroke, Mass.