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Mileage? There’s an App for That.

January 11, 2010 · 23 comments

Despite the much ballyhooed drop in the IRS’ standard mileage rates for 2010, they’re still not bad. For 2010, the rates are:

  • 50 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 16.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations

Yes, the rates are slightly lower than last year’s rates but that’s because the cost of travel has declined (that’s a good thing, right?).

The key to taking advantage of these rates is to track your mileage. Easier said than done, right?

Dashboard.jpg That may be changing. A new app for the iPhone, automilez™, now generates mileage logs for you after each trip – no more scrambling for a pen in your car. It’s a GPS mileage logging and online log management service, so it measures your mileage for you – you just have to say what it’s for. If you use the pre-selected categories, it will even calculate the total tax deduction for the trip. The app will email you the data.

Granted, I haven’t seen it in action but it sounds pretty cool. If you’re itching to give it a try, you can do it for free. There’s no charge for the app: you can download it from the Apple store. If you don’t have an iPhone, don’t fret: automilez™ for Blackberry, Windows CE, Palm Pre and other platforms are currently in development.

If you want to add more functionality to automilez™ – or if you don’t have an iPhone – you can keep track of your mileage online using Logbook. Logbook is a web application (offered by the same company) that allows you to track and store mileage online. You can get a sense of the features by checking out the screenshot below:

Logbook.jpg

Or you can visit the web site. Logbook retails for $36 and you can buy it online.

OR you could win a copy as part of the first taxgirl giveaway of tax season (imagine trumpets something majestic blaring here)!

Matthew Walton, the owner of the company that distributes Automilez and Logbook, has agreed to giveaway two fully functional versions of Logbook, one each for two lucky taxgirl readers. It’s easy to enter. Just answer this question:

What’s the most memorable trip that you’ve ever taken for business, medical, moving or charitable purposes?

I’ll choose two winners randomly (using a number generator) out of all of the qualifying entries. Here are some more rules because, you know, I’m a lawyer and I like rules:

  • Post your comments below by 5:00p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 (you’re welcome to post outside of the time frame, too, you just won’t be considered for the giveaway). It can be as long or as short as you want. Please don’t include any personally identifying information in the comment that you don’t want made public (your AGI, address, etc.).
  • Time stamps apply whenever you leave your comment, not when your comment is approved. If your comment goes to moderation, don’t panic. A comment waiting in the queue will still qualify.
  • Offensive comments – or comments that otherwise violate my comment policy – will be deleted and will not be considered valid for purposes of the contest. Even I have standards.
  • Pingbacks and links on their own, while appreciated, don’t count. And spam clearly doesn’t count.
  • I will randomly select a winner from all of the qualified entries for each giveaway post. I’ll let you know if you’re a winner.
  • If any person declines their prize or fails to qualify, the next qualified entrant will win.
  • Only those residents of the US can qualify for the prize.
  • Enter as many times as you like – but you must post a different story or comment each time.
  • You must include your full name and your email address with your entry at registration. I won’t publish your email address, but I do need contact information for the winning entry. I respect your privacy, and I will not send you anything unrelated to your entry in this contest.

  • By entering the contest, you agree that I may post any part or all of your submission including your name as a part of the contest announcements or promotions, with the exception of your email address.

(Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation in exchange for this post, not even a free cup of coffee – there are never, ever any paid endorsements on my sites. I don’t have an interest in the company – the app just caught my eye. And no animals were harmed in the making of this post.)

I’m looking forward to reading your entries, so post away!

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Edward Adamsky January 11, 2010 at 12:19 pm

I recently drove to Jersey City, New Jersey for an Elder Law conference. The trip was annoying because the check engine light turned on not long after I headed out, so I worried about it the whole way. But, nothing went wrong, the conference was great, and I ate in some great restaurants in NYC.

2 Erica Intzekostas January 11, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Very cool, thanks for sharing this information!

3 Jennifer Bahr January 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

I will never forget my 2001 vacation in DC. I toured the Pentagon on my last day of the vacation…which happened to be September 10th, 2001! I still have the stub from my tour.

4 garrett spangler January 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

sounds like a cool app! my iphone travels everywhere with me, i only wish i had it (along with an app like this) when i went to a clinical investigators meeting years ago. i paid cash for everything and lost track of my receipts on the return trip so I had the pleasure of picking up the expenses myself!

5 J. Erb January 11, 2010 at 1:16 pm

That looks really cool – does it work on the iPod touch?

