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What Does Mileage Reimbursement Cover?

Natasa Djalovic
Last update on:
February 19, 2024 2:36 PM
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In many professions, employees often use their personal vehicles instead of driving a company car for various business-related tasks. If your company falls into this category, establishing a comprehensive mileage reimbursement policy is not merely a matter of convenience but a necessity to ensure fair employee compensation.

Understanding mileage reimbursement rules can be complex, particularly given the absence of federal law in the United States. Yet, specific state and country regulations underline the need for thorough understanding and adherence to local laws.

This article offers a detailed answer to the common question, "What does mileage reimbursement cover?" 

We will consider the IRS guidelines, dissecting the rules and regulations for tracking mileage for work and rates that shape this aspect of business practice. 

We aim to equip you with vital information to formulate a fair and compliant employee mileage reimbursement policy, enabling you to confidently and accurately compensate your team for their business travel expenses, preferably tax-free.

Nevertheless, given the variation in state laws, it's always wise to consult a legal advisor or accountant to ensure your policy aligns with the legislation in your operating region.

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What Does Mileage Reimbursement Typically Cover?

Mileage reimbursement compensates employees who use their personal vehicles for business-related activities. 

Mileage reimbursement is essential for businesses requiring employees to use their personal vehicles for work-related tasks. It's a form of compensation that excludes the regular commute to and from work but includes additional travel for tasks like client meetings, business errands, and visits to temporary job sites.

This reimbursement typically covers the cost of operating a personal vehicle for business reasons, which encompasses a range of expenses:

  • Gas and Oil: The most immediate mileage expense, gas, is a significant part of the cost of using a personal vehicle for business purposes.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Regular upkeep necessary to keep a vehicle in working condition is also covered.
  • General Wear and Tear: This includes the costs associated with the daily use of a vehicle.
  • Vehicle Depreciation: The loss in value of the vehicle over time due to its usage.

In addition to these core expenses, some companies may choose also to cover the costs of parking fees and tolls. 

These additional business expenses can be significant, especially in urban areas or on extensive business trips involving highway travel.

Legal Considerations and IRS Rates

While there's no federal mandate for mileage reimbursement, certain states, including Illinois and Massachusetts, and as defined in California Labor Code 2802, require employers to cover these business-related vehicle expenses. 

The specifics of these state laws can vary, so employers must consult with legal advisors or accountants to understand their obligations in their respective states.

For 2024, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has set the standard mileage rates as follows:

  • 67 cents per mile for business use, up 1.5 cents from the 2023 rate.
  • 21 cents per mile for medical or moving purposes for qualified active-duty members of the Armed Forces, a decrease of 1 cent from 2023.
  • 14 cents per mile for charitable organizations, unchanged from the previous year.

These standard mileage reimbursement rates, effective January 1, 2024, are designed to cover the comprehensive costs of using a personal vehicle for business, including gas, maintenance, insurance, and vehicle depreciation.

Employers can follow these rates or set their own, but any rate above the IRS standard is considered taxable income. 

It’s important to note that not all expenses or miles driven for work are eligible for reimbursement. For example, daily commutes to and from your regular workplace aren’t usually considered reimbursable. This distinction is crucial for employers and employees to understand and set clear expectations.

Mileage Reimbursement Methods

The specifics of what is covered by mileage reimbursement can vary depending on a company’s policy. Employers can develop fair and compliant policies with an understanding of what mileage reimbursement covers.

For instance, some may reimburse at a higher per-mile rate to cover additional costs like parking and tolls, while others might adhere strictly to the IRS standard mileage rate and follow the accountable plan. They can also opt to use employee gas cards, pay car allowances, or calculate mileage deductions based on the actual expense method.

Additionally, companies can use the Fixed and Variable Rate (FAVR) reimbursement method. FAVR covers fixed costs, such as depreciation, insurance premiums, licenses, and registration fees. This method can be particularly beneficial as it allows for adjustments based on variable costs, such as fuel, oil or gas prices, and tire wear, providing employees with a more accurate and equitable reimbursement approach.

timeero mileage iphone view
Timeero tracks business mileage automatically.

Employers using Timeero can benefit from its robust mileage tracking features, ensuring they accurately record and reimburse mileage and associated expenses and maximize their tax returns. 

This clarity and transparency are vital in maintaining a fair and compliant mileage reimbursement policy. Tools like Timeero simplify tracking the total number of miles for business purposes, ensuring reimbursement accuracy and consistency.

