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Tax Deductions for
Professional Truck Drivers


Every year, professional truck drivers search for tax deductions that they can claim when they file their income taxes. We have updated this page in 2012 for the 2011 tax year to help you as you prepare your trucker taxes.

Since we first published this page, Mike has made a change within the trucking industry from being a regional driver to a local truck driver. The deductions for tax purposes are the same, but Mike won't take as many as he used to because he is not on the road overnight and he does not eat restaurant meals (as a general rule) during the course of his work days. (Yes, Vicki packs lunch for him to eat each day.)

Your own situation with truck driver taxes may vary greatly depending on the nature of your work and where you live. Besides our standard disclaimer, we are providing the information below with the additional disclaimer that

  • we are not CPAs, accountants or bookkeepers,
  • the rules regarding what qualifies for filing may change from year to year,
  • owner operators (drivers who own their trucks or their own trucking business) may be able to deduct more expenses than company drivers, and
  • you will need to double-check all planned tax deductions for yourself.



According to Wikipedia,

"A tax deduction or a tax-deductible expense affects a taxpayer's income tax. [It] represents an expense incurred by a taxpayer. They are variable amounts that you can subtract, or deduct, from your gross income. It is subtracted from gross income when the taxpayer computes his or her income taxes. As a result, the tax deduction will lower overall taxable income and thus lower the amount of tax paid."(1)


There are many items that professional truck drivers use in the course of their work that can legitimately be claimed as a tax deduction.



Standard Deduction?

Tax forms

Mike says that in the past, he has generally always filed with a standard deduction as we did not have enough to itemize. Truckers who are homeless should look at all of their deductions to see if itemizing helps.

Just as the old-time gold prospectors used to proclaim, "There's gold in them thar hills," Mike says that "there is money in those receipts." This refers to the purchases that he makes on the road during the course of a year. Why take a standard deduction if itemizing will allow you to lower your taxable income for income tax purposes? If you could lower your tax bill, wouldn't you?



Record Keeping

Our first piece of advice (even if you can only use it this year for next year's taxes) is to keep all of your receipts in a well-organized file. Vicki uses an expandable file folder like the one shown.

If the files became excessively thick, requiring a larger file folder, she might try one like this expanding file.

Inside the expandable file folder, you may wish to have separate files or envelopes for deductible and non-deductible expenses. We recommend that as a receipt is obtained, you file it with any notes regarding how it may affect taxes.

Helpful hint: Do not just throw your receipts in an old box or bag to sort through at the end of the year. Trust us, you won't remember where you bought things or what the receipts were for! If you have an accountant, he or she won't have a clue either. Organize as you go for efficiency.

We cover record keeping in more detail elsewhere.



What We Have Deducted in Years Past

  • We deducted the cost of membership in the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) each year we have been members.

  • A CB radio, an inverter, a camera, a truckers atlas, an ice chest, truck washes paid for out of pocket, showers paid for out of pocket, a new sleeping bag, a new portable toilet, a hot pot, and cell phones are all items that we have claimed as tax deductions in years past.

  • We did not deduct cell phone service because most of the usage on our phones was (and still is) personal, not for business purposes. Furthermore, in addition to getting a certain number of minutes per month for non-network calls, Mike has our cell phone service plan set to where we can call up to 10 different non-network phone numbers for free. He has decided that one of them is his employer's phone number.


Truck and Trucking Expenses

Mike's trucking company pays for his DOT medical exams and everything associated with truck and trailer purchases and services.

We can personally deduct things like window cleaner and paper towels that Mike uses for cleaning lights and mirrors, WD-40WD-40, and office supplies that Mike uses in the course of his job.

Up until Mike got a local truck driving job, he wore no company uniforms. Now his company provides these -- as well as the laundering service -- at their expense, which is really nice. But if Mike purchased any uniforms out of pocket (like he did when he worked for Schneider), he would put them on the deduction list.

One IRS publication indicated that expenses associated with doing laundry away from home are deductible.

When Vicki rode with Mike, he could deduct his meals but not hers.



Tax Preparation Software

For years, we have used TurboTax to file our tax returns electronically. While filing the federal return is free, filing a state return costs money.

For years, Mike worked for Epes Transport (based in Greensboro, NC) but maintained a home in South Carolina. Because of the way that North Carolina did their taxes, Mike did not have to file a separate return for that state. All he had to do was file one in our home state.

However, now he has a local truck driving job in Georgia. The way that Georgia has their taxes set up, Mike has to file two state income tax returns, one in our home state of South Carolina and one in the state of his employer.

If you live in one state and work out of another, be aware of all returns you need to file.

Mike uses TurboTax Deluxe (TurboTax Deluxe Federal + E-file + State 2011 for PC [Download]TurboTax Deluxe), which handles income both from his work for his trucking company as well as income from our business through which we operate Truck-Drivers-Money-Saving-Tips.com.

One of the nice things about filing trucker taxes with tax deductions electronically is that refunds are issued faster than they are by mailing in paperwork. Truckers who use TurboTax don't have to go looking for a post office box or stamps when the tax deadline draws near. Just finalize your return and submit. Done!



More Information

For more information, click

Also, feel free to consult a knowledgeable tax preparer.

Finally, here are a few articles that can guide you:

  • Truckers Tax Deductions for Meals (link);
  • Tax Tips for Truck Drivers (link); and
  • Tax Deductions for Meals for Truck Drivers (link).

Update: Tax updates for owner operators.






truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: The more expenses you can deduct from your income as legitimately being job related, the lower your tax burden will be and potentially the more you will get back on your refund.


Wikipedia states,

"Tax avoidance is the legal utilization of the tax regime to one's own advantage, to reduce the amount of tax that is payable by means that are within the law. By contrast, tax evasion is the general term for efforts to not pay taxes by illegal means."(2)

Hopefully, you will take all of the tax deductions that you are entitled to, to save as much money as possible on your tax bill.





References:
1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_deduction
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_avoidance_and_tax_evasion






Return from Tax Deductions for Professional Truck Drivers to our Budgeting page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.


























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