Expense this, not that: what to claim on the road

Traveling by ground transportation this year? Air travel is still the king among road warriors, but we expect more business travelers to opt to go by rail, shuttle to the job or rent a car. Gas prices are currently at an all-time low, while airfares climb higher. In short: ground transport is back in.  

  

But even if you’re just getting to the airport, there are an abundance of road expenses worth claiming on your business travel expense report. Here’s what to claim– and what to leave off:

  

Remember your mileage 

Beginning January 1, 2016, the federal mileage reimbursement rate fell to 54 cents per mile for business miles driven, down from 57.5 cents for 2015. Regardless, short trips to the airport and long drives to business meetings will add up – and it's required to track and claim them on your expense report. 

  

When to keep track 

In case you forget to write these details down, Google Maps has a convenient way to track miles. We've announced an innovative app, Trace, that is featured in Ford Motor vehicles. Keep in mind that claiming mileage with your personal vehicle doesn’t cover normal commuting to your usual place of work. But they can be claimed in these instances, according to the IRS

  

  • Driving to a business meeting away from your usual workplace 

  • Meeting clients or customers 

  • Getting from your home to a temporary workplace 

  • Getting from your regular workplace to a second workplace, for the same job or business 

Remember: you can either claim your mileage or submit gas receipts – but not both. 

  

Tolls, bridges and parking, oh my 

If you’re on a business trip that goes through a toll, over a fee bridge or requires cash to park your car – claim it. All of it. And if the toll is electronic, you’re guaranteed to get a bill in the mail later. Expense that, too, but always be sure to confirm by reviewing your company's unique travel and expense policies to remain in compliance with them. 

  

Paying a driver 

If you’re taking a taxi, a shuttle or a bus to an airport, your hotel, or a business meeting, save your receipt and expense it. Don’t forget to include cash tips in your claim – reasonable tipping is a part of doing business. 

  

Ancillary fees are back 

Rental car companies and hotels are catching on to the ancillary fee trend started by airlines – be prepared to pay for extras like a GPS system, room safes or storage space. If it’s needed for safety and security on your trip, claim the expense. If you’re spending cash re-stocking the hotel’s mini-bar, you will have topay out of pocket. 

  

Got a ticket? Pay your own way 

If you got a parking or traffic ticket on your business trip, that’s a bummer. But it’s definitely not something to include in your expense report upon your return. Other no-nos include any personal expenses, like a forgotten toothbrush or a new tie. Even if you buy them at the hotel gift shop, they don’t generally count! 

  

Welcome to a New Year, with a new resurgence in overground travel. It’s important for road warriors to claim items that add up most quickly:mileage, tolls and tips. But there are a lot of other expenses to remember on the road – consistent tracking and reporting will make the job easier. 

  

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