Contractors’ Questions: How to keep a hassle-free mileage log?

Contractor’s Question: I plan to keep a mileage log, as recommended, but how detailed should it be, and how often would I have to update it? Do you have any other tips for keeping the log? I’m looking to draw it up on an Excel spreadsheet.

Expert’s Answer: When a person is claiming a mileage allowance they are, as such, not required to keep details of receipts for petrol/servicing. But that comes with a warning because, in the event that HM Revenue & Customs doubt the claim, such records will obviously help support the claim, assuming it is genuine and the receipts are too!

Slightly unhelpfully, HMRC does not prescribe the method of recording mileage. So what one might call a mileage "log" to record mileage could equally be a mileage diary, timesheet or spreadsheet.

As a term ‘log,’ perhaps, slightly overdoes it because it isn't necessary to record every journey in detail. For example, if you go to the same workplace every day for 6 months, you don't have to record times in and out every day. Yes, you need to record the mileage but if it is the same miles every day, you do not have to record it on a daily basis. So a tick for a ‘working day’ in a diary would also suffice, and maybe "hol" (for holiday) written across that day if it was a non-working/driving day. 

As a result, and to answer to your final point, an excel spreadsheet in basic format would indeed suffice, but I recommend that alongside it you also keep documentary evidence in support of the mileage.

The expert was Bob, the retired tax inspector. 

Thursday 29th September 2011