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Using Personal Vehicles For Work: What You Need to Know

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Some of us own or work for small businesses and it can’t be helped that it could require us to do more than just show up for work. You may be asked to run errands, go to meetings or other activities that are held off-site. Typically, using personal vehicles for work just require little more than gas. This should be okay if you only have to do it once in a while. But using personal vehicles for work on a regular basis for business errands, client meetings, or other commutes between company locations, will have more things that need to be considered.

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What if I use my personal vehicle for work?


  • The Insurance Aspect


If you use your vehicle for purposes other than travelling to and from work, you should be aware of any insurance requirements in order to avoid getting into problems. Commercial insurance may be necessary depending on the type of the use and the quantity of driving required. Your personal car insurance, with an exception, may be sufficient to cover light business use of your personal vehicle; but, you should never assume you are protected without first checking with your insurance company. If you're stopped over by the cops, this will assist you escape the headaches of refused claims and huge citations for insufficient insurance coverage.


Any company that permits or compels workers to use their personal vehicle for business purposes should either obtain hired and non-owned coverage separately or add it to an existing auto policy. Non-owned coverage protects vehicles owned by employees but operated on behalf of the firm, whereas hired coverage protects vehicles not owned by the company or the driver. These insurance supplements the driver's personal auto policy, which is normally activated first in the event of an accident. These insurance often insure the company solely, not the automobile or the driver, for low annual premiums.


Liability insurance for non-owned and hired vehicles covers personal injury and property damage caused by a vehicle you hire (including rented or borrowed vehicles) or by non-owned vehicles (vehicles owned by others, including vehicles owned by employees). This coverage is normally added to a business vehicle policy, but if companies don't have one, it can be added to your general liability policy. It protects a company if it is deemed legally liable as a result of an automobile accident caused by business owners or an employee while on company business in a hired or non-owned vehicle.


  • Mileage, Wear and Tear:


The amount of driving required for business purposes should be carefully considered. You are increasing the wear and tear on your vehicle as well as utilizing more fuel as you travel. This may necessitate more maintenance such as tire replacements, oil changes, and tune-ups, among other things. The majority of corporations do not pay you for any wear and tear on your vehicle that occurs while it is being utilized for business. Before deciding to use your own vehicle for professional purposes, check with your employer to determine if they reimburse for mileage as well as wear and tear.


If an employee is obliged to use their own vehicle for work-related activities, the employer is required to compensate them for vehicle expenditures under California Labor Code 2802. Commuting to and from work is not included.


An employer can pay an employee for vehicle expenses in three ways. According to the IRS standard mileage rates, the employer must compensate the employee at a rate of $0.54 per mile driven when using the Mileage Reimbursement Method. Every mile driven by the employee must be recorded and reported to their company. Fuel, maintenance, insurance, licensing, and registration, as well as all other costs related with the vehicle's operation, are covered by this reimbursement. The current mileage reimbursement guideline ranges from 50.5 cents to 58.5 cents per mile.


The second method, the Actual Expense Method is an approach for tracking the exact costs of using personal vehicles for work-related purposes. While this method is quite exact, it is less generally employed due to the difficulty and time involved in calculating it.


The Lump Sum Method is a single payment method in which an employer pays a lump sum to an employee for car expenses and does not require the employee to document kilometers driven for work-related purposes. According to California Labor Code 2802, the lump sum must cover the actual expenditures when using personal vehicles for work. You can easily do your own research for your local labor code.


When tax season comes around, most people using personal vehicles for work will choose to deduct their mileage rather than itemized expenses. If this is your first year with the vehicle, you may want to take notes and keep receipts in support of any of the three methods and then decide at the end of the year which is the best option.


  • The Liability Aspect


You will be held liable if you use your personal vehicle to transport commercial things. In some situations, it may be a good idea to insure your items while they are in transit. Even if your firm does not require insurance for you to transport the products, protecting yourself against damage or loss may be in your best interests. Anything can happen when driving, and you may wish to prevent having to replace or repair damaged or lost property.


Is it worth using personal vehicle for work?


To determine if it is worth using personal vehicles for work let us discuss the different advantages and disadvantages it entails:


If you're thinking about utilizing your car for work, there are a few benefits to consider.


Tax Benefits


Not all factors are unfavorable. Tax deductions are a benefit of driving your personal vehicle for business. You can claim a tax deduction for the number of miles you've travelled for business purposes only. Even if you live a long way from work, you can't claim car expenses for driving between home and work or vice versa. If your company compensates you for the same charges, you can't claim them on your tax return. Only claim it if you paid for it out of your own pocket.


