Truck drivers accumulate a considerable number of expenses – even if most of their time is spent on the road. From chowing down to fueling up the truck, truck drivers still have expenses. And when you have expenses, you deal with taxes, too.
Truckers have a lot of tax liabilities, so when it’s time to file your tax returns, things can get complex. Fortunately, truckers that work for a company or are self-employed have business expenses that are tax-deductible. For most truck driver income tax professionals, tax season is a chance to claim deductions and get your money back.
Are You Eligible for Tax Deductions?
Beforecounting out your deductions, first ensure that they’re appropriate for your situation. For instance, if you’re a self-employed truck driver, there are certain tax deductions that don’t apply to truckers who work full-time for a business.
On the other hand, employed truck drivers cannot include in their tax returns any reimbursed expenses from their employer. Also, local truck drivers cannot claim meal cost deductions since they can eat meals at home.
You must learn about the requirements before claiming a deduction. Know your “tax home,” which doesn’t have to be your residential address. It can also be your workplace.
Who Qualifies for Tax Deductions?
If you are self-employed, you can deduct all expenses related to your work. On the other hand, if you are employed by a company, none of your work-related expenses are tax-deductible.
Common Truck Driver Tax Deductions
Food and Medical Exams
Other fees and expenses related to your work are tax-deductible. One of the most common expenses includes per day meals, aka the foods you consume during your work. Truck drivers spend their nights and days on the road, which means meals-on-the-go is part of your routine. As of October 1, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) applies a $66/day per diem rate for the standard meal allowance of truck drivers in the United States. If you are traveling outside of the US, the rate is $71 per day.
However, local drivers are not allowed to claim their meal allowance deduction since they can bring meals with them or eat at home.
Many truck drivers pay for training to maintain or obtain a CDL license and other certifications. As long as your training or education is required for the job or improves your performance, you can deduct the cost.
Cellphone and Internet Fees
Truck drivers need phones and access to wireless internet during their work, which can lead to expensive internet and mobile fees. However, according to the IRS, drivers can deduct up to 50 percent of their total internet and mobile usage costs since you can use these tools for professional and personal uses.
Fortunately, the total cost of your laptop and/or mobile phone is deductible.
The following items are considered “tax-deductible” as long as you use them for business purposes:
- Food storage
- Specialized uniform (which includes laundry costs)
If you are an owner-operator, you have additional trucker tax deductions such as interest costs and learning costs, which only apply if you purchase the truck via insurance premium costs and a loan. Since you are an owner-operator, you also have a claim for your truck’s depreciation annually.
Tools and Equipment
Any equipment or tools that you use for your business are deductible, even if you buy them on Amazon. This list can include the following:
- Duct tape
- Tire irons
- Bungee cords
- Ratchet straps
Fuel and Other Travel Costs
While on the road, you can claim other expenses, which include the following:
- New tires
- Routine maintenance
The total cost of truck maintenance and cleaning is tax-deductible regardless of ownership (whether the truck is owned by a company, the driver or a lessor). If you perform the routine maintenance and cleaning on your truck, you are still eligible for tax deductions for the cost of the supplies and parts.
Meanwhile, fuel expenses that you pay out of your pocket, or were not reimbursed by your employer, are considered business expenses. These are tax-deductible. Other tax-deductible business expenses include board and lodging, licensing fees, parking fees, toll booth fees and other travel expenses.
Most truck drivers are part of a union or other trucking associations. As long as association dues are required for your business, these fees are deductible.
Simply put, the main factor that determines if an expense is tax-deductible or not is if it’s necessary for the business and if you have a record of the expense. Keep your records and copies of receipts to back up the expenses on your tax returns.