The IRS has announced that the mileage rate for 2011 is 51 cents per mile for business miles driven. This is a slight increase over 50 cents last year and perhaps not as easy to calculate in your head.

Your law practice tip today is that you should get a mileage log book now to record your business mileage if you haven't been doing so. I am told you cannot deduct your commute from  home to work, but other miles driven for business reasons can be deductable. I am sure most lawyers record and deduct out-of-town trips, but small trips like going to the local courthouse, dropping off the deposit at the bank, going by the post office or going to the office supply store can add up over a year. You need contemporaneous records of those miles so you do not miss these shorter trips. In addition the CPA types tell me that if you are ever audited and deducted any business mileage, one of first things the auditor will do is to request your log book and, if you do not have contemporaneous records, the deduction can be disallowed, which would also generate penalities and interest.

As I was considering the concept of the paper mileage log book, I searched and learned that, yes, there is an app for that. The Tap2Track Mileage is from Intuit, the makers of TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Quicken. It can be used three ways:

  • Automatic – Calculate your mileage automatically using GPS
  • Manual – Enter or adjust trip mileage manually
  • Copy – Duplicate frequent trips and recent locations

It is not the cheapest app at $3.99, but I like the idea of using one from the makers of TurboTax. Searching will locate other apps, like MileBug at $1.99 or this free one for the Motorola Droid. I think most lawyers would appreciate one with the GPS automatic feature option. But whether you use a paper log book or an app, start the new year off right by recording your business mileage every working day this year.