Are Gas and Toll Expenses Included in Mileage Reimbursement?

A common issue in the "What does mileage reimbursement cover?" question is whether the compensation covers specific costs like gas and tolls. 

The short answer is yes, but let's delve into the details to provide a clearer picture.

Is Gas Included in Mileage Reimbursement?

The mileage reimbursement rate, 67 cents per mile for business use in 2024, is a composite figure meant to cover various vehicle expenses. 

This rate includes the cost of gas, which is a significant part of the expenses incurred while using a personal vehicle for business purposes. 

Therefore, when employees are reimbursed for business mileage at this standard rate, it is assumed that the cost of gas is adequately covered.

Does Mileage Reimbursement Include Tolls?

While the standard mileage rate accounts for general vehicle expenses, tolls are often treated differently. 

Tolls incurred during business-related travel can be reimbursed separately from the standard mileage rate. This means that if an employee encounters tolls while on a business trip, these costs can be claimed in addition to the mileage reimbursement.

Employers need to communicate their policy on tolls in their mileage reimbursement program.

For businesses using Timeero, tracking these becomes streamlined. The app can help log business miles accurately, ensuring employees are fairly compensated for their travel, including gas and toll costs. 

Employers can also use Timeero to track toll expenses separately, providing a comprehensive solution for managing all aspects of mileage reimbursement. 

timeero gps time clock android
Easily attach photos to timesheets

As they can attach a photo and a note to their timesheet, they can ensure the information about their toll expenses is captured and processed.

Understanding the inclusion of gas and toll expenses in mileage reimbursement helps both employers and employees maintain a transparent and fair system. With the right tools and clear policies, managing these expenses can be efficient and hassle-free.

Is Car Insurance Included in Mileage Reimbursement?

A frequent question is also whether mileage reimbursement includes the cost of car insurance. Understanding this can help employers and employees manage expectations and financial planning effectively.

The IRS standard mileage rate, set at 67 cents per mile for business use in 2024, is comprehensive. This rate is calculated to cover the gas cost and the vehicle's wear and tear, including maintenance, repairs, and, importantly, depreciation and insurance. 

When employees are reimbursed at this rate, it implicitly covers a portion of their car insurance costs, as these are considered part of the expenses of operating a vehicle for business purposes.

It’s essential to note that this does not mean employers directly pay for an employee's car insurance. Instead, the mileage rate is designed to reasonably approximate the costs associated with using a personal vehicle for work, insurance included.

Tracking these costs for businesses and employees using Timeero becomes a straightforward process. While Timeero itself doesn't separate insurance costs, the mileage tracking ensures that employees are compensated at the appropriate rate, which, as noted, includes an allocation for insurance costs.

While mileage reimbursement does not directly cover car insurance premiums, the standard mileage rate provided by the IRS considers an average cost for insurance as part of the vehicle's operating expenses. Employers should consider this when setting mileage reimbursement policies and communicating with their employees.

What is Not Covered by Mileage Reimbursement?

While understanding what mileage reimbursement covers is key, it’s equally important to recognize what it typically does not cover.

Understanding what is not covered sets clear policies and manages expectations for business owners and employees.

  • Commuting Costs. The most notable exclusion from mileage reimbursement is the daily commute. Travel from home to the regular workplace and back is generally not considered reimbursable, regardless of distance or frequency.

Let’s take John, an IT consultant, as an example. John drives 15 miles to work every day. However, his company's mileage reimbursement policy does not cover this daily commute to his regular workplace.

  • Personal Errands. Any travel during work hours that is not work-related, such as personal errands or appointments, is not eligible for mileage reimbursement.
  • Non-Business Related Travel. Trips taken outside work responsibilities, even during business hours, are typically not covered.
  • Excessive or Unnecessary Expenses. Employers may not reimburse for expenses deemed unreasonable or not essential for business operations. This could include higher-grade fuel, if not required for the vehicle, or luxury accommodations while on business travel

Setting Clear Policies

Companies must define explicitly what constitutes non-reimbursable mileage in their policies. This ensures transparency and avoids potential misunderstandings or disputes.

Employers should communicate these policies clearly to all employees, ideally during onboarding and through regular policy updates.

Streamline Mileage Reimbursement with Timeero

Timeero is recognized as a highly effective tool for businesses looking to manage mileage reimbursement efficiently. 