Work-related vehicle deductions are a frequent sort of deduction that is not difficult to claim appropriately. If you travel for business throughout the day or night, drive to work-related conferences or meetings that aren't conducted at your typical place of work, or travel between two places of employment if neither is your home, you can claim car expenses.


The same is true if you drive from home to a workplace that isn't your usual place of work, then back home, or if you drive from home to a workplace that isn't your usual place of work, then back to your usual place of work or directly home. You can also claim automobile expenses if you work at multiple sites each day and must drive between them before returning home, or if you must transport bulky or heavy items or equipment to and from work and are unable to store them at work.


On a yearly basis, the IRS publishes the standard mileage rate. The amount you can deduct in 2021 is 56 cents per mile, up from 57.5 cents per mile in 2020. If you drove 4,500 miles in 2020, for example, your deduction will be $2,587.50.


You cannot deduct actual vehicle expenses such as maintenance, repairs, gas, oil changes, insurance, lease payments, and depreciation if you use the conventional mileage rate approach. These expenses are already accounted for in the IRS mileage rate. Only expenses not included in the regular mileage rate, such as interest on your vehicle's loan (prorated between business and personal use), parking fees, and tolls for work journeys, are deductible.


Another way, as mentioned, is to do the Actual Expenses method. This is based on the actual car expenses you incurred. Gas, oil changes, tires, car washes, insurance, registration fees, leasing payments, and depreciation are all included in this figure.


Travel in Comfort


For some people, learning to drive a new automobile can be difficult, and being under the strain of driving a car that isn't theirs can be stressful. So they may want to perform business-related errands in their personal vehicle rather than a company vehicle.


Traveling to work using their personal car also allows them to bring their children, partner, or other family members along. You can even drop them off on your way to work and spend quality time with them while traveling.


Disadvantages of Using Personal Vehicles for Work


Meanwhile, the disadvantages of driving for work include the following points to consider.


You may require additional insurance coverage if you use your car for business more than 50% of the time. Your auto insurer will classify your vehicle as a commercial vehicle. That implies you'll need business vehicle coverage on your insurance policy. If this is the case, using a work car or purchasing your vehicle through your business, if you own one, may be worthwhile.


You're putting extra mileage on your car. Miles are miles, whether they're personal or business-related, and vehicles have a limited lifespan. When you drive your automobile for both business and pleasure, you will put more miles on it than you would otherwise, reducing its lifespan.


Ultimately, whether you use your own vehicle for business, rent a corporate car, or buy your own vehicle as a business asset comes down to your tastes and usage. If you drive a lot for business, it's probably worth it to use a company car that's also covered by a company insurance policy. Consult your employer, accountant, and insurance company to determine the best option for you.

What vehicles qualify for tax write off?


Section 179 of the United States Internal Revenue Code allows business owners to take an immediate expenditure deduction for the acquisition of depreciable business equipment rather than capitalizing and depreciating the asset over time. If the piece of equipment is acquired or financed, and the entire purchase price is eligible for the deduction, the Section 179 deduction can be taken.


Passenger cars, heavy SUVs, trucks, and vans that are used at least 50% of the time for business-related reasons are eligible for the Section 179 tax deduction. A pool cleaning service, for example, can deduct the cost of a new pickup truck that is used to transport customers to and from their houses.


You must however be aware of the existence of the Luxury Automobile Limitation. It is a yearly limit on how much depreciation may be taken on a luxury car used for business. This sum is adjusted for inflation each year. Luxury automobile restrictions are in place to limit the type and amount of money spent on luxury vehicles by corporations for tax purposes.


Luxury cars are divided into various categories, each with its own depreciation schedule. It's crucial to note that the IRS uses the term “luxury vehicle” loosely, defining it as a vehicle with four wheels that is mostly used on public highways and has an unloaded gross weight of 6,000 pounds or less. 4 It isn't referring to a specific car model. There are also separate restrictions for big SUVs, vans, and pickup vehicles.


Whether using personal vehicles for work solely or for both personal and work purposes, think about everything it involves. Check with your insurance provider to see if there are any requirements. Check with your company to see if they have any reimbursement programs or liability insurance needs. If you intend to use the vehicle for your own business, you might be better off purchasing a vehicle that is solely for business use.


The nature of the company's activities, such as delivering goods sold directly to customers' houses, frequently recommend that the crew should be made up of employees who have their own transportation, such as a vehicle or a motorcycle. The employer, on the other hand, cannot dispose of an employee's property forcefully and without compensation.

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