What is a Mileage Log?

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Fleet management comes with a lot of paperwork—CDL licenses, training, inspections, hours of service (HOS), mileage, etc. All of this paperwork is required for compliance with regulations. However, tracking certain numbers, such as mileage, is more beneficial to your fleet than it is for any reporting agency. Your mileage does matter, in regards to calculating your CSA score, but it also matters when filing taxes and calculating tax deductions. Every business seeks opportunities for deductions. For fleets, one of the easiest deductions is mileage. To make sure you’re reporting mileage correctly your drivers should keep a mileage log. Below is everything you need to know about keeping a mileage log.

What is a Mileage Log?

A mileage log is a meticulous record of the mileage driven in each vehicle, which sounds simple enough. However, many fleet companies feel it’s adequate to record mileage every week or month, but these records would not suffice for an IRS audit. The IRS needs a clear view of your operating expenses, including mileage. To do that, you need to record mileage for every single trip. This may sound tedious, but the right tools, such as a telematics system, can help by automatically recording this data and storing it in a centralized database.

IRS Mileage Tracking Requirements

There are very few requirements for mileage tracking by the IRS for tax purposes. The priority in mileage logging is that you log the mileage of each trip, for each vehicle. The IRS does have eligibility requirements for claiming mileage such as the type of business. You also cannot claim mileage incurred during personal use of the vehicle. This can be confusing for fleet drivers that take their vehicles home each day. You have to differentiate between the miles they put on the vehicle for work and commuting miles.

Along with mileage you should also record:

  • Date of the trip
  • Trip mileage
  • Business purpose
  • Locations you drive to and from

It can be difficult to record all of this for each trip, especially for fleets. Mileage logging apps or certain fleet management software makes this task much easier.

Why Do You Need to Track Mileage?

Many businesses simply estimate the mileage they use for their business. This works well enough for many, but it opens companies up to a greater risk if they’re audited by the IRS. In the case of an audit, you need to have detailed records of your mileage. There are even lawsuits in which the taxpayer lost years of deductions due to improper record keeping of mileage (Royster vs. Commissioner).

While it may not seem likely that you’ll face an audit, know that it is possible and you may face deduction losses. Sole proprietors face a higher risk of audit due to a lack of separation between personal miles and business miles. It is one of the most commonly scrutinized deductions for businesses, and it’s better to be prepared than not.

Mileage Deductions

There are two types of deductions relating to mileage tracking: standard or actual expense deductions. The standard deduction is determined by the IRS, which was 58 cents per mile in 2019. The actual is input by the taxpayer. This would include detailed information about mileage, expenses, and records to support both.

Standard deduction

As mentioned, the standard deduction is a preset deduction. When you use this deduction, you don’t get the option to deduct other expenses such as repairs, depreciation, and registration fees. This is generally a good option for individuals that travel for business in their personal vehicles, such as Uber drivers. But for large fleets, or for fleets that don’t use their vehicles for other purposes, they may not get their full deduction from this option.

Actual expense deduction

The actual expense deduction allows you to calculate in your mileage, lease payments, fuel, registration fees, depreciation, maintenance, and more into your tax filings. With this method, you would calculate the total vehicle expenses and multiple it by the miles driven for business to find your total deduction.

What Happens if You Don’t Keep a Mileage Log?

Surprisingly, this is a common occurrence, especially among those new to using their vehicle for business. New fleets aren’t always accustomed to tracking mileage like expert drivers would be. Taking the standard deduction in these instances is generally advised. With the standard deduction, you can estimate your mileage out of your total vehicle costs.

It’s a different story for fleets with vehicles they use only for business purposes. If you didn’t log your mileage, consider taking the standard deduction and making estimates with what little evidence you have. Here are the steps you can take:

  • Start with the mileage logs you do have
  • Calculate total mileage based on receipts at the beginning and end of the year
  • Consider driving habits. If you use the same routes several times a year, estimating your mileage may be simpler.

For the future, you should use a mileage tracking app, GPS tracking device that logs Hours of Service (HOS), or a total fleet management system. A full system will not only log your HOS, but it will also log and optimize other parts of your business and store this data in a centralized database. This makes it easier to recall the data you need, when you need it.

How to Log Mileage for Taxes

An IRS audit is something that no business wants to encounter, and if your business lacks the proper documentation, you may lose years of deductions. So, while there are few actual rules about logging your mileage, there are still guidelines you should follow. To keep a mileage log book with the proper information, you need to be as strict with your recordkeeping as the IRS would be in an audit.

