Driving for Instacart is flexible and fun, but contract work comes with some extra costs and responsibilities. One of those is paying for gas and tracking your mileage.
If you track your mileage, you can write it off as a business expense. But you’ll need accurate tracking to do so without getting in trouble.
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Can Instacart Track Your Mileage?
Instacart doesn’t track your mileage, so you’ll need a third-party app. However, Instacart will tell you how far a customer is from the retailer. You can use that information to decide if the order is worth accepting.
Of course, the number doesn’t account for how far you are from the retailer. You’ll need to figure that out and calculate how far you drive in total.
What Instacart Tells You About an Order
Instacart will tell you the distance from the retailer to the customer before you accept an order. It won’t tell you other distance details, such as the total amount you’ll have to drive.
However, you can figure that out yourself by reviewing the location of the retailer. Then, you can get an idea of how long it will take you to get to the shop and how long the whole order might take.
Unfortunately, if you want to track your mileage, you’ll need to use another app or a manual method. But not having that feature means the Instacart app can run faster since it doesn’t have to keep track of as much data.
How to Track Your Mileage for Instacart
When you take an order for Instacart, you’ll want to track your mileage the entire time. That way, you can maximize the potential tax deduction.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should take a longer route just to save on taxes. Driving longer will also wear down your car.
So here are your two best options for mileage tracking.
Use Your Odometer
You might want to track your miles the old-fashioned way. When you accept a batch from Instacart, look at your odometer. Write down the number of miles your car is at, then complete the order as usual.
Look back at your odometer after you deliver the food, and write that number down. Grab your calculator and subtract the lower number from the higher number. Then, you can write down that number and store it in a note or with the mileage tracking for your other shifts.
Keep a record going throughout the year to help prepare for your taxes. The notes app on your phone is a good option, or you can use a pen and paper.
Use an App
A more convenient option is to use some sort of app on your phone. The app can track your location and how far you drive. Then, you won’t have to worry about doing a bunch of math every time you deliver an order for Instacart.
QuickBooks Self-Employed is a fantastic app for this. It has a mileage tracking feature, and you can use it for all of your bookkeeping and tax preparation.
You can enter your payments from Instacart and other gig apps. Add your expenses as well to help estimate how much you’ll owe in taxes.
Why Track Your Mileage
If you drive for Instacart occasionally, you might not think tracking your mileage is worth it. You probably don’t work that often for it to pay off.
However, even the most casual drivers should track their miles. Here are a couple of benefits of doing so.
Prepare for Taxes
The most significant benefit of tracking your mileage is that you can prepare for taxes. As a contractor, you can write off certain typical expenses. One of those expenses is the mileage that you put on your car.
For 2022, you can deduct 58.5 cents per mile you drive. So if you accept a batch that requires you to drive 10 miles, you’d be able to deduct $5.85.
If you drive a lot, that can add up, so you could save a lot of money on your taxes.
Compare Miles to Hours
Tracking your mileage can also come in handy when figuring out if batches are worth it. You might find there’s a large batch at a store right by you.
Consider including your time spent on the road along with your mileage. Then, you can look at how much you’re driving per hour and how much you’re spending on gas and maintenance.
If you’re driving a lot, you might not be making as much per hour as you think. Tracking all of that data can help you determine which orders are worth taking in the future.
Will Instacart Track Your Mileage?
Sadly, Instacart won’t track your mileage as a driver. All it gives you is the distance from the store to the retailer, but it’s up to you to keep track of that and your distances to the store. But you can use those records to save on taxes and decide if a batch is worth it for you.