To learn how to save on fuel, watch this Fuel Rewards® video about their program. It’s free to join, and the more you drive each week, the more you’ll save — either 3¢, 5¢, or 7¢/gallon, based on the Accelerate status you’ve reached by giving rides. Better yet, they’ll mail you a Lyft rewards card to use at the pump, no credit card needed.
After recently announcing our new charitable program, Round Up & Donate, we polled our driver community to see which cause you’d be interested in supporting, and many of you suggested our country’s veterans.
We’re excited to share that our first partner is the USO, chosen in honor of Military Appreciation Month, the 10% of Lyft drivers who are veterans, and the 26% of drivers who have a family member who's served or is currently serving in the military. For over 75 years, the USO has helped strengthen and support our service members both at home and abroad.
Round Up & Donate will go live this Monday, and passengers can opt in under ‘Settings’ in the Lyft app. Shout-out to everyone who suggested organizations that benefit veterans, and a special thank you to those who have served, are serving, or have family in the military.
Steve, San Francisco, served in the Army
Mikeal, Bakersfield, served in the Army
Christina, Washington, D.C., served in the Army
Alex, San Diego, served in the Navy
More Rides, More Passengers
Round Up & Donate is a great opportunity for passengers to give back by simply requesting your rides. You can expect that it will not only increase awareness of Lyft, but ridership as well. For more details on how it works, and an example fare, check out the original post.
We’ll continue to add more causes in the coming months, and keep you updated as we do. As always, feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns.
Inspired by our deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers, these two features are designed to help create a smoother ride experience for every member of the Lyft community. As we add the finishing touches, you can opt in early.
Pre-ride texts. We’ll instruct every passenger to text you instead of call, and to follow your lead on in-car communication.
Amp ride requests. In addition to lighting up the streets, your Amp will also notify you of new requests, making them easier to spot.
By opting in, you’ll be one of the first to access each feature as they roll out in the next couple months.
This guest post comes from our friends at TurboTax Self-Employed.
The deadline to file your 2016 taxes is next week, on Tuesday, April 18. If you haven’t filed yet, you still have options. Here are few last-minute suggestions.
1. Use TurboTax Self-Employed to meet the deadline
You can use TurboTax Self-Employed to easily file electronically by the deadline. TurboTax Self-Employed asks you simple questions and fills out all the right tax forms for you to maximize your tax deductions. It also offers priority access to credentialed experts so you can get live one-on-one answers.
To get started and save $20, head to the Driver Dashboard for a summary of your last year’s income, along with links to any 1099 forms that you qualified for. Remember, you’ll only get a 1099 if you met the minimum reporting thresholds ($600 in earnings and 200 rides for a 1099-K, and $600 in bonuses for the 1099-MISC). Even if you don’t receive a form, you’re still required to report your income to the IRS.
2. Be careful, and proofread
The biggest problem with filing at the last minute is the possibility of making an error that delays the processing of your return and refund, if one is due. The three most common mistakes made by last-minute filers are:
- Math errors (easily prevented with a calculator or tax software)
- Incorrect Social Security numbers (be sure to proofread)
- Failure to sign or date the tax return
Keep in mind that if you used TurboTax last year, all of your personal data was stored and will automatically be imported if you use TurboTax again this year, reducing the chance for errors. If you use TurboTax for the first time this year, next year’s return will have all of the personal information available — you'll just need to double-check it and update it with any changes.
3. Avoid a tax audit
To claim an expense, the deduction needs to be considered ordinary and necessary for your business. This is what the IRS looks for in an audit:
- The amount
- Business justification
- Date incurred
- Category of spending
- Proof of payment
For a list of the top tax deductions for Lyft drivers, see Tax Tips for Lyft Drivers. You can also use this free Self Employed Expense Estimator to see how much you can increase your tax savings by applying your estimated self-employed business expenses.
4. File an extension and gain additional time
If you haven’t already organized all of your tax materials, you might consider filing a tax extension. You will avoid a late filing penalty and get up to six months to prepare your taxes accurately in October.
The IRS usually grants extensions automatically, and you do not have to provide a reason why you are requesting the extension. There are some requirements:
- You must file the extension request by the tax deadline (midnight on April 18 for 2016 taxes filed in 2017). Don’t worry, you can file a tax extension for free using TurboTax Easy Extension.
- You must still pay any taxes you owe on time. The extension is for filing your taxes, not for paying them. If you haven’t completed your tax return, you will have to estimate the payment amount.
- You can use the Driver Dashboard to compute your income, and then add anything you else you earned in 2016. You can use free tax estimators to estimate your taxes.
- You can also find your tax rate on the IRS tax tables and then deduct your personal exemption for a rough estimate of how much you owe.
- If you owe more than you can afford to pay, the IRS recommends filing your extension request and then calling or setting up a payment plan online.
5. Stay organized
Whether you’re filing your return or requesting an extension, keep yourself organized year-round with important documents—including receipts—by putting everything in one place. Whether it’s tracking with QuickBooks Self-Employed*, a folder system or a shoebox, having a single place to search will make the preparation of your income tax return easier. Some of the documents to include are:
- Form W-2 (if you have a full-time employer in addition to your Lyft gig). Your employer must mail the form, which shows your earnings and taxes withheld, by January 31.
- Form 1099-INT, for interest earned, such as from a savings account.
- Form 1098, Mortgage Interest Statement, which shows mortgage interest paid on a loan for your own home.
- Receipts for all purchases and payments, including those for business, healthcare, and education.
- Social Security numbers: yours, your spouses (if you are filing jointly) and all listed dependents for whom you are claiming a dependency exemption.
Remember, TurboTax Self-Employed makes it easy to prepare and file your taxes online, which is the fastest way to get your money if you’re expecting a tax refund.
