Shoeboxed Featured on The Huffington Post!

Shoeboxed was recently featured on The Huffington Post on a list of top tools for travel writers, along with other great apps like White Noise by TM Soft and Scrivener and cool travel gear like the Olloclip. We were honored to be included on this list of must-haves for traveling writers!

Shoeboxed was recently featured on The Huffington Post on a list of top tools for travel writers, along with other great apps like White Noise by TM Soft and Scrivener and cool travel gear like the Olloclip. We were honored to be included on this list of must-haves for traveling writers!

Shoeboxed is the perfect tool for anyone who travels for business, making it easy to keep track of receipts you need to deduct or have reimbursed while you’re on the go. Check out the Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker, a free download for iOS and Android, to simplify expense tracking, and never miss a deduction again!

You can read the full article on The Huffington Post. If you travel for business, check out our Ultimate Guide to Travel Expenses to learn everything you need to know to maximize your deductions and reduce the hassle of tracking receipts while you’re on the go.

Image via Flickr

Essential Apps for Your Summer Road Trip

Before World War III breaks out in Rhonda the Honda, check out these eight free road trip apps that we promise will make your car ride more enjoyable (or as enjoyable as a family vacation can be).

Nothing ruins the anticipation of an exciting summer vacation like road trip misery.  We’ve all been there: you have grand ideas about how driving to your destination is going to help you save money, as well as bond with the fam.  Cue vision of laughing family playing car games and enjoying each other’s company.

However, 20 minutes into your eight-hour trip you realize that this is not going to be the case.  The kids are already whining that they’re hungry and bored, the driver is distracted from the commotion in the back seat, and you feel a massive headache coming on.  Before World War III breaks out in Rhonda the Honda, check out these eight free road trip apps that we promise will make your car ride more enjoyable (or as enjoyable as a family vacation can be).

1.  RoadNinja

road-ninja“Where’s the next rest area? I can’t wait!”

“I’m hungry!  I want Wendy’s!”

Quell the complaining with the RoadNinja app.  This lifesaver lets you know exactly what is coming up in exits right off of the interstate you’re traveling.  So when your kid needs to go right now or he refuses to eat any fast food except Wendy’s chicken nuggets, you’ll know you only have to listen to the crying for five more miles.

2.  HotelsByMe

You thought you were going to drive through the night, but you literally can’t take one more second in the car.  HotelsByMe lets you find hotels in your vicinity, including ratings from TripAdvisor, prices and real-time availability.  Get some shuteye at a hand-picked hotel for the night and start again fresh in the morning.

3.  RoadTrippers

Mashable called RoadTrippers the “only app you’ll need for the Great American Road Trip,” and we believe them.  A self-proclaimed mix of Mapquest and Yelp, RoadTrippers finds the most adventurous route available to get you to your destination.  Spice up the route you’ve taken a million times in search of something more exciting.

4.  OpenTable

open-table_thumbCar snacks are exciting for the first couple of hours, but after your three-year-old sticks the second Cheeto up his nose, they start to lose some appeal.    With OpenTable, you can read menus, check prices and ratings, and make a reservation at participating restaurants.

5.  BatteryGuru

Whether you forgot your charger at the last hotel or five people are fighting over one car charger, BatteryGuru will help save your battery life with smart changes to energy expense.  In the first few days, the guru learns how you interact with your smartphone and then comes up with a battery optimization plan based on your specific usage.

6.  Sky Map

starzAdd a night of camping under the stars to your road trip and this cosmic app will definitely come in handy.  You can search constellations as you see them with Sky Map’s GPS information about the stars in your location.

 

7.  Postagram

Screen Shot 2013-06-25 at 2.48.30 PMWith this free app, you can send digital postcards of your trip to friends and family anywhere in the U.S. for $.99.  Use photos from your camera roll, Instagram or Facebook and add your own personalized message!

8.  Shoeboxed

The Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker for iOS and Android is a great travel companion for your road trip (which can’t always been said for everyone else in your car).  You can track your mileage and route with the click of a button (okay, two buttons – “Start Trip” and “Stop Trip”).   The app also allows you to snap pictures of your trip receipts and upload them directly to your Shoeboxed account.

