Truck drivers who are owner-operators are responsible for paying their taxes. This means you need to keep accurate records of your deductions as well as your earnings. If you don’t deduct all your expenses, you could end up paying significantly more taxes than you need to.
Let’s look at some important and often overlooked tax deductions that owner-operators for trucking businesses can claim.
Tax Deductions for Trucking Businesses
Per Diem Deduction
The Per Diem deduction is one of the largest tax deductions applicable to truck drivers. This allows you to deduct meals and other incidental daily expenses. The daily rate changes over time. As of now, the IRS allows $69 per day in the continental United States. Keep in mind that you’re only permitted to take this deduction while traveling a distance that requires you to sleep or rest away from home.
Fuel and Other Travel Expenses
The fuel you purchase while driving, including taxes on fuel, is deductible. You can also deduct other travel-related expenses such as tolls and parking charges that are paid while you are driving for work.
As an owner-operator, you need to buy a variety of supplies. Many of these can be deducted. There is a limit of $500 per item. In addition to the cost of buying tools and supplies, you can deduct costs for repairing them. This might include items such as tarps, chains, ice scrapers, wide-load flags, and fire extinguishers.
Maintenance and Repairs
Costs associated with repairing and maintaining your truck are another important type of deduction. This is a broad category that includes anything done to maintain, improve, or change equipment for another use. This includes tools you use to repair your vehicle, tires, oil, parts, and labor paid for services.
As an owner-operator, you may be paying for several types of insurance. Business-related insurance expenses are deductible. This includes liability, property damage, cargo, and policies that cover lost income due to interruptions. Health insurance can be deducted on Schedule 1 Form 1040 but not as a business expense.
One type of deduction that’s easy to overlook are items not directly related to driving but that you need for your business. This includes office supplies such as paper, pens, notebooks, staplers, and envelopes.
Personal Items and Services
This is a general category that includes many products you buy that are necessary for your business. This includes uniforms, boots, motels, and showers. Keep in mind that you can only include items that are essential for operating your business.
Communication and Technology
You can deduct devices that are necessary for your business, which may include your cell phone, CB radio, ELD, internet, and radio. For some items, such as phone and internet service, you can only claim the costs associated with your business.
Items that you are not allowed to deduct are anything not directly connected to your business. This might include commuting, traveling for personal reasons, clothing you don’t need for work, personal cell phone and internet use, and any expenses that are reimbursed.
Manage Your Finances
The above are general guidelines for identifying truck driver tax deductions. If you aren’t sure, you should always consult a tax professional. Managing your finances is essential for owner-operators, especially during times when many expenses are rising.
One way to improve cash flow for your business is to factor your freight bills or invoices. Factoring allows you to collect payment on freight bills immediately rather than waiting for clients to pay. Riviera Finance is a leading provider of transportation factoring and provides customized services for owner-operators. To learn more, contact Riviera Finance.
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- 10 Ways to Increase Profitability of Your Trucking Business
- Costs of Starting Your Own Trucking Business