To reap the full benefits of an IRS mileage deductible, your records must have the following information:

  • Date of trip
  • Starting location
  • Destination
  • Trip purpose
  • Starting mileage
  • Ending mileage for each trip
  • Tolls and trip-related expenses

Many fleets like to store this information in a notebook to update by hand, or utilize an Excel spreadsheet. Options like these were the norm before the integration of fleet management software. No matter how you record this information, it’s vital that you do so for each trip and that the records are as detailed as possible. You must also keep these records for at least three years. Here’s what you need to do to accurately report your mileage to the IRS:

Determine Calculation Method

First you need to decide which calculation method you’re going to use. If you’re taking the standard deduction, then your recordkeeping doesn’t have to be as meticulous because it’s a preset deduction. Though we’d caution against being too lax with reporting because an audit could still occur with the standard deduction.

Record

At the start of the year, take odometer readings for all of your vehicles. You will need the total miles driven on your Form 2106. You should also maintain a vehicle mileage log with all of the aforementioned information. You can do this with paper or Excel sheets, but the most efficient and accurate way to do this is to use a telematics device.

Keep Receipts

In addition to details on trips and mileage, you should also store any receipts that you incur throughout your trip. You can also keep receipts for maintenance and equipment. It can be difficult to ensure you always get every receipt from your drivers and staff. However, there are solutions to this issue. A comprehensive fleet management software solution will include features such as fuel card integration. This would eliminate the need to keep all fuel receipts from each trip and vehicle since you’d be able to see these records on demand. This software stores these details in a centralized database for easy analysis and recall—vital during inspections. You should also sign up for automatic notifications and receipts wherever possible to further simplify your recordkeeping. If this isn’t possible, and you receive paper receipts, consider scanning them to a dedicated file on a central server or cloud storage.

Document Retention

You must retain your documents for at least three years in the case of an audit. It doesn’t matter how you store this data. However, if you have a large fleet and have difficulty staying organized and up to date, then telematics may be your best option. Telematics systems document mileage automatically and use cloud-based technology that can be accessed from anywhere. It can also log receipts, fuel stop locations and costs, maintenance receipts and costs, and so much more.

Fleet management software helps you stay up to date with all of your fleet’s movements. This smart software can store data for years to be used for analytics, predictive maintenance, and cost management. But fleet management software can do so much more than this. It also provides route optimization and planning, maintenance scheduling and alerts, driver behavior monitoring, engine diagnostics monitoring, and idling and utilization reporting.


Learn more about what fleet management software can do for your fleet, at Azuga.

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What is the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax?

The vehicle miles traveled tax is known by multiple names: the mileage tax, road usage charging (RUC), distance-based user fees (DBUF), vehicle miles traveled tax (VMTT), or mileage-based user fees (MBUF). It is simply a tax based on how many miles a driver travels. It is an excellent option to replace the gas tax as a means to fund the Highway Trust Fund. This fund is how our nation pays for maintaining and building infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and tunnels.  

Why Do We Need the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax?

The gas tax is an antiquated way of funding our infrastructure and has been inadequate for over a decade. It has not kept up with inflation in the last 25 years, causing it to drop in value by over 40%. In the last quarter-century, traffic has only increased as the population has grown. The wear and tear on our infrastructure worsens, but our ability to maintain it can’t keep up. 

Furthermore, electric and fuel-efficient cars pay very little, if any, gas tax. They still use the roads and contribute to their degradation, but the drivers do not help pay for their upkeep. While electric and fuel-efficient vehicles are better for the environment, it is still important that these drivers pay their fair share of taxes for the roads. 

How Would We Implement the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax? 

This tax is already in place in Oregon and Utah on an opt-in basis. Washington, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, California, Delaware, and Pennsylvania have researched road usage charging programs in their states with success. Oregon’s fully functioning road usage charging program, OReGO, is the leading example of how to implement a mileage tax nationwide. 

OReGO uses Azuga Insight to automatically track driver miles and collect revenue without any staff needed or driver intervention. Drivers simply install hardware into their OBD port and set up a wallet online. As they drive, Azuga Insight tracks their miles and removes funds automatically from the wallet. 

