The IRS recently announced that the 2023 standard business mileage rate for the business use of a car, van, pickup, or panel truck. These rates apply to electric and hybrid-electric automobiles, as well as gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles.
Beginning January 1, 2023, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup or panel truck will be:
- 5 cents per mile driven for business use, up 3 cents from the midyear increase setting the rate for the second half of 2022.
- 22 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces, consistent with the increased midyear rate set for the second half of 2022.
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations; the rate is set by statute and remains unchanged from 2022.
How Rates are Calculated
The 3-cent increase from the 2022 midyear rate is somewhat surprising because gas prices are currently lower than they have been. On December 29, 2022, the national average price of a gallon of regular gas was $3.15, compared with $3.52 a month earlier and $3.28 a year earlier, according to AAA Gas Prices. However, the standard mileage rate is calculated based on all the costs involved in driving a vehicle — not just the price of gas.
The business cents-per-mile rate is adjusted annually. It’s based on an annual study commissioned by the IRS about the fixed and variable costs of operating a vehicle, including gas, maintenance, repair and depreciation. Occasionally, if there’s a substantial change in average gas prices, the IRS will change the cents-per-mile rate midyear, as it did in 2022.
Standard Rate -vs- Actual Expenses
Businesses can generally deduct the actual expenses attributable to business use of vehicles. This includes gas, oil, tires, insurance, repairs, licenses, and vehicle registration fees. In addition, you can claim a depreciation allowance for the vehicle. However, in many cases, certain limits apply to depreciation write-offs on vehicles that don’t apply to other types of business assets.
The cents-per-mile rate is beneficial if you don’t want to keep track of actual vehicle-related expenses. With this method, you don’t have to account for all your actual expenses. However, you still must record certain information, such as the mileage for each business trip, the date and the destination.
Using the cents-per-mile rate is also popular with businesses that reimburse employees for business use of their personal vehicles. These reimbursements can help attract and retain employees who drive their personal vehicles a great deal for business purposes. Why? Under current law, employees can’t deduct unreimbursed employee business expenses, such as business mileage, on their own income tax returns.
If you do use the cents-per-mile rate, keep in mind that you must comply with various rules. If you don’t comply, the reimbursements could be considered taxable wages to the employees.
Standard Rate Can’t Always be Used
There are some cases when you can’t use the cents-per-mile rate. It partly depends on how you’ve claimed deductions for the same vehicle in the past. In other situations, it depends on if the vehicle is new to your business this year or whether you want to take advantage of certain first-year depreciation tax breaks on it.
As you can see, there are many factors to consider in deciding whether to use the 2023 standard mileage rate to deduct vehicle expenses. Accurate records will ensure you get the maximum deduction when you file your 2023 return. Contact us if you have questions–we can help.