Since 2016, the 66-year-old has put over 410,000 miles on the automobile, greater than 90% of which got here whereas driving for Uber, he instructed Business Insider.
In a typical week, Ceran works between 50 and 60 hours. He drives between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. each weekday besides Wednesday — his off day — retains the identical schedule on Saturdays, after which works between 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Sundays. In his seven years as a driver, he is accomplished over 26,000 journeys.
“The pros are the money I earn and the people I meet along the way,” Ceran mentioned of Uber driving in Virginia. “The cons are the time it takes to keep track of all the expenses.”
These bills do extra than simply take up his time — they take a major chew out of his earnings. In 2023, Ceran had over $103,000 in gross Uber revenue, based on a tax doc considered by BI. But after Uber took its lower and his driving bills have been accounted for, his earnings fell to about $20,000.
Even so, Ceran instructed BI that he had no plans to cease driving and that whereas it had change into a bit tougher to make cash lately, he is nonetheless reaching his monetary objectives.
“Even after expenses, I am still making a nice living driving with Uber,” he mentioned.
Ceran is one in every of many Uber and Lyft drivers actively monitoring their ride-hailing earnings and bills to ensure the gig is value their time. But the calculations drivers use — and what figures they worth when evaluating their success — range significantly. Some have every day journey and earnings objectives, whereas others care extra about their per-mile or per-hour earnings. Some are targeted on their profitability after automobile bills, whereas others monitor their taxable revenue.
In latest months, a number of drivers have instructed BI that ride-hailing has change into much less worthwhile than it was once, which many have attributed to the rising variety of drivers and modifications to firm algorithms they are saying have resulted in decrease pay. Some drivers mentioned carefully monitoring their earnings was extra essential than ever.
Ceran shared his prime technique for getting cash and what motivated him to stay with ride-hailing.
How commissions and driving bills scale back drivers’ earnings
Of Ceran’s roughly $83,000 in complete enterprise bills, $38,000 consisted of Uber’s reserving and service charges — successfully the fee the corporate takes from drivers’ earnings. Deducting $38,000 from his $103,000 in gross pay took Ceran’s Uber revenue to roughly $65,000.
But that is earlier than taking out driving bills. For drivers, the price of utilizing their automobiles is a enterprise expense that reduces their earnings.
When submitting their taxes, there are two methods drivers can calculate their enterprise bills. First, they’ll enter their gasoline, insurance coverage, upkeep, and different automobile bills in a given yr — however these may be tough to maintain observe of. Ceran estimated that in 2023, he spent $13,000 on upkeep, $9,000 on gasoline, $2,000 on automotive insurance coverage, and $800 on tolls.
Instead, many drivers go for the second choice — the IRS’s customary mileage deduction.
The determine varies yr to yr, however in 2023, drivers may deduct $0.65 for each enterprise mile they drove as a automobile expense. This calculation is meant to account for driving bills akin to gasoline and upkeep, so if a driver makes use of the mileage-deduction choice, they’re not supposed to deduct these bills elsewhere on their tax returns.
“You have to choose between using the standard mileage deduction or actual car expenses like insurance, maintenance, etc.,” Lisa Greene-Lewis, an authorized public accountant and tax knowledgeable with TurboTax, instructed BI.
There are some exceptions to this — together with bills together with tolls, parking, and complimentary water for purchasers — that drivers can deduct along with their mileage deductions, Greene-Lewis mentioned.
Given that Ceran drove roughly 67,000 miles for Uber in 2023, his mileage deduction was about $44,000.
When Uber’s $38,000 fee and the $44,000 in mileage deductions are subtracted from his $103,000 in gross earnings, his enterprise earnings fall to about $21,000. Take out $800 value of tolls, and also you get about $20,000.
The success of Ceran’s enterprise is, to some extent, within the eye of the beholder. After accounting for Uber’s fee — and earlier than bills — Ceran noticed as a lot as $65,000 in Uber revenue enter his checking account in 2023. The $44,000 deduction was an estimate for tax functions, so it is doable his true automobile bills weren’t fairly that prime. For some drivers, the flexibility to scale back their taxable revenue and pay much less in taxes is a perk of the gig.
That mentioned, commissions and driving bills took a major lower out of his enterprise’ profitability.
Accepting practically each experience has helped him make cash
Even earlier than he first tried Uber, Ceran had loads of expertise driving for a dwelling. He mentioned he used to drive city automobiles and limousines within the ’80s and ’90s.
His first yr driving Uber, 2016, was extra eventful than anticipated: He obtained caught in Hurricane Matthew whereas driving in Norfolk, Virginia.
“I was actually stuck in door-deep water for a couple of hours and didn’t get towed for 12 hours,” Ceran mentioned.
In the years following this incident, he mentioned his Uber hours fluctuated extensively however that he’d been doing it full time since 2019.
Ceran’s prime technique is to settle for practically each journey — his acceptance price is 99%. When one experience ends, he mentioned, he tries to get one other as quickly as doable.
“The idea is to let the app keep giving me trips and keep accepting them so I keep rolling and keep making money,” he mentioned.
Some drivers have opted for a totally different method.
The largest issue that has negatively influenced his earnings has been taking day off for automobile repairs — he mentioned he’d gotten in a number of accidents through the years that weren’t his fault.
The major cause Ceran continues to drive is that he is glad with the revenue, however he mentioned the gig additionally had social advantages.
“I love the interaction with the wide variety of people that request Uber rides,” he mentioned.
Are you a gig employee keen to share your story, together with pay, schedule, and tipping? If so, attain out to this reporter at [email protected].