*File your 2016 TurboTax Self-Employed return by 4/18/17 and receive your complimentary subscription to QuickBooks Self-Employed until 4/30/18. Activation required; e-mail address used for activation and sign in*
As a reminder, Lyft does not provide tax advice.
We know service animals can raise some questions for Lyft drivers, but they’re essential for many people. We’ve been working hard on a few updates to improve the experience for everyone in our community, including a new service animal policy that clarifies how drivers should handle these requests:
Starting April 14, 2017 , you’ll be required by the law and Lyft’s policy to accommodate service animals, even if you have an allergy, religious or cultural objections, or a fear of them.
We know this will be an adjustment for some of you, but it’s important to us to have an official policy that eliminates any gray area. At Lyft we believe access to transportation is a fundamental right — but as you’ll learn from Christella, people with service animals are too often denied rides when they need to get somewhere. Lyft drivers like you are in a unique position to change that, and help us deliver on our mission to provide safe, reliable transportation to everyone.
FAQ for Drivers
As an independent contractor, isn’t it my choice to accommodate service animals?
We created Lyft for people who love flexibility and freedom, and that’s still the case. But even independent contractors have to follow the law. For example, it’s Lyft policy and the law that you and your riders wear a seatbelt while driving for Lyft. Similarly, it’s Lyft policy and the law that you accommodate service animals.
What about Lyft Line? What if a rider in my Lyft Line has an allergy or objection to the service animal?
We do our best to educate passengers that Lyft Line is a shared ride, with high odds of riding in a closed environment with another person. Sometimes that means encountering a service animal, just like you might in an elevator, an airliner, or small office.
If a rider’s allergies or objections to the service animal are severe, the rider may ask to request a different ride. If necessary, you may cancel the non-service animal rider’s ride without penalty. If you ever have a problem as a driver — or concerns about your rating — reach out to Lyft through the Help Center and we’ll guide you through it after the ride.
What if there’s no room on a Lyft Line for a service animal?
Service animals often ride at their owners’ feet, so you shouldn’t need an extra seat. If they do, we’ve found that other passengers are understanding and will make room for them when necessary. (Note: It’s rare that a Lyft Line will be at capacity at the same time you get a request from someone with a service animal. It’s also rare that you’ll get a ride with a service animal to begin with.)
How can I tell if a service animal is a true service animal? What if a passenger is misrepresenting their dog as a service animal? Are emotional support animals included in the policy?
The good news is that cases of service-animal fraud are rare in our community and will put passengers at risk of deactivation. But if you want, you may ask two questions of riders who report their animals are service animals: (1) Is the animal required because of a disability? And (2) what work or task has the animal been trained to perform? These questions will usually prove to you that the animal in question is a service animal.
That said, we don’t want you to risk your own deactivation by guessing incorrectly. Some passengers use service animals for reasons that aren’t obvious, like epilepsy or heart conditions. Not all service animals wear tags, and they come in all shapes and sizes. For these reasons, it’s best that you accommodate animals when they’re reported to you by riders as being service animals. Contact Lyft after the ride if anything seems fishy, and we’ll investigate.
Although we encourage you to take all animals, including emotional support animals, they aren't covered under our Service Animal Policy or the law so you’re not required to accommodate them.
What if a service animal causes damage?
As you saw in the video, service animals are trained to perform work for their owner and not make a mess. If you’re worried about dog hair, keep a blanket in your trunk. If they do have an issue, contact Lyft Support after the ride and we’ll handle it.
We look forward to continuing the discussion throughout April, our first Service Animal Month at Lyft, and in the months and years to come. Thanks for taking this seriously, and being there when people need your rides the most.
Good news! Our latest Driver Dashboard update keeps you even more organized than before, making it easier for you to hit your 2017 earnings goals.
What's New in Your Dashboard
The former 'Vehicles & Docs' page is now split into two separate pages, making it easier to find what you're looking for and upload documents. Here's a closer look at the new Dashboard:
- 'Vehicles' page: This is where you go to update your insurance, registration, inspection document, and any other details related to your vehicle and/or rental.
- 'Driver Info' page: Head here if you need to edit your personal and payment details.
- New notifications: You'll get reminders on your Dashboard when any documents are about to expire, so you can avoid missing time on the road.
With these updates, you can focus more on what matters most: driving and earning more. Check out the new Dashboard today.
As you know, we have a mischievous side and aren't afraid to show it — especially when that means more eyes on your rides. Check out CNET’s coverage of Mono, the auto-hailing slip-on glove that debuted just in time for April Fool’s Day last week. It was even included in AdWeek's “Roundup of All the Best Brand Hoaxes.” (Skimmer's tip: The video is worth watching.)Read More
We’re partnered with Credit Karma Tax to connect you with an easy (and entirely free!) way to get your taxes done.
What is Credit Karma Tax?
It’s a simple online tax software that lets you file your federal and states taxes for free. They’ll never charge you to use their service, even for itemized deductions.
If you get stuck, they have a dedicated support team ready to answer your questions.
How Credit Karma Tax Works
Here’s what they offer:
● All the common forms and schedules, including 1099s. If your taxes aren’t supported, they’ll let you know
● Free state and federal filing
● The ability to file multiple 1099s
● Free filing for business expense deductions
● A simple interview format that walks you through filing sections and provides recommendations on choosing the standard mileage rate or the actual expenses method
To start filing:
Sign up for Credit Karma (if you’re not already a member).
Grab your business expenses, mileage information, and 1099 forms (if you have any).
If you have questions, they’ve got you covered with great resources (like their guide to filing a 1099 and common rideshare deductions). If you can’t find what you need on their help center, their dedicated support team is on hand to help out.
Here’s to making tax season a breeze!