As a Sales Rep, Can I Deduct Mileage, Gas & Meals?

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Independent sales reps can deduct business travel expenses.
Independent sales reps can deduct business travel expenses. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Sales representatives are often independent contractors instead of employees, but depending on your contract you may have an employer that reimburses your travel-related work expenses. If you have unreimbursed travel expenses, however, you can deduct many of them from your federal income tax return.

Business Travel

According to the Internal Revenue Service, if you travel outside your normal work area by 50 miles or more for business-specific purposes and need to stop and rest in order to continue with business activities, you qualify for business travel tax deductions. As a sales representative traveling to various places to meet with clients and acquire new business, there are several travel-specific deductions you can qualify for.

Mileage Deductions

A common business travel deduction is a flat rate per mile for the distance you drive your vehicle while conducting business. For the 2010 tax year, the flat rate mileage deduction is 50 cents per mile. To take the mileage deduction, you need to keep a log that tracks how many miles you travel for business-specific purposes, particularly if you also drive your vehicle for personal reasons. At the end of the year, total the number of miles driven for business and multiply by $0.50 to determine your full mileage deduction.

Gasoline Deductions

When you use your personal vehicle for work-related activities such as driving to sales calls, you can elect to deduct the cost of maintenance on your vehicle instead of taking the flat rate per mile deduction. When taking maintenance and upkeep deductions, you can deduct the expense of gasoline, oil changes, tire changes and other routine maintenance.

Meal Deductions

When you're on a business trip it is common to stop for regular meals just as you would if you were working in your home area. When traveling on business, keep all of your meal receipts and make a small note of how they are related to business activities, then at the end of the year you can deduct 50 percent of the total business meal costs.

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