FAQ – What are the 2016 optional standard mileage rates for automobile use?

The IRS has issued the 2016 optional standard mileage rates for calculating the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical, and moving purposes (Notice 2016-1; IR-2015-137). The decline in gas prices appeared to spur the drop in the optional rates.

The optional standard mileage rate for business will drop from 57.5 cents a mile (for 2015) to 54 cents a mile for 2016, a decrease of 3.5 cents, and the lowest rate in five years. The optional standard mileage rates for medical and moving expenses drops from 23 cents for 2015 to 19 cents per mile for 2016, a decrease of four cents and, again, the lowest rate in five years. The optional standard mileage rate for charitable expenses, which is set by statute, remains at 14 cents per mile for 2016.

Rules for use

Rev. Proc. 2010-51 provides rules for computing deductible costs of operating an automobile, including the use of the optional standard rates. The business standard mileage rate is a substitute for all the costs of an automobile for business use, including depreciation, maintenance and repairs, and gasoline.

However, 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 deduction for that vehicle. Furthermore, a taxpayer may not use the business rate for more than four vehicles at a time.

To compute the allowance under a fixed and variable rate plan, the standard automobile cost may not exceed $28,000 for cars or $31,000 for trucks and vans.

Depreciation

For automobiles used for business, a taxpayer must use 24 cents per mile as the portion of the standard mileage rate treated as depreciation for 2016. For prior years, these amounts are 24 cents for 2015, 22 cents for 2014, and 23 cents for both 2012 and 2013. These amounts are used to calculate basis reductions for depreciation taken under the standard mileage rate.

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