Benjamin Franklin is known for saying that the only two things in life that are certain are death and taxes. The worst part is how uneducated we are about our taxes. Did you know that a lot of things you purchase while on the road are tax deductible? You might want to pump the brakes on your next tax break by finding out just what exactly you’re allowed to claim. It just may save you a lot of clams! So when it comes to inevitable and dreaded taxes you’ll file next year, you want to make sure you know what to include. (And hopefully you’ll save the receipts!)
Who can claim?
Drivers working for companies or self-employed owner-operators. However, only some of the tax breaks apply to self-employed drivers. Also, local drivers can’t claim. Plus, you can’t claim on anything that your employer reimburses you for. In order to claim you must have a “tax home” which is a permanent location (home address) where the IRS has as it’s location for mail and taxes.
What can you deduct from your taxes?
- Cellphone plans & internet fees: Most truck drivers require mobile phones and laptops equipped with wireless internet as part of their job. But, these are tools that really are beneficial to a driver’s personal life, too. Drivers can only deduct up to 50% of access fees cost. However, the entire cost of the actually phone or computer itself is deductible.
- Medical exams: If you are required to visit a medical practitioner for any employment reasons, you can deduct any of the money you had to pay up out-of-pocket. Typically, medical expenses would require a minimum cost before any tax deductions could be made. However, these types of visits are considered a business expense and not a medical expense.
- Licensing fees: You can claim all the costs of obtaining and maintaining your CDL! And, if an employer requests you continue education, all those extra costs are deductible as well.
- Food on the road: If you’re required to eat away from home you receive a per diem rate of currently 80% of $59 a day. That means that for every day you had to eat while on the road, you are entitled to a $59 deduction.
- Truck repairs/maintenance: It doesn’t matter if you own your own truck or if you drive for an employer, any expenses relating to cleaning or maintaining the truck is deductible. Included are cleaning supplies, truck parts, repairs, tires, batteries, etc.
- Association dues: A lot of drivers have to be part of trucking groups or unions. All the costs of joining things like this are deductible. Plus, even memberships you join on your own can be reimbursed if you can confirm that they help you improve your job performance.
- Travel costs: So what exactly can be classified as a travel expense? Things like toll booth costs, parking fees, meals, lodging, postage to send mail to their employer.
- Personal products: There’s a lot of stuff you wouldn’t even think about being a necessity of a trucking job. It includes cleaning supplies (paper towels, portable vacuum, trash bags, window cleaner), electronics (CB radio, GPS, phone), tools (duct tape, electrical tape, flashlights, hammers, pliers, tire iron, wrenches), miscellaneous supplies (alarm clock, bedding, coffee maker, mini-fridge, first aid supplies, Tupperware, certain protective clothing (boots, hard hat, rain gear, safety glasses, gloves), clothing maintenance products (hangers, laundry soap), office supplies (clipboard, log books, maps, calculator), and load costs (bungee cords, chains, straps, locks, wide load flag.)
- Fuel: If you’re paying over $100 out of pocket for gasoline and not getting reimbursed, you can deduct the cost.
Note: If you’re not sure what is cool and not cool for drivers to deduct on taxes, consult with a licensed tax professional!