Keeping a mileage log for tax purposes

I recently met with my tax accountant — early this year, as I had a hunch I would have to pay in. I’m self-employed, and have been paying taxes through payroll, but hand’t been withholding quite as many as I should have. That, and I haven’t done much work on the duplex this year, so my “loss” from the duplex venture isn’t quite as great. One thing that could have helped a bit – keeping a better mileage log.

Property taxes… and the info on the assessor’s website

I just paid my property taxes this morning. I’ve chosen not to escrow my taxes and insurance with my mortgage payment, so that I can save the money up in a bank account through the year, and earn interest on it. (5% in an Emigrant account is nothing to sneeze at). So that means that twice a year I need to log into the county assessor’s website and send a payment via e-check (of course, if I planned ahead, I could also snail-mail it). They do keep going up, though. I’ve chosen not to raise the rent on my tenants if they signed another year lease, so the increased property tax bill just cuts into my profits. At least, though, the money that I pay in property taxes is deductible (on my 1040 for my personal half, on my schedule E for my rental unit).

It’s beginning to look a lot like … time to do my taxes…

Tax benefits are one of the biggest reasons that buying a duplex is a good idea. Yes, the tax benefits of owning a duplex are pretty nice, especially that whole depreciation thing. However, the catch here is that your taxes get a LOT harder to do, once you own a duplex. I went from being an apartment dweller who filed a simple 1040EZ to having a bunch of (fairly) detailed schedules to fill out every year. And while the schedules themselves aren’t actually that hard, once you figure out what you’re doing (or find someone to pay to figure them out for you), the biggest part is something that only you can do: Keeping track of your expenses. Well. In an organized fashion. Preferably throughout the year.