All of these apps sound like a great excuse to take a vacation to us!  Which of these apps sounds the most useful to you?

Photo credit: tripwiremagazine.com; postagramapp.com

Your Ultimate Guide to Travel Expenses

Keeping track of travel expenses and deductions can be so confusing that you may find yourself tempted to throw in the proverbial tax towel and forget the whole thing. Before it gets to that point, use our comprehensive guide to travel expenses to learn what to deduct, what to write-off and more.

What to deduct when you’re on the go (and how to keep track of it all)

Keeping track of travel expenses and deductions can be so confusing that you may find yourself tempted to throw in the proverbial tax towel and forget the whole thing.

But for small business owners, the write-offs you take while traveling can make the difference between owing money and getting a refund at the end of the year.

Our Ultimate Guide to Travel Expenses will teach you:

  • What counts as a deduction and what doesn’t

  • The portion of each expense that can be deducted (Newsflash: it’s not always 100%!)

  • How to keep track of it all and still enjoy your trip

Can I write this off?

US INCOME TAX FORMSExpenses vs. deductions

If you are going to create an expense report, submit it to your boss or partner, and be reimbursed for that expense on your next paycheck, the expense is not a deduction. It may very well end up being a deduction for the company come tax time, but since you’re not truly paying anything out of pocket, you can’t claim it as a write-off.

If, however, you are a small business owner and are paying out of pocket travel expenses for your hotel room, rental car and airfare, those expenses definitely qualify as deductions.

Local vs. out of town travel

Knowing the difference between local travel and out of town travel will help you determine how to calculate your travel expenses and write-offs.

The IRS considers travel expenses to be completely separate from the day-to-day costs incurred while running your business.

The van you bought for deliveries, the mileage accrued making said deliveries, parking fees and tolls are all considered transportation costs, even if you have to travel hundreds of miles on any given day.

So how does the IRS determine whether a write off is a transportation deduction or a travel deduction?

Easy. They want to know if you’re spending the night.

Out of town travel means that you’re far enough from home that an overnight stay in a hotel is a necessary business expense (and no, shacking up at your hometown’s nearest 5-star resort just because you feel like it does not count as a travel write-off).

Once that airfare is booked and a few nights at the Best Western San Diego seem imminent, you can begin tracking your expenses as travel deductions. The Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker makes it easy to track receipts to write-off or deduct later, and it even allows you to track your mileage!

Business vs. personal

If you’re off to a conference or event in a snazzy city like Paris or Puerto Vallarta, you may be inclined to bring your significant other, spouse or family along for the ride.

Generally speaking, unless your posse is also employed by your company, none of their travel expenses will be deductible.

Let’s say you’re going to Paris for a four-day conference and you’re bringing your husband. The plan is to attend the conference for the first four days, then gallivant around Western Europe for another 10 days.

  • Your airfare is deductible, but his is not.

  • Your hotel room is deductible, but only while you are attending the conference. The remaining 10 days are considered a personal vacation and you’re on your own.

  • 50% of the cost of your meals and entertainment is deductible, but only during the conference. If you and your husband go to dinner during the business portion of your trip, half of your meal (or 25% of the bill) can be taken as a deduction. The same rules apply if you bring additional family or children.

While your hearts may be joined, your travel expenses are not. Track your deductions exactly as you would if you were traveling alone, and make sure to keep personal vacation expenses completely separate from business expenses.

Can I write all of this off?

Just because something is a write-off doesn’t mean it’s 100% deductible. Confusing?

Think of the IRS like an airline who’s forced to put you up for the night when your flight is delayed. Sure, they’ll offer you a decent hotel room and transportation to and from the airport. But what’s up with that $15 food voucher? What are you supposed to buy with that, a Snickers bar and a bottle of water?

The IRS wants you to be well-rested, but they don’t really feel like footing the entire bill for dinner at a 5-star restaurant.

In general, you may be able to deduct up to 100% of the following business expenses while traveling:

Airfare

The cost of your airfare is up to 100% tax deductible. If you decide to take a train or a bus, that counts too. Uncle Sam will even pay for those pesky baggage fees, but see below before trying to write off those pre-flight cocktails.

