By now, you’re probably well (if not painfully) aware that it’s tax season. And while you’re busy crunching numbers and tracking down receipts, you’re likely looking for every deduction possible to help maximize your refund. So can you count car insurance as one of your tax-deductible expenses? The answer of course is: it depends.
When You Can (and Should) Deduct Car Costs From Your Taxes
Let’s start with the positive side of things: scenarios in which car insurance payments can totally count as tax-deductible costs:
- If you’re self-employed and use your car for business-related purposes. Great news! If you’re self-employed and use your car for business purposes, you might just be able to deduct a portion of your insurance premium. For example, if you’re a contractor and you use your truck to carry supplies to and from job sites, you can likely write off your full insurance premium, plus the cost of other expenses like gas. The catch here is that your vehicle has to primarily be used for explicit business tasks; using it to commute to and from the office isn’t enough to justify a business expense.
- If you’re an employee and your employer doesn’t plan to reimburse you for the money you’ve spent on business uses of your vehicle. You could be eligible to write off your car costs as an employee if your job requires you to conduct business while driving or if you use your car to travel for work-related events or meetings.
In either case, here’s how to know if your car use qualifies for deductions: The costs related to your vehicle have to total more than 2% of your adjusted gross income (AGI). So, for example, if your adjusted gross income for the year is $50,000, any costs you plan to claim that are related to that vehicle (like insurance, gas, etc.) have to exceed $1,000 (i.e. 2% of $50,000).
When You Can’t (and Shouldn’t) Deduct Car Costs From Your Taxes
- Your car is for personal use only (or your business-related driving costs are less than 2% of your AGI). So if your adjusted gross income for the year is $50,000, you won’t be able to claim costs if they’re $1,000 or under.
When It’s a Maybe
- You use your vehicle for both business and personal reasons. If you’re using your car for both business and pleasure (think: Lyft or Uber drivers, for examples), you can only write off the cost of your insurance up to the proportion of time it’s used for business. So, for example, if you’re using it to work as a rideshare driver 25% of the time, and driving around town for personal reasons the other 75% of the time, you can only list 25% of the insurance premium cost on your taxes.
- Your car was stolen or deemed a “total loss” (i.e. it was damaged to the point of being permanently un-drivable). Whether your car is for personal or business use, if it’s stolen or irreparably damaged, you might be able to claim loss deductions. The stipulations:
1. You have to file a car insurance claim.
2. The accident couldn’t have been due to your negligence.
3. Your insurance company can’t reimburse the full cost of your loss (but if the damage exceeds the policy limits, you may be able to deduct the difference as well as your insurance deductible cost.
4. The costs are more than $100 and over 10% of your AGI.
Regardless of whether your car costs are deductible, it’s always a smart idea to pay only for what you need — that’s why Metromile makes so much sense for every type of driver out there. Pay-per-mile insurance costs less because it’s based on how many miles you drive. If you spend less time behind the wheel, you spend less money on insurance, period. Get your personalized quote right now and see how much you could be saving.