Most truckers will choose a career as an owner-operator because of the independence. You’ll be given the opportunity to make your own schedule, travel your own routes, and be in charge of your own rig. However, as the tax deadline rapidly approaches, you’ll be required to file your own taxes as an owner-operator. While it’s a little trickier than just filling out the traditional tax forms for an employer, there are a few tips and tricks to help. It’s also important to be mindful of the owner-operator tax deductions that are available as well. Please note that we here at AllTruckJobs.com love to talk about all things trucking, but we are not accountants, so please be sure to seek an accountant that can provide you with the best deductions for owner-operators.
Owner-Operator Tax Deductions
As the tax deadline approaches, it’s important to know exactly what deductions you’ll have available to you as an owner-operator. These deductions are different than those you might normally have if you were driving a company rig. Even some of the smallest, most trivial things can be deducted, so let’s look at some of the owner-operator tax deductions that you should know about.
Business-Related Loans and Mortgages
Did you happen to take a loan out to purchase your rig? Or maybe you decided that you needed some financial help to add that home office addition to the side of your home. When it comes to owner-operator tax deductions, you can actually deduct the interest you paid on payments during the calendar year. A loan like that may take awhile to pay back in full, but you can at least get some financial help during tax season.
Casualty Financial Loss and Maintenance
Accidents happen, and if you or your rig has been damaged during the year, you might qualify for a deduction. These types of owner-operator tax deductions also include damage that may have been caused by severe weather. You also don’t want to forget to save your receipts from any maintenance you may have had done on your rig. If you do your own repairs, you can deduct the cost of parts, but not the labor.
Per Diem Costs
Did you know that the IRS actually allows a per diem cost of meals, lodging, and other expenses? Currently, that amount sits at $63.00 per day. This is a great option for those who don’t want to deal with saving a year’s worth of receipts. If you are a self-employed driver working for a carrier, you can only deduct the traveling expenses you incur that are not reimbursed by the carrier.
Home Office Fees
To qualify for this owner-operator tax deduction, your home office must be the place that you spend the majority of your time conducting business.
ATM, Bank, and Credit Card Fees
You may deduct these fees, but only if your ATM, bank, or credit card is being used during a business transaction.
Tax Deduction Tips
We’ve provided some common tax deductions that you can use this season, but let’s take a look at some overall tips to ensure that your tax refund process runs smoothly. Owner-operator tax deductions can be tricky, but we think we can help!
Staying organized is probably the most important tip that we can give owner-operators when filing his or her taxes. It can be so easy to toss away those old receipts, or just assume that maintenance isn’t deductible. Try to keep a filing system that will organize all your information. There are even apps that allow you to scan and organize documents right on your phone.
It’s also a good idea to keep a calendar handy so you can make a list of the days you’re on the road and days that you’re not. It can be as simple as just putting a red X on the calendar for “away days” and a black X for “home days.” This will let you more easily figure out things like per diem write-offs later or estimate fuel expenditures if that is needed.
Consult a Professional If Needed
We know you like your independence. After all, you are an owner-operator. However, when it comes to these tricky owner-operator tax deductions, it might be a good idea to seek out professional help. Tax professionals should be consulted for business-structure advice, as should insurance professionals, and business lawyers. It’s also important to do your research. Just because people call themselves professionals does not mean that they aren’t prone to making mistakes. At the end of the day, it’s always a good idea to make sure you’re not getting duped.
Don’t Be Afraid of an Audit
Most owner-operators believe that the only time you can be audited is if you’ve done something wrong. While the IRS does usually keep an eye out for shady filings, they will also randomly select people to audit. Telling the truth is no guarantee that you won’t be audited, but no need to worry! If you are on the road more days than usual or work for a variety of different companies, these unusual (but accurate) filings might raise flags with the IRS. However, there’s no need to be worried. As long as you filed correctly, you’ll be fine.
If you’ve got other tax deductions tips or questions, feel free to comment below! If you’re an owner operator looking for a new assignment, make sure to explore the thousands of jobs we have to offer!