Can you deduct your car on your taxes?

As a car company, we often get customers asking us, “Can you deduct your car on your taxes?They’re not alone: Americans everywhere are starting to think through their finances as tax season approaches. But most people don’t know all the ways that their cars can have an impact on their returns, or vice versa. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips you need to know to maximize your money. 

Your taxes and your [next] car

Perhaps the most obvious way to get the most out of tax season is if you receive a refund from the government after filing your return. The average American receives about $2,900 back on their annual tax refund. Compare that to the average used car price of about $20,000, and an average 12 percent down payment of $2,400. So it’s easy to see how that extra cash windfall can literally pay for a new set of wheels. It’s no wonder why TurboTax lists replacing your car as one of the best ways to spend your tax refund. Some people also use that cash to pay for service or upgrades to their current vehicle. 

One of the hidden benefits to putting a tax return towards a car’s down payment is that you can generally either afford a more expensive car (a higher-value asset). Alternatively, you can apply more money towards the down payment, which can lower your overall loan amount and APR. Keep in mind that high-quality used cars tend to retain their value better than brand new cars, so your money will go farther if you choose to buy used. 

Moreover, if you purchased or used a car for professional purposes (for example, a van for your catering business), you can also write that off on your taxes. Here’s a full rundown of the tax considerations for business vehicles.

Other Ways to Use Your Car on Your Taxes

Even if you don’t have a refund coming your way, you can still take advantage of some vehicle-related benefits come tax season.  You can deduct sales tax on a car purchase for local and state taxes when you itemize your deductions. (Given the large price tag of a new car, that’s a lot of sales tax).

On the flip side, if you live in certain states, you can also get a huge sales tax benefit by trading in a car. Those states will let you apply your trade-in credit to the total price before tax is applied, meaning it will bring down the overall taxable amount. So you’ll end up paying much less in sales tax upfront. 

Pro tip: Run the numbers first to see what your payments and APR might be when accounting for that extra cash. Better yet, get prequalified to get an accurate estimate of your monthly payments upfront. (Shift’s prequalification tool even lets you shop based on your predicted loan terms.) That’s some savvy financial planning.

Best Road Trip Cars

From summer trips to the beach to winter drives to the mountains, you’ll want a solid car that can handle the long distance in comfort and style. We’ve scoped out the best road trip cars that make the cut in terms of price, style, comfort, and reliability. Happy exploring!

Best for: STYLE

If you don’t have to worry about lots of space for extra riders or gear in a road trip car, and coolness is a premium, these picks are classics to consider.

2012 Ford Mustang GT Premium

2014 Audi A4 Premium

2014 BMW 4 Series 435i

2015 Ford Mustang V6

Used Car Buying Checklist

Best for: TERRAIN

Looking for road trip cars that can handle any kind of weather and road? These are some of your best bets.

2016 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon


 

 

 

 

 

2016 Subaru Outback

2015 Dodge Ram 2500 Laramie

Best Road Trips in California

Best for: ROOM

If you’re traveling as a family (or friends), you’ll want to look for something that has the legroom and storage space to accommodate your gear and luggage. These roomy options check both boxes.

2018 Ford Expedition Limited

 

 

 

 

 

2012 Honda Odyssey EX-L

 

2015 Toyota Sienne LE

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Overland

 

 

2017 Audi Q7 Prestige

Best for: Fuel Efficiency

Especially if you’re planning to put in serious miles, it’s worth looking into a hybrid. Unlike most electric cars, you won’t have to worry about the battery running out, but still get the benefits of fuel economy. That can really add up on long drives.

2017 Toyota Rav4 XLE Hybrid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Chevy Malibu Hybrid
Ready to test drive (or buy) one of these sweet rides? We’ve got you covered. 

Car Buying for Women and Minorities: Survey

Today we’re releasing data collected from our National Shift Survey on consumers’ experiences with car buying and selling, as well as their opinions on everything from ridesharing to seat warmers.

Drumroll, please….

The Industry Needs a #METOO Movement
Nearly 90 percent of women have felt spoken down to, belittled, or disrespected during the car buying/repair process. Sadly, we shouldn’t be surprised. Data shows car buying is ripe with discrimination and abuse, especially for women and people of color. The status quo is unacceptable – the industry can – and must – do better.

Car Ownership is Here to Stay
We’ve been saying this one for years. The conventional wisdom is wrong about the future of car ownership. According to our data, more than 87 percent of people have no intention of getting rid of their cars for ridesharing. Which makes sense. Have you ever tried strapping a car seat in an Uber? Continue reading “Car Buying for Women and Minorities: Survey”

#IHeartShift: 5 Things People Love About Shift

When it comes to finding your perfect car, we at Shift love playing Cupid! During Valentine’s Day, we featured some of our very own happy customers who met their dream cars on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In case you missed it, we rounded them all up for you here in one post.

Curious about what it’s like to buy or sell a car with us? Just read on and get the scoop straight from the folks who went through the easy-peasy experience!

