Today is tax day (for those of us who file quarterly, anyway), which reminds me how important it is to keep good records in case the taxman cometh for an audit. For example, if you deduct your mileage, it's critical to have a log that meets IRS standards--meaning it includes dates, odometer readings, trip details, etc. (Here's the IRS document that provides all the details.)
The easiest way to maintain such a log is to use the gadget you always have with you: your PDA or smartphone. All it takes is a few taps to record the details of each trip. Then you can copy the log to your PC and pop it into an Excel spreadsheet for permanent storage. (Take that, IRS!) Here's a sampling of apps for various handheld devices; head to Handango, PalmGear, and PocketGear to find others.
- BlackBerry trackIT: Vehicle Edition ($24.95) tracks not only your miles, but also maintenance, repairs, fuel, and much more. You can export the data to HTML or an Excel file.
- Palm PDA or Treo Trip Deluxe ($29.95) does one thing and does it well: Records your mileage. Every time you HotSync, the data is copied back to your PC. You also get a custom Excel spreadsheet that imports the data and turns it into an audit-ready mileage report.
- Windows Mobile PDA or Phone Auto 3in1 ($17.95) goes way beyond trip tracking: It also monitors vehicle maintenance and fuel economy and produces analysis graphs right on your device. Its export options include HTML and CSV.
- Windows Mobile Smartphone SmartMileage ($14.95) was designed expressly with tax reporting in mind. It automatically adds dates to your trip entries and can even retrieve trip details from your appointment calendar.