The IRS has released the 2017 optional standard mileage rates that employees, self-employed individuals, and other taxpayers can use to compute deductible costs of operating automobiles (including vans, pickups and panel trucks) for business, medical, moving and charitable purposes. The updated rates are effective for deductible transportation expenses paid or incurred on or after January 1, 2017, and for mileage allowances or reimbursements paid to, or transportation expenses paid or incurred by, an employee or a charitable volunteer on or after January 1, 2017.
Business mileage rate
Beginning on January 1, 2017, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car, van, pickup of panel truck used in a business is:
• 53.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (down from 54 cents in 2016);
• 17 cents per mile for medical and moving expenses (down from 19 cents in 2016); and
• 14 cents per mile for miles driven for charitable purposes (permanently set by statute at 14 cents).
• Comment. The business rate had increased by 1.5 cents in 2015 and then dropped 4 cents in 2016, while the medical and moving rates dropped slightly (by 0.5 cents) in 2015 and then more significantly by four cents in 2016. With gas prices dropping and vehicle prices holding steady in 2016, when statistics for the 2017 rates are gathered, the optional mileage rates for business expenses for 2017 dropped to their lowest levels over five years.
Comment. As an alternative to the optional mileage rates, taxpayers can use the actual expense method. Actual expenses include expenditures for gas, oil, repairs, tires, insurance, registration fees, licenses, and other qualified costs, including depreciation. Other items, however, such as parking fees and tolls may also be deductible. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate after using a depreciation method under Code Sec. 168 or after claiming the Code Sec. 179 first-year expensing deduction for that vehicle. A taxpayer also may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time.
For automobiles used for business, a taxpayer must use 23 cents per mile as the portion of the standard mileage rate treated as depreciation for 2017 for purposes of later determining any gain or loss on a subsequent sale. For prior years, these amounts are 24 cents for 2016 and 2015; 22 cents for 2014; and 23 cents for both 2012 and 2013.
To compute the allowance under a fixed and variable rate (FAVR) plan for 2017, the standard automobile cost may not exceed $27,900 for cars or $31,300 for trucks and vans (down from $28,000 for cars for 2016 but up slightly for trucks and vans from $31,000 for 2016).