Its array of features caters to various needs, ensuring accuracy and compliance with IRS guidelines. Here’s a more detailed look at what Timeero offers:

Ease of Use 

Timeero is designed with the user experience in mind, making it straightforward for employees to navigate. 

timeero gps time card iphone
Just clock in to start tracking time and mileage.

Its intuitive interface reduces the learning curve, ensuring that employees can start using it with minimal training.

Automatic Mileage Tracking 

Using advanced drive detection technology, employers do not have to rely on inaccurate odometer readings and error-prone mileage logs and spreadsheets.

timeero route replay
Timeero route replay: Besides accurate mileage, Timeero captures accurate routes.

Timeero automatically logs miles as employees travel for business purposes. Once an employee clocks in and hits the road, reaching the minimum set speed, Timeero begins tracking without requiring manual input, enhancing accuracy and efficiency.

Besides their mileage, Timeero captures employees' routes and shows a breadcrumbs trail with details such as time, accuracy, and speed.

Segmented Tracking 

This feature is particularly valuable for employees who make multiple stops throughout their workday. 

Segmented tracking allows the app to calculate the miles covered between different locations automatically, accurately reflecting the travel for each work task. 

Segmented tracking feature
Segmented tracking feature

Employees only need to clock in and out once during their shifts. Timeero does all the rest. This is a game-changer for roles in sales and field services, where traditional tracking methods can be cumbersome.

For example, Sarah, a sales representative, uses Timeero for her daily travels. The app automatically tracks her trips between client locations and generates a detailed log for reimbursement, ensuring all the business-related travels are accurately recorded and compensated for,

IRS-Compliant Mileage Logs

Timeero excels in providing IRS-compliant mileage logs and tax deductions, ensuring accurate and detailed business travel reporting.

timeero irs complant mileage logs
Generate mileage reports easily.

 Key features include:

  • Precise Business Mile Tracking: Automatically records total miles driven for business, which is crucial for IRS compliance.
  • Detailed Trip Information: Captures essential trip details like start/end points, duration, and purpose.
  • Automated Accuracy: Minimizes human error, ensuring reliable and error-free mileage logs and deductions.
  • Customizable Reports: Timeero enables the creation of tailored expense reports, offering a clear overview of business mileage for analysis and reimbursement purposes.

These functionalities make Timeero an effective tool for businesses to maintain accurate, comprehensive, and compliant records of business travel mileage.

Offline Mode

Recognizing the challenges of unstable internet connectivity, Timeero's offline mode ensures that mileage tracking continues uninterrupted, even in areas with poor network coverage. 

This feature guarantees that all business travel is accounted for, regardless of the employee's location.

Suggested Mileage and Shortest Distance

timeero shortest route
Cut costs by taking the shortest route.

Timeero offers route suggestions to optimize travel efficiency. Recommending the shortest routes aids in reducing fuel costs and saving time, which is especially beneficial for roles that involve frequent travel to familiar locations.

timeero suggested mileage
Timeero lets you compare actual and shortest mileage.

Commuter Mileage Feature

This feature smartly filters out the daily commute from the reimbursable mileage. By accurately separating personal commuting from business travel, Timeero ensures that mileage logs are precise and align with IRS guidelines, avoiding non-compliance risk.

Privacy and Customer Support

Timeero prioritizes employee privacy by tracking mileage only during clocked-in hours. This feature provides peace of mind to employees, knowing that their movements outside work hours are not monitored.

Additionally, timely clock-out reminders help prevent accidental mileage tracking after work hours.

Responsive Customer Support

G2 Customer Review Timeero
G2 Customer Review

Timeero stands out for its proactive and helpful customer support. The team is readily available to assist via phone or email, ensuring any queries are promptly addressed, as evidenced by the positive feedback from users.

Best mileage tracking apps, like Timeero, are crucial in simplifying the mileage reimbursement process, ensuring accurate tracking and IRS-compliant reporting, and supporting a well-managed mileage reimbursement policy. To learn more about the benefits of the software, read our detailed Timeero review.

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AUTHOR
Natasa Djalovic

Natasa is a writer specializing in the IT and software industry with 6+ years of experience in content writing and online marketing. During that period, she wrote more than 1,000 articles and several ebooks. She majored in English language and literature and loves cats, sneakers, and candy. When she's not working, she's probably binge-watching Netflix.

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