Yes, you can fly first class, but be ready to prove that doing so is “regular and necessary” for your business. Extremely lavish expenses tend to raise red flags.

Internet access

If you fall victim to one of the many airports or hotels that still doesn’t offer free WiFi, fret not. That 24-hour Boingo Internet pass is a deductible travel expense, as is anything you spend in the hotel business center. If you find yourself racking up printing, faxing and copying costs while traveling, those are also 100% deductible.

Transportation costs

Once you arrive in Phoenix (or Vegas, or Tahoe), you’ll probably have to leave the airport. Your rental car, cab fare and/or public transportation costs are all 100% deductible. The same goes for any extra expenses you accrue while driving the rental car like gas and tolls.

Make sure to ask for a receipt when taking a cab!

Go ahead, give him a big fat tip.
Go ahead, give him a big tip.

Hotel room

In most cases, the cost of your accommodations are 100% deductible. If it makes sense, you can certainly choose a 4 or 5-star hotel if you don’t mind fronting the initial extra cost. Just make sure your choice falls within the realm of “regular and necessary” – the IRS doesn’t accept deductions that it deems “lavish or extravagant.”

Since one person’s “lavish” is another person’s “meh,” you have some wiggle room here. If the 5-star hotel is 30 miles from your work site and you’re not only staying there, but taking a personal helicopter to and from your digs, and you’re not Bill Gates, you might want to tone it down a notch.

Hotel expenses

You tip the bell hop, you tip the valet driver, you pick up your dry cleaning and before you know it, your hotel expenses are starting to creep up towards the total cost of the room itself.

Happily, anything that costs you money while you’re in the hotel is deductible, as long as it’s regular and necessary for a typical person in your line of work.

Tip: Since it might be a little awkward to ask the bell hop for a receipt after tipping him, just make a clear note of how much you spent on the top of a related receipt from the same day.

Meals and entertainment

50% alert! 50% alert!

When calculating travel expenses from meals and entertainment, you have moved away from 100% Write-Off World, and into the Land of Half Off.

A whole lotta eating goes on while you’re traveling, and Uncle Sam understands that it’s not particularly practical to live on microwavable pizza pockets from the hotel vending machine for a week.

You can deduct up to 50% of your meals while traveling, whether you eat alone or with business associates. Be careful when calculating dinner write-offs, however. If you happen to be staying in the home town of your old college buddy, dinner with him or her is not a deduction.

Other forms of entertainment are only deductible if you can demonstrate how they are necessary for the growth of your business. Jot down the names of potential clients and business associates on the back of your receipts before scanning them to your Shoeboxed account.

If you want to write off your tickets to Wicked, go ahead – as long as you actually work in the entertainment industry, that is.

Keeping track of it all

Phew! With all of those travel expenses to keep track of, you may want to simply throw in the towel and take the standard deduction for meals and other travel write offs.

But wait! Being your own mobile bookkeeper while traveling is a breeze thanks to receipt scanning apps and portable receipt scanners.

Shoeboxed Receipt and Mileage Tracker

Our handy app (available for iOS and Android) lets you keep track of every travel expense in the blink of an eye. Just snap a picture of each receipt and let us do the rest! Shoeboxed uploads each receipt to your account, digitizes the data for editing, and lets you recycle that paper scrap before it can begin collecting dust in your carry on.

Fujitsu ScanSnap

What if you acquire an exorbitant amount of receipts while traveling, or you have a ton of paper that needs to be digitized while you’re on the go?

The Fujitsu ScanSnap scans stacks of paper receipts and large documents in a snap! With its USB port and ability to create editable Word and Excel files, your long distance work site will feel like a home office offshoot. At just 12 ounces and 34 inches long, you’ll be able to slide the ScanSnap into your carry on and focus on what really matters – finishing that final Words with Friends move before the flight attendant makes you turn off your phone.

Now that you’re a travel expense expert, get out there are start tracking those write-offs already!

References:

1.  http://www.irs.gov/publications/p463/ch04.html

2. http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc511.html

photo credits: businesstravelalmanac.com, www.blogto.com