The Top Questions our Tax Experts get During Tax Time
I’m no rockstar, but somedays I wish I were. As an IRS certified tax professional, I’ve combed through our archives to find our most popular tax questions our team receives from our members. If you don’t see yours below, let us know!
(Don't forget, the FREE Stride Tax App can help you save thousands of dollars on your tax bill and hours of tax prep time by automatically tracking your miles and expenses, surfacing money-saving deductions, and getting your forms IRS-ready. Get it today!)
What is the difference between the standard mileage deduction and actual expense method?
Can I deduct gas? What about oil changes? Repairs to my car? The fender bender I got while working? How about my car payments and insurance?
You can, but if you do, you won’t be able to claim the standard mileage deduction. Vehicle expenses such as maintenance, car payments, car insurance, depreciation, and gas fall in the category of actual car expenses. You can only deduct either actual car expenses, or your mileage.
The standard mileage rate is calculated to be inclusive of expenses like gas, insurance, repairs, etc. In fact, we've found that the majority of drivers actually get more with mileage deduction than with actual car expenses anyway.
Where is my 1099? What if I didn’t get one?
If you did not receive a 1099 from a third-party service or client, you can revisit bank statements, invoices, and any apps or billing platforms you might use (Freshbooks, PayPal, Venmo) in order to determine your income for the year.
The most important information to collect is (1) your Gross Earnings, from which you’ll subtract any (2) Deductions and Fees (on line 10 of the Schedule C).
Can Stride help me file my taxes?
While Stride doesn’t offer filing services, we’re always happy to answer general questions about taxes.
What mileage can I deduct?
You should deduct your mileage when you're actively working. For example, whenever you're online with a rideshare or delivery app, or are driving explicitly for work, your mileage is deductible. You can read more here.
Can I claim both the Standard Mileage rate and the Standard Deduction?
The Standard Deduction and the Standard Mileage deduction are not mutually exclusive, as they are claimed on different places in your tax returns. The standard deduction is claimed as an alternative to itemizing personal deduction on your form 1040, while the the standard mileage deduction is used to claim vehicle expenses for your business or sole-proprietorship on your Schedule C. You can claim both!
Can I deduct clothing?
The rule of thumb based on current IRS policy is that clothing must be:
1) Required to be worn as a condition of employment, AND
2) The clothing must not suitable for everyday wear.
Protective clothing items like hardhats, reflective safety gear, protective goggles, steel toed work boots, or other required uniforms and safety equipment qualify, however items like jeans, sunglasses, dry-cleaning or dress clothes would be difficult to defend for most folks in the event of an audit.
The exception to the above rule is musicians, entertainers and performers, who are allowed to deduct the maintenance of costumes as a business expense. Nobody wants to see Elvis in his sweatpants, after all.
Can I deduct my meals when I’m working?
Most days, for most self-employed workers, the answer is no.
However, meals are 50% deductible if you meet one of these requirements:
1) if you're driving out of town for business, and it would be unreasonable for you to provide food for yourself from home. In this case your trip must be long enough to require rest in some sort of lodgings such as a hotel.
2) if you're sharing a meal with a client or potential referral
3) if you drive for an abnormally long day (>12 hours) in which you're unable to provide food for yourself
Can I deduct traffic and parking tickets?
No. Sorry, I wish I could too!