How To Deduct Vehicle Depreciation on Your Taxes

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Dimitri Gedevanishvili

Marketing Manager
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As a business owner, you may be able to save money on your taxes by deducting the depreciation of your business vehicle. Vehicle depreciation is the decrease in value of your car or truck over time due to wear and tear, and it can be a significant tax write-off.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of how to deduct vehicle depreciation on your taxes. We’ll discuss the requirements for qualifying, the different depreciation methods, and how to calculate your deduction.

Qualifying for Vehicle Depreciation Deductions

To deduct vehicle depreciation on your taxes, your car or truck must meet certain requirements. First, you must use the vehicle for business purposes more than 50% of the time.

You must also be the owner of the vehicle, even if you financed the purchase. If you lease your vehicle, you may still be able to deduct your lease payments, but you cannot claim depreciation.

Related: How to Calculate Your Mileage for Taxes or Reimbursement

It’s important to distinguish between personal and business use of your vehicle. Only the miles driven for business purposes can be used to calculate your depreciation deduction.

Examples of business use include driving to meet clients, traveling to job sites, or running business errands. Commuting to and from your regular place of work is generally considered personal use and cannot be included in your depreciation calculation.

Vehicle Depreciation Deduction Calculation Methods

There are two primary methods for calculating vehicle depreciation: the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) and straight-line depreciation. The method you choose depends on factors such as when you placed the vehicle in service and whether you use the standard mileage rate or actual expenses to deduct your vehicle costs.

MACRS is the most common depreciation method and is used when you deduct your actual vehicle expenses. Under MACRS, you can depreciate your vehicle over a five-year period using a declining balance method.

Straight-line depreciation, on the other hand, is typically used when you opt for the standard mileage rate in the first year of using your vehicle for business. If you later switch to the actual expense method, you must continue using straight-line depreciation for the remainder of the vehicle’s useful life.

How to Calculate Vehicle Depreciation

To calculate your vehicle depreciation using the MACRS method, you’ll need to determine your vehicle’s basis, business use percentage, and placed-in-service date. The basis is typically the purchase price of your vehicle, including any sales tax, destination charges, and other fees.

Once you have this information, you can use IRS Form 4562 to calculate your depreciation deduction. The form will guide you through the process of determining your depreciation percentage based on the vehicle’s classification and the year you placed it in service.

If you use the straight-line method, you’ll need to calculate your deduction by dividing your vehicle’s basis by its useful life. The useful life is usually five years for cars and trucks.

Related: Self-Employed Worker Mileage Tax Deduction Guide

It’s essential to keep accurate records of your vehicle’s business use, including mileage logs and receipts for any vehicle-related expenses. These records will help you determine your business use percentage and support your depreciation deduction in case of an audit.

person driving their car as it depreciates

Vehicle Depreciation Deduction Limits and Special Rules

When claiming vehicle depreciation, it’s important to be aware of any limits or special rules that may apply. For example, the IRS imposes depreciation limits on luxury vehicles, which are cars with a purchase price above a certain threshold.

These limits can reduce your depreciation deduction in the first year and subsequent years of ownership. The specific limits vary depending on the year you placed the vehicle in service and are adjusted annually for inflation.

Another special rule to consider is the Section 179 deduction, which allows you to deduct a portion of your vehicle’s cost in the first year of ownership. This deduction is subject to certain limits and is only available if you use your vehicle more than 50% for business purposes.

If you qualify for the Section 179 deduction, you can claim it in addition to your regular depreciation deduction. However, the total amount you deduct cannot exceed your business income for the year.

Related: How Is The Standard IRS Mileage Rate Determined? | IRS Mileage Rate Breakdown Explained

Vehicle Depreciation Recordkeeping and Documentation Requirements

To claim vehicle depreciation on your taxes, you must maintain accurate records and documentation. This includes keeping a mileage log that tracks your business and personal use of the vehicle, as well as receipts for all vehicle-related expenses.

Your mileage log should include the date of each trip, the starting and ending odometer readings, the purpose of the trip, and the total miles driven. You can use a physical logbook or a digital app to track your mileage.

In addition to your mileage log, you should keep receipts for expenses such as gas, oil changes, repairs, and insurance premiums. If you use the actual expense method to deduct your vehicle costs, these receipts will help you calculate your total expenses for the year.

It’s a good idea to keep your records and documentation organized throughout the year, rather than waiting until tax time to gather everything. This will make it easier to prepare your tax return and ensure you have the necessary support for your depreciation deduction.


Deducting vehicle depreciation on your taxes can be a significant way to save money for your business. By understanding the requirements for qualifying, choosing the appropriate depreciation method, and keeping accurate records, you can maximize your deduction and reduce your tax liability.

Remember to keep track of your business mileage, maintain receipts for all vehicle-related expenses, and be aware of any limits or special rules that may apply. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the process, don’t hesitate to seek the guidance of a tax professional.

The best way to track your mileage and other vehicle-related expenses is by using an automatic mileage tracking app like TripLog. Download TripLog on iOS or Android and start tracking your mileage today!

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