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Simplifying Mileage Reporting For Accounting And Tax Clients

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On a recent Practice Builder Publishing brainstormig call, one of our members disclosed that he was becoming certified as a Quickbooks Online Pro Advisor. Among the features he described being a part of QBO was a mileage tracking app for the clients phone that used GPS to automatically log a users mileage into their mileage expense logs.

On its website, Intuit has this to say about their new mileage tracker app: ‘the new automatic mileage tracking feature that eliminates the need to manually enter data about every mile driven. Instead, every trip is automatically tracked, and users simply need to swipe to see the deductions they’ve earned.’

With so many small businesses having owners and employees smartphone become the hub for all their business related activities, the development of dedicated apps is becoming more and more of a boon to accountants and tax preparers, on everything from expense reporting and reimbursement to financial statement and tax return preparation.

Now, I know that Intuit has over 90% of the small business bookkeeping market, but there are a lot of practitioners out there who just plain hate the way Quickbooks is designed, mostly because of its lack of controls on users, allowing errors to build up and require dozens to hundreds of manhours to correct.

And, there is a large body of folks who do not maintain a set of books during the year, but who nonetheless are eligible to take advantage of the mileage expense allowance, whether as an employee, or as a small Schedule C business owner.

As with most things in life, there are considerations to be made, and with smartphone mileage tracking apps, there are two main ones: cost and the apps effect on your phones battery.

For example, some of the mileage apps charge an annual fee, some charge a monthly fee. And, since the apps keep the GPS on your phone active at all times, there can be a considerable drain on your battery.

Thus, therefore, and to wit, with these considerations in mind, I, yours truly, decided what to explore the world of mileage expense tracking smartphone apps, and see if I could find something that would allow me to pick up a small referral fee, and was other than a QBO dedicated app which by itself could make it worth suggesting to your clients, for not only work related mileage expense, but for things like charitable mileage and medical mileage.

After reading through what seemed like an endless number of web pages, my search finally settled on one called TripLog (Read More Here).

TripLog offers a whole host of features, and even interfaces with your vehicles odometer through the OnBoard Diagnostics II scanner.

Here’s a list of features, from the TripLog features page.

  • AUTO START when plugged in to a power source or connected to Bluetooth devices and driving more than 5 mph.
  • Automatically stop trips when your vehicle stops and your device is disconnected from the power source.
  • The most accurate GPS vehicle mileage and location tracker.
  • Keep track of vehicle parking locations.
  • Three home screen WIDGETS which allow you to start, stop, or pause GPS tracking and monitor stats with one click.
  • Sync data between web service and mobile devices.
  • Fleet and workforce management on the web service.
  • Mark a location as a tollbooth and automatically apply tolls to trips that pass through the tollbooth.
  • Backup/restore data through device and cloud storage. Transfer data to other mobile devices.
  • Support multiple vehicles, multiple tax categories (business, medical, charity, etc.) and multiple business entities.
  • Customize measurement systems by mile or kilometer, gallon or Liter, 16 currency symbols, and 7 date formats.

TripLog pricing ranges from the Puppy Dog close (It followed me home, can I keep it?) free version, to a basic plan with enhanced reporting (including fuel economy) at $15 per year, or $1.50 per month, to the Professional at $30 per year or $3 per month, and on to the Enterprise, designed for businesses with fleet drivers, at $50 per year (per driver) or $5 per month (per driver). The enterprise version integrates expense report approval, plus integration with major accounting programs, and allows the comparison of shortest trip versus reported trip for cost control.

TripLog Ratings Tell The Story

And, from the ratings sites, I also noted that TripLog was consistently one of the highest rated apps that was available both for iOS and Android (I couldn’t find one for Windows that was rated well, so I can’t say anything about apps for that OS).

Upshot of all this is that the IRS mileage recording requirement that I used to fear, has gotten a whole lot easier to meet, and you young whippersnappers with your fancy smartphones have got it so easy, I am just plain jealous.

I think it may be time for me to look a bit deeper into some of this automation stuff and see just what advantages you do have these days.

Join us here at Practice Builder Publishing and become a part of the community, whether you become a contributing author, a peer recruiter, or merely a raving devotee of the Practice Builder Publishing resources, I'll work with you personally so you can reach the goals you set.

Best to you and yours,

kirks-sig

 

Kirk

P.S. Think I'm full of B.S.? Maybe you ought to let me know what you think. Plop your comments in the section down below the related articles and let me know what you think.!

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