Logbook Templates - Yes or no?
19. Aug 2022 | By Malena Gaertner
Logbooks are a chore that employees with company cars have to fill out on a regular basis, and without a complete logbook, you're paying taxes unnecessarily.
If the logbook method is selected for the taxation of the imputed income or if a logbook must be kept due to an order, the driver can use a logbook template for this purpose. There are different logbook templates. On the Internet, you will receive numerous results such as logbook table for printing or logbook template when entering the search term. What must be listed in a logbook, what the advantages and disadvantages of the individual templates are and what alternatives there are, will be discussed in the following.
Who must keep a logbook?
If a company car is also used privately by employees, the monetary benefit must be taxed. It does not matter whether you are self-employed, freelancer or employee. You can choose between two methods for taxing the pecuniary benefit. On the one hand there is the possibility of taxing 1 percent of the gross list price of the company car or on the other hand the employees can keep a logbook. Both variants have their advantages and disadvantages. Roughly speaking, one can say that the logbook method can be particularly worthwhile for older vehicles, since the gross list price of the new car is always used with the 1 percent method, even if the vehicle is already ten years old. The disadvantage of the logbook method is the effort that has to be made to keep it. It is also important to ensure that the logbook is kept correctly so that the tax office recognizes it.
In addition, some companies also require their employees to keep a logbook in order to get an overview of the use of the vehicles, especially the pool vehicles. This shows which employee has borrowed a vehicle and for what purpose. In this way, it can also be tracked which employee may have caused damage or started an administrative offence. Furthermore, the vehicle owner can be obliged to keep a logbook in accordance with Section 31a of the Road Traffic Licensing Regulations (StVZO). This is the case if an administrative offense or a traffic violation is started and the identity of the driver is unknown. However, the vehicle owner is not given a fixed format for a logbook, but can use a sample logbook as a guide. However, it is important to ensure that the logbook IS kept properly, as otherwise there is a risk of fines.
Contents of a logbook
There are no requirements as to whether a logbook must be kept by hand or electronically. Both variants are possible as long as the regulations of the tax office regarding the proper keeping of the logbook are complied with. These regulations state that the logbook must be kept without gaps, in a timely manner and in a tamper-proof manner. In addition, trips made for business and private purposes must be clearly indicated. The logbook must be submitted to the tax office in closed form and not as a loose collection of sheets.
The following information must be included in the logbook for it to be recognized by the tax office:
- Driver name
- Vehicle registration number
- Mileage at start and end of trip
- Date of the trip and travel time
- Start address and destination address
- Reason for the trip incl. name and address of the business partner
- Categorization whether the trip was professional or private
If only the company requires its employees to keep a logbook for internal purposes, the requirements of the tax office do not have to be met and the fleet manager can create his own logbook template with the topics he would like to have documented.
Functions of the logbook
Keeping a driver's logbook essentially has the following functions. On the one hand, it serves as a submission to the tax office as proof of work-related journeys. This means that these can be claimed as business expenses and taken into account for tax savings. On the other hand, in the case of drivers, the driver's logbook can serve as proof that the prescribed break times have been observed. In both cases, it is important that the driver's logbook is kept properly, as otherwise the documentation of the journeys will not be recognized either by the tax office or by the traffic authority.
The use of a driver's logbook template helps drivers to ensure that all important information for the tax office is recorded and no data is forgotten. The structure of such driver's logbook templates is always the same. The trips made are entered one below the other. The mileage, name of the driver, etc. are then recorded in the respective columns.
There are numerous driver's logbook samples on the Internet for free download. If the driver prefers to keep a handwritten driver's logbook, there are offers from publishers with already bound books to fill out. There is also a note on whether these are suitable for submission to the tax office. Since the manipulation security is an important criterion for the recognition of the driver's logbook, no loose collection of sheets may be submitted to the tax office. Also torn out or added pages cast doubt on the credibility of a correctly kept driver's logbook.
If an error occurs during manual completion of the logbook, it must be crossed out and corrected. It must be possible for the tax office to understand which corrections have been made. Therefore, entries must not be painted over and overwritten with correction white or the logbook must not be kept in pencil or fountain pen, as corrections would then not be visible.
Instead of the handwritten variant, some companies prefer to use an electronic option. Excel spreadsheets are often used for this purpose. The advantage of an excel logbook spreadsheet for printing out is that it can be edited from any mobile device at any time. Using an excel template is easy and important values are calculated automatically by formulas that are already stored. However, there is a major disadvantage with this variant and caution is advised. An excel spreadsheet is not tamper-proof because changes can be made in the document at any time without being traceable. This means that an excel spreadsheet is not recognized by the tax office. This method is only suitable for keeping an internal logbook.
