If you’re a car owner, you likely pay an annual or monthly premium to keep your car insured — which is a good thing! Car insurance protects you from being financially on-the-hook for damage to your car, and it also helps protect you from paying for damage you might do to anyone else’s vehicle. Car insurance coverage also helps cover you in cases of vandalism, theft or damage to your car caused by weather.
No matter where you live in the U.S., your state has some sort of minimum car insurance requirement, which means millions car-owning of Americans pay for car insurance.
And if you’re in that sizable group, you might be wondering whether or not you can claim those car insurance payments as a tax deduction this tax season. The answer is possibly — it really depends on how you use your car. Here’s how to tell if your car insurance payments can be claimed as a tax deduction.
What is a tax deduction?
A tax deduction is an amount of money you subtract from your yearly taxable income when you file your taxes. But not everything can qualify for a deduction — there’s a wide variety of expenses that can be claimed as tax deductions, but when it comes to car insurance, claiming even part of your premiums as a deduction can be tricky.
When is your car insurance tax deductible?
The car insurance tax deductions you're eligible for depend on the details of your employment status
When you’re self-employed or a freelancer
If you work for yourself and you use your car for your business or work, it’s likely that you’ll be able to claim at least some of your car insurance premiums as a tax deduction. And that’s not all — in addition to car insurance, there are a whole bunch of other vehicle expenses you might be able to deduct as well, assuming you use your car for your work.
Other expenses you may be able to deduct include spending on:
If you consistently use your car for work-related purposes
If you’re a W2 employee in a handful of qualifying roles — like an Armed Forces reservist or a qualified performing artist — but you use your personal vehicle for any work-related purposes, or if you have to drive for work and don’t already get reimbursed by your employer, you may be able to deduct at least some of your premiums (sorry, your normal commute to and from your job doesn’t count as a business expense).
Work-related uses for your personal car might include any extra trips to pick up supplies or attend meetings, or driving to visit clients or participate in a work-related event, like a conference. You can claim many of the seem auto-related expenses as car-owners who are self-employed, provided you document how and when you used your car for business purposes.
But if you got a speeding ticket while rushing to a work function, that’s a no-go, traffic ticket fines are never tax deductible.
Is car insurance tax deductible if your car is for personal use only?
If your car is mostly for personal use, you usually can’t deduct your car insurance premiums from your taxable income. So the answer is probably no — sorry about that!
Preparing for tax season
Just remember the golden rule of getting ready for tax season — keep great records. Consult a tax professional if you have specific questions about deducting your car insurance or other auto-related expenses from your taxable income, and read more about finding the right auto insurance for you here.