One thing that could have helped a bit – keeping a better mileage log. Thus far, I’ve just been hanging onto receipts and tallying them all up into a spreadsheet at the end of each calendar year. From the list of receipts, I can then enter mileage to each store or supplier, and add up my mileage from there.
However, I know there are a lot of trips that go unaccounted for. For example, when I was installing a new light in the upstairs living room, I made trips to both Home Depot and Lowes to find the most attractive light fixture at the best price. With my current system, I’m only getting credit for the trip where I actually made the purchase.
Another argument for keeping an actual, current log — the IRS requires you to. If I’m audited, I need to have a mileage log to show my duplex-related trips.
So, this year I’ve vowed to be more organized. I have a spreadsheet on google documents where I’ll log all of my duplex-related trips, recording the date, destination, whether it’s for the rental unit or the whole duplex, and any special notes. For the sake of simplicity, I’m also keeping track of business mileage on the same sheet – I’ll sort it out at the end of the year. The nice thing about google documents is that I can edit the file from anywhere, and from any computer.
The trips I make are generally pretty short, so we’re not talking about serious cash here, but at 48.5 cents a mile, that added up to about $75 off my taxable income last year – and it could likely have been more if I’d been more organized.