Wednesday, July 6, 2011

FAQ: How is a major repair on a business vehicle deducted?

A major repair to a business vehicle is usually deductible in the year of the repair as a "maintenance and repair" cost if your business uses the actual expense method of deducting vehicle expenses. If your business vehicle is written off under the standard mileage rate method, your repair and maintenance costs are assumed to be built into that standard rate and no further deduction is allowed.

Standard mileage rate

The standard mileage rate for business use of a vehicle is 51 cents per mile for the first half of 2011 and 55.5 cents per mile for all business travel during the second half of 2011. The standard mileage rate replaces all actual expenses in determining the deductible operating business costs of a car, vans and/or trucks. If you want to use the standard mileage rate, you must use it in the first year that the vehicle is available for use in your business. If you use the standard mileage rate for the first year, you cannot deduct your repairs for that year. Then in the following years you can use the standard mileage rate or the actual expense method.

Actual cost

You can deduct the actual vehicle expenses for business purposes instead of using the standard mileage rate method. In order to use the actual expenses method, you must determine what it actually cost for the repairs attributable to the business. If you have fully depreciated your vehicle you can still claim your repair expenses.


Of course, the tax law is filled with exceptions and that includes issues relating to the deductibility of vehicle repairs and maintenance. Some ancillary points to consider:

If you receive insurance or warranty reimbursement for a repair, you cannot "double dip" and also take a deduction;

If you are rebuilding a vehicle virtually from the ground up, you may be considered to be adding to its capital value in a manner in which you might be required to deduct costs gradually as depreciation;

If you use your car for both business and personal reasons, you must divide your expenses based upon the miles driven for each purpose.

You may want to calculate your deduction for both methods to determine which one will grant you the larger deduction. If you need assistance with this matter, please feel free to give Doeren Mayhew a call and we will be glad to help.

If and only to the extent that this publication contains contributions from tax professionals who are subject to the rules of professional conduct set forth in Circular 230, as promulgated by the United States Department of the Treasury, the publisher, on behalf of those contributors, hereby states that any U.S. federal tax advice that is contained in such contributions was not intended or written to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed on the taxpayer by the Internal Revenue Service, and it cannot be used by any taxpayer for such purpose.

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