Is It Better to Claim Mileage or Gas on Taxes?

As a self-employed individual or business owner, accurately tracking and deducting vehicle expenses is crucial for reducing your tax liability. The two primary methods for deducting vehicle expenses are the standard mileage rate and the actual expenses method. Understanding the differences between these methods and their respective advantages and disadvantages is essential for making an informed decision about which method to use.

Standard Mileage Rate Method


The standard mileage rate method is a simplified approach to deducting vehicle expenses. Instead of tracking individual expenses, such as gas, maintenance, and repairs, you simply multiply the number of business miles driven by the IRS-established standard mileage rate. For 2023, the standard mileage rate is 65.5 cents per mile.


  • Simplicity: The standard mileage rate method is straightforward and easy to implement. You only need to keep track of your business miles driven.
  • Convenience: You don’t need to save receipts or meticulously track individual expenses.
  • Potentially higher deduction: If you drive a significant number of business miles, the standard mileage rate may result in a larger deduction compared to the actual expenses method.


  • Inaccuracy: The standard mileage rate is a flat rate that doesn’t account for actual expenses incurred. If your actual expenses are significantly higher than the standard rate, you may be missing out on potential deductions.
  • Limited flexibility: You cannot switch to the actual expenses method in subsequent years if you choose the standard mileage rate method in the first year.

Actual Expenses Method


The actual expenses method involves tracking and deducting all actual expenses related to the business use of your vehicle. This includes gas, maintenance, repairs, insurance, depreciation, and other eligible expenses.


  • Accuracy: The actual expenses method provides a more accurate representation of your vehicle expenses, ensuring that you deduct the full amount of eligible expenses.
  • Flexibility: You can choose to use the actual expenses method in any tax year, regardless of whether you used the standard mileage rate method in previous years.
  • Potential for higher deduction: If your actual expenses are higher than the standard mileage rate, you may be able to deduct a larger amount.


  • Complexity: Tracking and documenting all actual expenses can be time-consuming and requires meticulous record-keeping.
  • Burden of proof: You must maintain receipts and other documentation to support your claimed expenses.
  • Potentially lower deduction: If your actual expenses are lower than the standard mileage rate, you may end up with a smaller deduction.

Which Method Is Better?

The best method for you depends on your individual circumstances, driving habits, and vehicle expenses.

Consider the Standard Mileage Rate Method if:

  • You drive a significant number of business miles.
  • You don’t want to track and document individual expenses.
  • You expect your actual expenses to be lower than the standard mileage rate.

Consider the Actual Expenses Method if:

  • You drive a moderate number of business miles.
  • You have significant vehicle expenses, such as major repairs or a high-value vehicle.
  • You want to maximize your deductions and have the documentation to support them.

Choosing the right method for deducting vehicle expenses is essential for optimizing your tax deductions. By understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both the standard mileage rate method and the actual expenses method, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your specific situation and tax goals.

Deducting Vehicle Expenses: The Standard Mileage Rate

Can I claim mileage on my tax return?

If you qualify, you can claim mileage or vehicle expenses on your tax return. Your choice depends on how often and how far you drive for business, medical care, or volunteer work. The IRS requires clear and concise documentation to support your claims. If you travel for work, you may be able to deduct mileage expenses from your taxes.

Can I deduct car expenses if I use the standard mileage rate?

When you use the standard mileage rate deduction, you can’t deduct individual expenses for your car. For example, if your transmission broke down and had to be replaced, you might be better off using the actual expense method to take advantage of this large expense.

Can I claim mileage & expenses at the same time?

If you want to claim gas, you must keep all your receipts. You can also claim other vehicle-related expenses, such as insurance, depreciation, lease payments, parking, toll, and repairs. You are not permitted to claim mileage and expenses at the same time. What Is the Tax Deduction for Medical Mileage and When Volunteering?

Can I claim mileage if I use my car for business?

If you use you your vehicle for business purposes, you should know that claiming mileage is one of two ways of claiming a tax benefit for car-related costs. The “actual car expense” method is the other way; it lets you claim a deduction for car insurance, deductible car repairs, among other costs.

Leave a Comment