Participation in OReGO is optional, but drivers have the incentive of not having to pay increased registration fees based on mpg rating. Drivers who opt-in have to meet these vehicle requirements: 

  • Light-duty
  • 20 miles-per-gallon or better rating
  • Registered to an Oregon resident

OReGO has been implemented smoothly and is easy to sustain. 

Benefits of the Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax

Safer

Roads in poor condition cause 14,000 highway fatalities annually. It’s necessary for communities everywhere to obtain the funding to repair and maintain their roads. Streets all over the country are aging rapidly, and more funding in the Highway Trust Fund would help us stay on top of maintenance before more fatalities happen. 

Fairer

Most drivers will pay the same as they are currently paying under the gas tax, but all drivers will be paying instead of just some. This means that electric vehicles and fuel-efficient vehicles will contribute their fair share as well. Everyone pays for what they use, so drivers who don’t drive very much won’t have to worry about paying very much.

More Funding

Experts believe that implementing a vehicle miles traveled tax across the US would increase the Highway Trust Fund by $340 million. This would fund improvements to existing infrastructure, along with new infrastructure for areas that have grown in the past 25 years. 

Conclusion

The vehicle miles traveled tax is the most likely solution to the issue of our country’s crumbling infrastructure. It may be a long time before it is implemented across the nation, but as states pick it up, it is important to know what it is and how it will affect you. To keep up with the latest updates regarding the vehicle miles traveled tax, follow Azuga Insight’s blog.

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What is Fleet Data?

Tracking fleet data is vitally important to running a fleet in any industry. Any kind of data can be tracked, from where vehicles are, to what assets a company has on hand, to the safety of drivers and vehicles. All of this information is important for fleet managers to know to make their fleet effective and productive. What is fleet data, and how can it help fleets be more effective?

Fleet Data for Vehicle Maintenance

Keeping up with vehicle maintenance is one of the best ways to keep vehicles on the road for the long haul. With how much time fleets spend driving, wear and tear on a vehicle is inevitable, but fleet managers can reduce this by harnessing telematics and maintenance alerts. Telematics can tell managers when a vehicle has engine trouble or when a driver is being rough on the brakes or idling too much. Managers can also set up maintenance alerts so they do not have to try and remember when each vehicle needs routine maintenance. Preventative maintenance is crucial to a vehicle’s longevity and will help it stay on the road for years to come. 

Fleet Data for Safety

Any fleet’s top priority is safety. Drivers and vehicles are integral to a fleet business’s entire operation, and ensuring that they do their jobs safely is a huge part of a fleet manager’s job. Luckily fleet data can track driver behavior and determine if drivers are behaving safely behind the wheel. Telematics can track actions such as hard braking, rapid acceleration, distracted driving, and speeding. When drivers display any of these behaviors, they will receive an alert. If the behaviors continue, the system will alert the fleet manager, who can then choose to get in touch with the driver. Accidents can cost thousands of dollars, and days of lost time for businesses, so avoiding them is crucial for companies to succeed. 

Fleet Data for Asset Tracking

Asset tracking is terrific for preventing theft, but it is also ideal for fleet managers to keep track of what they have on hand in their warehouse. Often, assets and equipment sit unused in a warehouse, taking up space that something practical could be occupying. With asset data, fleet managers can determine what assets the fleet does not use and get rid of them, making room for something that will be more beneficial for the company. Furthermore, knowing what’s on hand prevents double-purchasing, which saves the company money as well. 

Conclusion

Tracking fleet data is essential for keeping a fleet productive and effective. It is all part of a fleet manager’s job. Luckily, Azuga has many tools to help with tracking fleet data. Reach out to the experts at Azuga today to find out how to get started gathering data today so that you can do the best for your fleet.


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Record of Duty Status

Each driver is required by the law to record a driver’s duty of status every 24 hours, using the structures stipulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). A record of duty status (RODS) can also be referred to as a driver’s log. It allows drivers to record details such as date, vehicle number, totals driving hours, the total number of miles driven within 24 hours, carrier’s name, a 24-hour period starting time, address, driver’s certification/signature, and remarks. 

Records can be maintained using an electronic logging device (ELD), using an FMCSA approved automatic on-board recording gadget, or even manually on a grid. Logs must be validated at all times by indicating each change in a duty status.

Exemptions to Record of Duty Status

A RODS is mandatory as part of Hours of Service (HOS) rules, which applies to commercial vehicles (CMVs). However, a few cases of short-haul carriers are exempt from maintaining records of duty status. 

Company policies may be different, but the FMCSA only expects drivers to record time and location after every stop.

