Whether you’re an over-the-road truck driver, or an owner-operator, it’s difficult to know what you can and can’t write off on your tax return. The IRS is constantly changing the fine print, which can make it even more challenging.
Let’s assume you have been diligently keeping your receipts and invoices somewhere. Next step is figuring out what to do with all of it. Hopefully you’ve even gone the extra step to ensure you stored everything in a safe place, and kept track of all your expenses on a spreadsheet or notebook.
First, let’s take a look at the top write-offs for truck drivers that are often missed, starting with the common, every day stuff.
If you are a self-employed driver, your taxes will look different than those who have W-2 earnings. Out-of-pocket purchases are routine and can add up. Tracking all of your business-related purchases (and the use of your home in some cases) lowers your taxable income, which allows you to keep more of your money.
Your phone and internet are big ones. The IRS lets you deduct 50% of the cost for your mobile phone and internet data plans, as well as 100% of the cost of the device itself.
Truck drivers can also deduct 80% of their meals, travel expenses, and incidentals while spending the night away from home. This includes all tolls, parking feels and fuel as well.
Any necessities while on the road are tax-deductible. This can be a satellite radio subscription, laundry, logbooks, ELD’s, GPS, chargers, adapters, mini fridge, etc. Even things like sunglasses and gloves can be written off, and it all adds up.
Whether you own or lease, you can deduct the cost of maintaining, cleaning, and repairing your truck. Note: if you do the work yourself, you can only deduct the cost of the parts and not labor.
Need to replace your tires? What about new straps, load locks, or tarps? All of these can be written off as well.
If you have a dedicated home office, it is also deductible. That includes homeowners’ insurance, rent, repairs and maintenance, utilities, and security systems.
Health insurance and retirement plans are another big expense you can deduct, but only if you are not a W-2 worker that gets coverage from another employer. The same goes for any contributions you make to a retirement plan.
Likewise, you can deduct your health, dental, and long-term care insurance premiums, as well as the cost of premiums that cover your spouse or dependent.
If you are a 1099 worker, you are required to pay both parts of FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) taxes. However, you can deduct half of those payments as self-employment taxes. If you file as a sole proprietor, partnership or S-Corporation, you may be eligible for a deduction of 20% of your profit as well.
Whether you decide to file your own taxes, or let an accountant do them, it’s important to know what kinds of things to be aware of. When in doubt, save the receipt. Keep them all in one place, and you won’t be scrambling to find everything when tax time comes.
For more information, and up to date changes, visit the official IRS page for Truck Drivers at https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-businesses-self-employed/trucking-tax-center