The rule that the logbook must be bound and tamper-proof applies to all logbooks. Therefore, templates advertised on the Internet such as printable logbook, printable logbook online or printable logbook table are for internal use only. The tax office does not recognize loose collections of sheets.
Instructions for keeping a handwritten logbook
To ensure that the logbook is kept correctly, the following should be observed when introducing a logbook.
The fleet manager should first prepare the logbook well and already note general information, such as the registration number or the initial mileage. It is important that a separate logbook is kept for each vehicle, so that the entries can be traced. To ensure that no entry is forgotten, the logbook should be left in the car, preferably in a visible place. The trips are documented in the logbook chronologically among themselves.
Drivers should be instructed on how to fill out the logbook correctly. To ensure that the data is entered properly, it is a good idea to include a sample logbook template. Drivers should be instructed that they must fill out the logbook at the end of the trip and, in particular, add the final mileage and the time.
In order for the fleet manager to be sure that all trips are recorded, it is best to check the logbook daily during the initial period of implementation, as subsequent changes are difficult. If it is necessary to make adjustments after all, it is important that these can be tracked by a third party.
If a driver's logbook is used for calculating the imputed income or claiming business expenses, the retention obligation is at least 10 years.
If keeping a handwritten logbook is too cumbersome for a company, there is also the option of an electronic logbook. In this case, the journeys are automatically recorded using software. When purchasing the software, it is important to ensure that it is legally compliant and suitable for the tax office. If you are unsure, you can also ask your tax advisor to check the software once. The electronic logbook for printing is enclosed with the tax return.
Once this legal certainty has been confirmed, an electronic driver's logbook has many advantages over a manually kept driver's logbook. In particular, much emphasis has been placed on the electronic driver's logbook ensuring that no entries can be forgotten.
An electronic driver's logbook works via special software in conjunction with a GPS module. When the engine is started, the driver's logbook software automatically records all trips. This provides complete documentation of the trips. In addition, the system already records important data such as the date, time, mileage as well as the distance driven by itself. This data cannot be changed even afterwards, which ensures tamper-proofness.
The driver only has to provide supplementary information such as the customer's name or reason for the trip, as well as his or her name. Since most systems are self-learning, some systems can automatically supplement the information when the trip is repeated.
Furthermore, the driver must also categorize whether it was a business or private trip. Here, too, the systems are self-learning and can classify frequently made, repetitive trips themselves.
The 7-day rule applies to the addition or modification of data and the categorization of journeys. This states that automatically recorded journeys can only be modified or details added within seven days. This applies, for example, to data such as customer names or the reason for the journey. Drivers should be sure to note this deadline in order to be reminded of it in time. In some cases, the software also includes a reminder function via e-mail or push notification so that the deadline is not missed. If changes are made during this period, this is documented by the software and a change history is recorded. The log enables changes to be tracked and manipulations to be ruled out. Once the seven-day deadline has passed, the data is write-protected.
Another advantage of the electronic logbook is that it is not prone to errors. The software inserts a large part of the entries and calculations automatically. Missing information, such as the customer name, is still marked as an empty field and the software reminds you to make the entry. In addition, the software also checks whether the information has been entered correctly.
In addition to the proper maintenance of the digital logbook, its use is also more legally secure than a manual logbook. In a logbook, sensitive personal data such as name and address are documented. This data is subject to data protection laws. With a manually maintained logbook, it is not possible to prevent other drivers from also being able to see who previously used the vehicle and for what reason. The transmission of data with an electronic logbook is done through SSL encryption. In addition, access rights in the software can be limited to individuals, which ensures the security of the data from unauthorized third parties. In addition, the software operators also comply with the statutory retention periods and keep the documentation for the ten years.
Print driver's logbook online, print driver's logbook or print driver's logbook table. There are endless results on the internet for the search term driver's logbook. If you don't deal with the subject in depth, you can get lost in the flood of available offers. The important thing is not to take just any template for the driver's logbook, but to keep the logbook in a legally secure way. This is particularly the case if the logbook is not only to be used internally, but also serves as a driver's logbook template for the tax office.
It is important, especially with a manually kept logbook, to make the entries promptly, preferably at the beginning and after the end of the trip. For drivers who tend to forget this and travel a lot by car, an electronic logbook is advantageous, as the most important entries are made automatically. This is the safest option to make sure all trips are documented accordingly.