As Navigator staff with a ministry expense account, we can be reimbursed for the mileage put on our personal vehicles when we are using it for a ministry activity. Ministry activities include driving to man-to-man meeting, Bible studies, staff meetings, conferences, and similar events.
Current reimbursement for mileage is 58 cents per mile (an amount established by the IRS for 2019). That means over a month’s time you might put 200 miles on your car for ministry activities and can be reimbursed $116 (200 x 0.58) for using your personal car in ministry.
Many Nav staff just take that full reimbursement amount and add it to their checking account to be spent on whatever come up. I suggest another method based on the following:
A CompanyMileage analysis found that gas prices are only 30 percent of the overall cost of operating your vehicle. They analyzed costs based on an economy model, a mid-sized sedan, and an SUV, and consistently got a 30% gasoline cost. Car insurance accounted for 12 percent; licenses, registration, and taxes for 7 percent; and tires and maintenance 3 percent. A whopping 45 percent of the overall cost went toward vehicle depreciation.
Based on ComanyMileage’s statistics, I leave 30% of my ministry mileage reimbursement in my checking account for future gas purchase (or to pay toward my gasoline credit card). The other 7 percent of the reimbursement goes into a “vehicle operation” savings account (VOSA – not VISA!).
By setting aside this large chuck on money into savings each month, I slowly develop a fund that I can use later to pay other vehicle expenses. When my car registration come due, I use money from my VOSA. When I was hit by a teenage girl on a pick-up truck, I used the VOSA to pay the $500 deductible for repairs (and replaced the $500 when my insurance company recovered that amount from the girl’s insurance company). And when it’s time to buy a new car, I will have a hefty amount already saved to pay for the next car.
Associate Staff with a ministry expense account have the ability to submit monthly expense reports and be reimbursed for ministry mileage on their personal vehicles. This ability helps prevent using your own income to do ministry (robbing Peter to pay Paul). And done right, it helps you cover car expenses when they come up.
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Photo by Elizabeth Kier on Unsplash
 When driving long distances, staff should consider whether a rental car would be a better (and cheaper) option. If a trip is 300 miles, you would be reimbursed $174.00 (300 x 0.58) for using your personal vehicle. On the other hand, you could get a rental car for less then $50 per day and a tank of gas, perhaps $30. The rental car and the gas are both ministry expenses, rather than claiming the mileage on your personal car. You may often spend less on the rental car AND not add another 300 miles on your car. Be a wise steward of the financial support others provide for you!