Self-Employed Travel Deductions: What Can You Claim?

self-employed woman traveling for a business trip

Being self-employed comes with many benefits, like making your own schedule, but it also has disadvantages, like not having someone to reimburse you for travel expenses. However, self-employed workers can deduct travel costs on their tax returns.

What can I deduct?

The IRS defines a business expense as ordinary and necessary in your trade or business. Any traveling you need to do for business meets that criteria and can be deducted as a self-employed mileage deduction.

You can always deduct for travel expenses but the extent of which depends on if you stayed overnight. Mileage can always be deducted but, in scenarios where you must stay overnight, expenses for lodging and food can be deducted as well.

Track vehicle usage

If you’re required to use your own vehicle for business, some of the expenses spent on the car can be deducted. When it comes to deducting for mileage, there are two options. The first is to apply the standard mileage rate of 53.5 cents a mile to all mileage accrued. The second is to list actual costs of gas, oil, insurance, maintenance of your vehicle, etc.

It’s important to be aware that only mileage accumulated specifically for work-related events qualifies. This is why it’s important to have detailed logs of these trips and expenses.

Deduct parking and tolls

Depending on your location, parking fees and toll roads may not be relevant. However, for those who do have to deal with them, they can add up quickly. When traveling for work, keep records of these and file them as travel expenses on your tax return.

What can I deduct beyond mileage?

Remember, the trip must require overnight accommodations to deduct more than just mileage. Therefore, it must not be in such close proximity that the engagement could happen in a workday.

As long as that’s the case, any ordinary and necessary expenses can be deducted. This includes airfare, car rentals, ride shares, subway tickets and hotel costs. You can also deduct dry-cleaning costs and the cost of transporting things like marketing materials or large displays.

You can even deduct a portion of your phone bill and internet access charges that you receive on the road. All of these expenses can be deducted 100%. The only expenses that aren’t 100% deductible are meals, which are 50% deductible.

Traveling for business and pleasure

As mentioned before, one of the advantages of being self-employed is having a flexible schedule. This means having the ability to turn a business trip into a mini-vacation easier than most.

Combining business and pleasure is certainly not forbidden but, if you’re planning to deduct the costs of a trip with both, make sure to keep detailed records to differentiate them. You must be able to prove why the trip was necessary for business and which expenses went towards that, and only that.

TaxSlayer can help

As a result of the new tax code, standard deductions have increased nearly double. This means that taxpayers who used to itemize their deductions may now benefit more from taking the standard deduction. But self-employed filers can still deduct some expenses.

Filing your taxes with TaxSlayer will make the process of entering your information and calculating your best option a breeze. All you have to do is keep good records of your travels and visit TaxSlayer.com. We’ll do the rest!

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