Continue reading “#IHeartShift: 5 Things People Love About Shift”

How to Pay for a Car — Everything You Need to Know

A car is the second most expensive real asset that most people have, and one of the biggest purchases most people ever make. It’s a big decision and can have a meaningful impact on your monthly budget and financial position. So, how do you pay for a car? We’ve compiled out best tips and tricks.

To finance, or not to finance?

Many of our customers choose to pay for their car with financing even if they have cash on hand — there are a few benefits to doing so.

  • Build your credit: Financing an auto loan can build credit in a few ways. Expanding your available credit and maintaining a history of on-time payments can improve your FICO score. Auto loans are a type of “installment credit,” which means they are paid in fixed installments over a fixed time period. Many lenders view installment credit more favorably than “revolving credit,” like credit cards. You can learn more about credit score basics at Transunion.
  • Build an emergency fund: Personal financial managers generally recommend keeping enough money to cover 3-6 months of living expenses in the bank or a liquid investment account to help deal with unexpected major life disruptions, such as illness or job loss. If you don’t have an emergency fund, it may make sense to prioritize your money to start one and avoid going into debt when unplanned expenses occur.
  • Get a better return on your money: Many Shift customers get low interest rates on their auto loans, starting at 2-4% for well qualified buyers. Instead of paying for the car in cash, some choose to invest that cash to try to earn a higher return. The average term of an auto loan is 5 years. Morningstar Index Performance Return shows that the annualized returns of major stock indices over the past 5 years range from almost 9% to over 18%.Morningstar Index Performance Return
    For example, Jane Smith is deciding between paying cash or financing her $20,000 car purchase at a 3% interest rate. If she chooses to invest, such as in a low-cost index fund, she could grow that $20,000 to more than $32,000 after five years (assume 10% rate of return, where 10% is the average long term return in the stock market). She would pay less than $1,600 in total interest for the loan. That leaves her with more than $10,000 because she decided to invest instead of paying in cash. Consult your investment advisor to see what makes sense for you.
  • Protect your investment without paying everything upfront: Almost half of our financing customers choose to include a vehicle protection plan or gap coverage in their loan. These plans can be a good way to protect against the unexpected costs of owning a car, from breakdowns to accidents. They can typically be included in your financing package, so you don’t have to pay the full cost up front.

Although there are many benefits to financing your vehicle, there are also things to keep in mind.

Cars and taxes: your guide to maximize your money. 

What to consider in deciding how to pay for a car

  • Budget for interest cost: Unlike the 0% APR loans you may have seen advertised for new cars, interest rates for used cars won’t be lower than 2-4%. This means you will pay some amount of money every year in interest. Check out our car loan calculator to understand the cost of interest for your loan.
  • Be aware of hidden fees: Prepayment fees, balloon payments, or other hidden fees can catch borrowers off guard. Prepayment fees, for example, are charged by some lenders if you decide to fully pay off your loan prior to a certain date. If you finance with Shift, you don’t have to worry – Shift financing does not include hidden fees.
  • Shop around: Different lenders may offer different interest rates and terms to the same borrower, so there is a benefit to shopping around. When you apply for financing with Shift, we instantly provide you with the best offer from multiple lenders, so you get the benefit of shopping around without the hassle.

If you’re still deciding how much you can afford, we’ve built a handy car loan calculator to help you find a car that works for your budget. Even if you can afford to pay in cash, financing may make sense if you have better uses for your money, as long as you pay your monthly installments in full and on time. If you decide to finance, you can easily apply today from your Buyer Dashboard or from shift.com.

Please be sure to read your loan contract for the full terms of your specific loan.

Image via Alexa Mazzarello

Wondering Where to Buy a Used Car? Try Online

From the beginning, we’ve believed that car buying should be simple and fair. No matter where or how you choose to embark on this important journey, if you’re in the market and wondering where to buy a used car, there are a few reasons to check out online marketplaces and car dealers like Vroom, Carvana, and Shift.

1. Test drives delivered to you

From day one, we’ve delivered test drives to our prospective customers because seeing a car in person, on your own terms and in your own environment, is a fundamental part of Shift’s better car buying experience.

2. No pushy sales tactics

When we get there, we won’t sell you on a car. After all, great cars at great prices sell themselves.

3. On-the-spot purchasing

Why step foot in a dealership when you can finish the entire process in under an hour, from the comfort of your own driveway?

4. Better prices

Avoiding the traditional overhead of brick-and-mortar dealerships allows us to sell cars for $2,000 less than average. See for yourself: just click “compare Shift’s price” on any vehicle description page to see how we compare to the market.

Best Road Trip Cars

5. Easy financing

Shopping for a used car is only half the battle, which is why we’ve also made it easy to get a loan. With instant decisions from a variety of lenders competing to give you a good rate, now it’s not.

6. Returns

We pride ourselves on being picky. We decline to list 40% cars we’re asked to sell, and every car we do take in must first pass a 150-point inspection. Then we include a 30 day warranty and a 7-day/200-mile return guarantee. Many online car retailers including Vroom and Carvana offer similar policies that let you shop with confidence knowing you can return if it’s not the right fit.

