March 12 2009 by Chris McGinnis
Once I finish writing this blog I promise to get all my paperwork in order to send off to my accountant.
I'm sure something else will come up and I'll end up sending it all in at the last minute. Just like last year. And the year before that.
Here are three tax tips to consider when wrapping up your returns this year:
1. Due to wide variations in fuel costs over the last year, the standard IRS deduction for business miles on your personal vehicle came in two flavors:
50.5 cents per mile for the period January 1 through June 30, 2008
58.5 cents per mile for the period July 1 through December 31, 2008
The current deduction for 2009 is 55 cents per mile, FYI.
2. If you lose receipts for meals, lodging and incidentals incurred during a business trip, don't fret--you can still get your deduction. You'll need to estimate expenses using the domestic per diem rates set by the General Services Administration for federal government travelers. The GSA publishes a very helpful chart that breaks out rates for food, lodging and incidentals in hundreds of locales across the country. Simply refer to this chart to determine the appropriate amount to deduct.
3. To simplify record keeping for meal deductions, consider the IRS's little-known "standard meal allowance." Instead of keeping track of receipts for three daily meals, you can deduct a total $39 per day for meals and incidentals. (Which means if your total meal costs come out to be less than $39, you'll come out ahead.) Here's what the IRS says: "For travel in 2008, the rate for most small localities in the United States is $39 a day from January 1 through December 31, 2008. Most major cities and many other localities in the U. S. are designated as high-cost areas, qualifying for higher standard meal allowances." These higher allowances can be found on the GSA Web site mentioned above.
(NOTE: I'm not an accountant and have obtained this information through my personal experience, interviews and the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov. As always, I advise having a professional help with your taxes.)