Since the introduction of the ELD mandate, several motor carriers are leaning toward electronic logging devices to maintain their records of duty status automatically. Companies were given until December 16, 2019 to update automatic on-board recording devices to the latest ones, meaning there were also some exemptions to the ELD Rule.

Exemptions to RODS regulations include the following:

  • Drivers driving within a radius of 150 air-miles
  • Drivers of CMVs driving within a radius of 150 air-miles, who do not need a CDL, and at the same time operate within a radius of 150 air-miles of their daily reporting locations.

For drivers to qualify for the exemption, they must meet all the requirements stated by the regulations. Failure to meet even one of the requirements means all HOS rules apply.

Electronic Logging Devices

A driver must produce ELD records when requested by a safety official, either immediately, or within the permissible time if the motor carrier operates from more than one terminal or office. A motor carrier is supposed to retain a back-up copy of all ELD records for at least six months.

Only carriers or drivers falling under the exempted categories may use other recording methods, which may include automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) to maintain driver record of duty status.

Submitting and Retaining Driver Record of Duty Status Paper Logs

Being exempted from the ELD rule does not mean you are automatically exempted from the HOS regulations. A driver is required to submit original paper log sheets to their respective carriers within 13 days after the completion of their trips. The driver retains a copy of all RODS for the previous seven days, which must be produced on request for inspection at the time they are on duty. Drivers must also sign all hard copies of RODS.

Electronic HOS Regulations

The idea behind mandating the ELD rules was to provide accurate, consistent, and accessible methods of logging driver hours of service, and simultaneously create a safer working environment. The new measures were intended to ensure drivers took necessary breaks and rested appropriately, and to ensure they remained alert while driving. Making the switch from manual processes like logbooks to electronic hours of service tools makes it easier for businesses to keep up with the FMCSA requirements.

However, the implementation of electronic logging devices does not change the fleet manager’s responsibility to track off duty or driving hours. What it does require is that you make use of a log tracking device and software system.

Who Should Comply with ELD HOS Logging?

The HOS rules apply to drivers operating CMVs such as school buses and semi-trucks. For a vehicle to be classified as a CMV, it must fulfil the following:

  • Weigh above 10,000 pounds
  • Have a combined weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds
  • Be used for transporting 16 or more persons, including the driver, or nine or more passengers for commercial transport purposes
  • Transport goods classified as hazardous and require placards

If a vehicle meets the qualifications above, it is required by the law to comply with HOS regulations and to maintain decent hours of service log. 

Common Hours of Service Violations - And How to Fix Them

Besides ordinary traffic violations and unsafe driving, it is common among drivers to fail to comply with HOS regulations. Hours of Service compliance counts as one of the core basics of CSA, and maintaining a low score is often a result of piling frustrations.

The ability to fix problems associated with hours of service is the most crucial way to keep safety scores in check, and helps in controlling the frequency of roadside inspections.

Below are the most common violations of Hours of Service and how you can fix them.

Clerical Form Errors

When entering data manually, issues like mathematical errors, poor handwriting, the omission of essential information, and many other mistakes, may arise. These are issues that can be minimized by implementing an electronic system that automatically fills in the required data when it is needed. Tired drivers can easily leave out essential data, which could be deemed a violation of the hours of service regulations.

Not Updating Statuses

The driver record of duty status graph shown on a log must always be up to date, showing each detail of changes. Forgetting, or simply failing to update duty status is common among drivers and leads to severe roadside inspections. It is mostly due to drivers failing on their mandate to remain vigilant by changing statuses.

It is easy to fix this recurring problem with the simple touch of a screen. All drivers have to do is to indicate the time their shifts start, and to change their status to off-duty when shifts end. Electronic logbooks are designed to detect when a vehicle is stationary or in motion, and gives accurate data at all times.

No Records of Duty Status

Failing to properly maintain your RODS and not maintaining logs for seven days is a violation that can lead to hefty fines. Drivers of companies running smaller vehicles may not be aware of what is required of them, but they must check with the relevant authorities. Inspectors ask for records of the previous seven days. Therefore, drivers must not misplace any record whatsoever.

Partner with Azuga for FMCSA Compliance

Azuga works with you to deliver customized solutions for fleets and drivers. It doesn’t matter the size of your fleet, Azuga offers the right products and technology to duly maintain drivers’ records of duty status and keep you compliant with the hours of service regulations.

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