How Everlance is Transforming the Way Independent Workers Manage Business Expenses and Taxes
App runs in the background to automatically create a mileage log for independent workers and is expanding to include other features to make handling expenses easier for freelancers.
It wasn’t working at Goldman Sachs the first few years of his career that most inspired Alex Marlantes to start his own company. Instead, while getting his MBA at Stanford in 2013, Marlantes, now 29, decided to earn some extra cash on the side as a rideshare driver for Lyft. He quickly learned for himself what he’d seen his parents, both of whom worked for themselves as a writer and yoga teacher, struggle with throughout their careers: the daunting task of managing and tracking work expenses. “Growing up, I always saw that my parents really loved what they did, but hated the additional friction of being self-employed,” he says. “That was a pain point I experienced firsthand in my family.”
It’s a pain point faced by more than 50 million adults in the U.S. who count themselves among the country’s growing population of independent workers, according to survey data by the Freelancer’s Union. Marlantes and his co-founder Gabriel Garza, who met as MBA students at Stanford, decided to create a solution to help independent workers, launching their expense-tracking app Everlance in 2015. Simply knowing how much money to set aside toward taxes eases a great financial burden for independent workers who might otherwise not be planning to set aside those funds. “Tax planning is a mystery for a lot of freelancers,” says Marlantes. “For someone behind on credit card debt to all of a sudden have a $5,000 tax bill is a real financial shock.”
Working for Lyft while earning his MBA, Marlantes saw just how challenging keeping track of work expenses could be. When it came time to record how many miles he’d driven that first year for Lyft, he was at a loss. “I didn’t realize how valuable that information would be in terms of tax write-offs,” he says.
For independent workers who spend a lot of time on the road, not reporting miles driven for work as part of their expenses means significant money left on the table. Every business mile driven is worth a 54-cent tax write-off, which means every thousand miles driven is the equivalent of $540 of non-taxable income.
For someone like Ryan Postell, who has been working as an Uber driver in the Seattle area for the past four years, that adds up to thousands of saved tax dollars. Postell, who drives 70,000 miles a year and brings in around $60,000 in annual income as an Uber driver, was one of Everlance’s first beta users. Before chancing upon Marlantes’ sister — who introduced Postell to Everlance when he picked her up for an Uber ride — he had been recording his mileage by hand, first in a notebook and then on his phone. Now he automatically tracks his routes and miles driven using the Everlance app. Growing his Uber business into a full-time commitment has made Everlance all the more relevant to Postell. “It definitely helped me when I was scaling my operation,” he says. “It makes me feel like I have control of what I’m making, where things are going, and how much I have to pay for taxes.”
Designed by Marlantes and Garza, and officially launched in 2015, the app’s first demographic focus was rideshare drivers like Postell. Using the phone’s existing features — GPS for tracking miles, the camera for photographing and recording receipts, and the built-in barometer to differentiate between miles clocked walking verses driving – the app aimed to create a “set it and forget it” model that has since been adapted and used by independent workers beyond the rideshare community.
This includes users like Tamara Pulsts, a realtor based in Menlo Park, California. For Pulsts, who spends a lot of time commuting between locations for her job, Everlance has made it possible to streamline the process of keeping track of miles. “Stopping to write down every place I’m going is just so tedious,” she says. Now she sees the miles she’s driven on an Everlance map and swipes left or right depending on whether they were driven for work or not.
To date, Everlance has more than 100,000 registered user accounts with users saving around $700 on taxes from found deductions, says Marlantes. While users can track miles for free, the app also has a service called Everlance Premium that lets users create automated rules to help distinguish between miles driven for work depending on the routes taken or hours of the day. Everlance is also working on expanding the app to offer additional features for independent workers, beyond just mileage tracking. “Expense tracking was a less obvious business, but a great way to start building an initial relationship with freelancers,” says Marlantes. “We plan to layer on more services over time.”
Those services include automatic banking and credit card integration to help users track and mark other expenses that can go toward deductible income, like cell phone bill charges they might have missed.
“We wonder if the way people approach the problem of accounting for their business is backwards. Many people have no idea how much money they’re spending on their business and what the profit of the business is until the end of the year or quarter when they need to do their taxes — at which point they hope they have enough in the bank to cover their taxes,” says Marlantes. “What if instead of back-solving for that with a jumble of paper receipts, you knew in real time with a glance at your phone?”
So Marlantes and Garza have made that their mission. “With Everlance, you start with revenue that’s been automatically pulled in for you from your bank account…and then as you add in expenses, we help you assess where you stand on profits,” says Marlantes. “The Everlance app is essentially stitching together a profit and loss statement for users that saves them time and money – and gives them a realistic sense of where they stand.” And tax write-offs or true take-home pay? They’re no longer such a mystery.
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