June 26th, 2011

IRS Increases Mileage Deduction to 55.5 Cents per Mile

mileage deduction logWe know many of our readers run their own businesses. Here’s important news for small business owners, gunsmiths, and independent contractors. Effective July 1, 2011, the IRS has raised the mileage deduction for business-related travel from $0.51 to $0.555. The IRS made this unusual midyear change in response to the sharp rise in gas prices, which now exceed $4.00 per gallon. So, for business trips conducted between 7/1/2011 and 12/31/2011, you should deduct 55.5 cents per mile traveled. To qualify for this deduction, you need to keep detailed records of each trip (date, destination, purpose, mileage) and you must claim the mileage on your Schedule ‘C’ at tax time.

Effect on Employees: Even if you don’t file a Schedule ‘C’ (as a business owner), this change may affect you. USA Today explains that: “The [mileage deduction] rate is also used as a benchmark by the federal government and many businesses to reimburse their employees for mileage. Workers who receive the reimbursement don’t have to report it as income, as long as the payments don’t exceed the IRS benchmark.”

After initially saying it would not change the mileage deduction in mid-year, the IRS relented, announcing new rates on June 23, 2011, which are effective July 1st. The deductible business travel rate will rise to 55.5 cents a mile. That’s an increase of 4.5 cents from the 51 cent rate currently in effect. Also going up by 4.5 cents between July 1 and Dec. 31 of this year will be the mileage deduction for medical or moving expenses which were increased from 19 cents to 23.5 cents per mile.

mileage deduction logTAX TIP: If you deduct business-related mileage we suggest you keep a little log-book in your vehicle. Write down the date of your trip and the starting mileage. When you reach your destination, write down the ending mileage. If it is a round-trip journey, you can log the end mileage when you return — but be sure to record your destination and a few notes to explain the purpose of the trip.

There are also expense reporting Apps for smartphones that allow you to record mileage. However, be sure to back up your digital deduction logs so that they don’t get lost if your phone goes haywire or if the battery dies.

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June 26th, 2009

Ride-Sharing Makes Sense for Shooters

Sad to say, gas prices have topped $3.00 a gallon again. Many match directors have told us that, in the past 6 months, match attendance is down, particularly at regional and national events which require long drives. The main reason is fuel cost (although shortages of reloading components are to blame as well). With the price of gasoline soaring above $3.00/gallon, many shooters have decided to cut costs by attending fewer matches, or sticking to competitions closer to home.

While not traveling to a distant match will certainly save on gas (not to mention hotel bills etc.), we’d think there’s a compromise solution. We’ve observed that 95% of competitors at matches arrive solo — one to a vehicle. And, typically, most shooters drive big pick-up trucks or SUVs that may get less than 20 mpg on the freeway.

PROPOSAL: Car Pool to your next shooting match, and/or drive a vehicle with better mileage.

Whenever possible, this editor tries to “share my ride” with other shooters attending a match. I also drive an 9-year-old station wagon that gets an honest 29 mpg on the highway. Though it’s cheap to run, my vehicle has plenty of space for all the guns and gear 2 or 3 shooters would ever need.

Here is a chart showing how much you can save by carpooling and by driving a vehicle with better mileage. If you drive 5000 miles a year to shooting matches, a car getting 27 mpg will burn $349 less fuel than a vehicle getting 17 mpg. And even if you stick with your 17 mpg truck or SUV, ride-sharing with one other shooter can save you over $470 per year (if you drive 5000 miles to matches).

MPG Miles Driven Fuel Cost
@ $3.20/gallon
Ride-Share Savings
27 mpg 3000 $355.56 $177.79
22 mpg 3000 $436.36 $218.18
17 mpg 3000 $564.70 $282.35
27 mpg 5000 $592.59 $296.30
22 mpg 5000 $727.27 $363.64
17 mpg 5000 $941.18 $470.59

Toyota Venza Wagon — 29 MPG on Highway
If you want to replace an older, gas-guzzling vehicle, check out the new Toyota Venza. It’s roomy on the inside, but smaller on the outside than the typical SUV. And, with a rating of 29 mpg on the highway, it gets much better mileage than nearly any SUV or full-size truck. When we first saw the Venza TV ad we were skeptical, thinking “Yawn, just another noisy cross-over that gets 22 mpg on the highway”. However, having driven one we think Toyota has a winner. There’s tons of room in the back for gun cases and outdoor gear, and the Venza has decent ground clearance. It is much smoother and quieter than most SUVs.

Toyota Venza

Basically think of it as a lighter, more streamlined SUV that delivers a better ride and way better mileage. Front seats are very comfortable for a “full-size” American male and the back seats have lots of legroom. The Venza also looks better (sleeker) in reality than it does in photos. Base models start at about $26,000 MSRP. Engine options are a 2.7 liter, 182 hp, DOHC 16-valve four, or a 3.5-liter, 268 hp , DOHC 24-valve V6. Power is delivered through a 6-speed automatic with “intelligent shifting” and overdrive. Importantly, you can get HID (High-intensity Gas Discharge) headlights. Far superior to Halogen lights, HIDs are an important safety feature for any driver over 50. (Compared to 30-year-olds, older drivers need much more light to see well at night. That’s a scientifically-proven fact.)

Check out this Venza video review from Cars.com:

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