6 Raelynn Zappulla January 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I wish I knew about this in January of ’09. Doing a year’s worth of mileage logs from memory and expense reports is a total drag.

7 Kaitlin Janusz January 11, 2010 at 3:13 pm

After I finished law school in Wisconsin, I got a job in San Francisco. I sold my car, and drove out with a friend who was moving to LA. I left my boyfriend, our cats, and all our stuff in Wisconsin. In August, when he finished his engineering degree, I flew back to Wisconsin to make the drive to San Francisco a second time–this time with the boyfriend, 3 cats, and all the stuff a 2-bedroom apartment can hold.

I had sold my car, so we looked into renting a uhaul, but the cost was ridiculous. Instead, we purchased a 1988 Suburban and rented a uhaul trailer. The total cost was several hundred dollars less than renting a uhaul truck, and we knew we could sell the Suburban when we got to California. What we hadn’t anticipated was everything that happened between Madison, WI and San Francisco.

Somewhere in Nebraska, a truck kicked up a rock and shattered our driver’s side window. It was a weekend, so we couldn’t find anyone to replace the glass. We drove sans window through Wyoming and some of Utah all the way to Salt Lake City. Once there, we dug a window out of a Suburban in a junkyard, and replaced it ourselves.

But that’s not all…

As we entered Wyoming ( at this point we were still window-less), our power steering pump blew out. The truck smoked–the fluid was burning on the engine. We realized what happened, and drove on–with a huge trailer, and no power steering (and still no window).

Just before the Utah-Nevada border, the engine started making weird noises. At this point, we had a window again, but still no power steering. What was happening was that the power steering pump was running dry (all the fluid was gone), and eventually it had burned out. It was causing the whole truck to vibrate. So we pulled out a diagram of the belts in the engine, and cut the one that worked the power steering pump. The only problem: we were entering the desert, and that belt also ran our air conditioning.

We made it to California, but we arrived hot, tired, cranky, and with no power steering, no air conditioning, and a whole lot of work to be done on the truck.

I hope this was memorable enough for the contest :)

8 John January 11, 2010 at 6:14 pm

During my 3rd year at a Big 4 (back then it was Big 8) accounting firm, I and five or six other auditors were traveling from Anchorage to Southeast Alaska to work on a municipal audit. It was an early flight and we were expecting to go right from the airport to the client’s, so we were all in business attire. Due to weather, we had to overfly our destination and overnight in Seattle. For reasons I can’t recall, once we got there we couldn’t access our checked luggage. It was a Monday night and the San Diego Chargers were in town to play the Seahawks. We had nothing to do so we cabbed it to the Kingdome, scalped tickets and watched the game in our suits. It was the first NFL game I had attended. Many of the fans wore white tape over their nose to mock Dan Fouts’ broken nose from a prior game. Best. Audit. Trip. Ever.

9 Lloyd Eldredge January 11, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Amazing as it may seem, it was to Hawaii… for 10 days… twice. Tough gig, I know, but someone had to do it! ;)

10 Bert January 12, 2010 at 11:49 am

Why isn’t tracking business miles and generating logs a standard feature of all of those dashboard GPS units? They should just have a button to start/stop business mileage tracking.

11 Bobby Huang January 12, 2010 at 1:07 pm

The most memorable move I took was after I graduated college. I moved all my stuff to a new state to start a new life. Now I’m doing the same except with less stuff and to a different state!

12 Christopher Berry January 12, 2010 at 5:38 pm

First time I went to Court. Scared, nervous, excited all at once.

13 Matt Walton January 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Hi Everyone – Feel free to shoot me any comments or questions about the logbook & mileage app. I really appreciate TaxGirl for mentioning our product. We are hoping to make the whole process of documenting mileage a simple, fast and painless process – and would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on things we should consider!

14 Beth March 31, 2011 at 12:02 am

Great review of the Automilez app! I have a list of mileage tracking apps to share as well. Check it out – http://www.bethbcpa.com/top-mileage-tracking-apps-for-your-mobile-phones/.

15 Janice November 30, 2011 at 11:49 am

Thank You Tax Girl!!!! I just started using this app. It is easy and fun. I have been looking for this for years. FYI- I am still keeping my paper logbook up to date until I have more history.

16 Lisa March 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

Thanks for the info. I’m trying to make the case for an iPhone and want to demonstrate how much time and effort it can save.

17 Adam May 6, 2013 at 11:37 am

Try this new solution http://www.taxmileage.com

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