7. Shop & Buy From Your Phone or Laptop

You’re already a pro at shopping and navigating online, so why not leverage that for cars? All three online car retailers mentioned above offer the ability to shop for a car online, buy the one you want and have it delivered to your doorstep.

Shopping for a used car doesn’t have to be terrible. That’s why we’re obsessed with finding ways to make the process faster, better and easier for our customers.

Best Turo Cars to Rent

Okay, we admit it, we’re big fans of Turo. We’ve written about how they make flexible ownership possible and their really interesting BMWs, so before we draw the lucky winner of a dream weekend Turo rental, we thought we’d take a peek at the most notable (and bizarre cars) in their inventory.

Here are some of the best Turo cars for rent on the website.

1) 2006 Ford Escape,  Aviato Edition

Depending on your TV watching habits, this is either very exciting or very confusing. In the HBO show Silicon Valley, the character Erlich Bachman drives around the car of the company he founded called Aviato. And guess what! It’s a real car that’s totally rentable in the SF Bay Area. Incredible. Millbrae, California, $30 per day


2) 1964 Ford Mustang

There’s just something about a lovingly restored car, isn’t there? When that car is a 1964 Ford Mustang and the restoration job is this good, you may find yourself momentarily calculating how feasible it would be to drop everything, empty the bank account, rent this car, and drive around Southern California for as long as you could before some authority comes looking for you. Hubba hubba. Costa Mesa, California, $119 per day


3) McLaren MP4-12C

Once upon a time, a seller listed a McLaren MP4-12C on Shift and it was the talk of the office. And it’s easy to see why: it’s a street-legal race car. Cool, evocative name? No thanks, we’ll stick with this internal prototype number and use what we save in marketing to make this car as badass as possible. And now, you can actually rent one the next time you’re in LA. Hermosa Beach, California, $500 per day


4) 1983 Volkswagen Vanagon

In 1990, the US experienced an 8 month recession that shrunk the economy by 1.4%. History books chalk it up to the 1990 oil price shock… but we know what really happened: the wanderlust inspired by the VW Vanagon had such an impact on the American zeitgeist that it finally took its toll on the GDP. Now you know. Start your own economic contraction in this Vanagon, now available at recession-friendly prices. Seattle, Washington, $34 per day


5) 2007 Chevy Silverado 2500HD Classic

Remind us: what’s the German word for when you welcome the zombie apocalypse because you finally feel confident you’d survive it? The listing know’s what’s up: “Drive a one of a kind lifted diesel truck with 47″ tires…The truck will explain itself.” Yes, it does. Denver, Colorado, $30 per day


6) Pokémon-themed 2012 Smart Fortwo

Don’t you hate it when you’re in Hawaii and find yourself saying, “this trip is great but it’s missing a very small Pokemon car?” Us too. That’s why we were thrilled to see Fu-Kang’s Fortwo, whose depictions of Ash and your favorite Pokemon will make your trip to Oahu complete. Finally. Honolulu, Hawaii, $33 per day


7) Vintage 1947 Ford fire truck

Sure, modern firetrucks may be better at fighting fires than this 1947 Ford, but if you’re looking to add some old-timey ephemera to your parade, it’s no contest. Complete with the wooden ladders, metal firehoses, and other firefighting accoutrements, this fire engine is ready to add some pomp to your circumstance. San Diego, California, $400 per day


8) Lime-green Lamborghini Huracan

When you’re renting a super car, you’re looking to make a statement. And a statement is exactly what this lime green Huracan makes. What it lacks in subtlety, it more than makes up for in performance and wow factor. So, the next time you’re invited to the wedding of an English Premier League footballer and need some wheels to take you there, look no further. London, United Kingdom, £700 per day


9) 1931 Ford Model A Tudor Deluxe

We’re guessing this is probably the oldest car available on Turo. Most Model As have since been turned into hot rods, so to find one in this condition is pretty rare. “This is a specialty vehicle, restored to original spec” (except somehow we don’t think the stock rims in 1931 were lime green). If what you seek is new interpretation of a very old car in Plano, here you have it. Plano, Texas, $127 per day

Financing a Car: Why It Can Be So Difficult

After multiple years in the industry, customers continue to tell us that one of the biggest hurdles to buying their next set of wheels is getting a loan for it. So why exactly is financing a car so difficult?

For starters, it’s not an easy pill for financial institutions to swallow. To banks, used cars are pretty risky. The bank doesn’t have the knowhow or the time to verify that the condition of a car is worth the loan its underwriting. So, if they needed to seize a car they made a $10k loan for, only to find out it’s one breakdown away from the scrapyard, they don’t want to be left holding the bag.

Whereas banks can be relatively certain that a new car will retain a large amount of its value, there’s no such certainty with a used car.

To make a used car purchase easier, we knew we had to provide some solution to this problem. Our answer? Inspect the cars we sell to make sure they’re in great shape, and use that to forge our own relationships with banks. Then, bake a seamless financing experience right into our product.

If you’re in the market for a used car and need a loan, you’re no longer out of luck. Check out our inventory and click “Start financing” to get the process started. Happy driving!

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