Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers: Maximize Your Savings

If you own a trucking business, there are significant business expenses on the road, from fuel to meals. As a small business owner or independent contractor, taking advantage of these deductions can help your bottom line. Finding and tracking tax deductions for truck drivers can help you save more to protect your business. Read on to find the best deductions for your company. 

Who Can Claim Truck Driver Tax Deductions?

You can claim truck driver tax deductions if you’re working as an independent contractor or are self-employed. You can also claim truck driver tax deductions if you own a truck-driving business or have a fleet. 

Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers

Here is an overview of some common tax deductions for truck drivers that can help you save more this year. To claim business expense deductions, the expenses must be ordinary and necessary for the industry. Here are some of the most common truck driver tax deductions.    

Tools and Equipment

Having the right tools to deal with issues on the road is essential for any trucking business. You can deduct tools or equipment, including:

  • Tarps
  • Tire irons
  • Chains
  • Ratchet straps
  • Bungee cords
  • Duct tape
  • First-aid kits
  • Repair kits and other equipment

Insurance Premiums

You may deduct insurance premiums related to your business from your total income. In the case of a trucking business, you may deduct commercial auto liability insurance, property damage insurance, cargo insurance, or business interruption insurance.  

If you’re self-employed, you will also have to pay for your own health insurance. You can deduct the cost of health, dental, and vision insurance for yourself, your spouse, and any dependents using Schedule 1 Form 1040.

Fuel and Travel Costs

For any trucking business, fuel is one of the largest overall costs. You may deduct the cost of fuel, plus additional travel expenses, including truck repair and maintenance. If you have to travel to a different site to pick up a vehicle or trailer, those travel expenses can be deducted. 

Association Dues

You might need to pay associate’s fees if you’re part of a union or trucking association. Fortunately, you can deduct all fees and expenses required to belong to a union or group for the business or to help your trucking career directly.

Medical Exams

If you are required to take regular medical exams as a condition of your work, this can be a deductible business expense. You may deduct all out-of-pocket costs for required medical care. You cannot deduct other regular medical expenses unless you itemize deductions on Schedule A. You can deduct regular doctor visits, hospitalizations, or medications. 

Electronic Gadgets

Truck drivers need specialized equipment, from an electronic logging device (ELD) to CB Radio, dash cams, a cell phone, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a computer. You may deduct all equipment costs that are normal and necessary for your trucking business as long as they are used exclusively for the business. 

Meals

Meals can be a deductible business expense in some cases only. Your tax home is your home address or business headquarters. You may deduct meals if you are away from your tax home overnight while on the road. For that reason, short-distance or local drivers cannot deduct meals. 

If you can deduct meals, you can either deduct the actual expense or a per diem allowance. If you choose to deduct the actual expense, you must keep track of all meal expenses, including tips and tax.

The IRS’s standard deduction for business meals is 50%. However, as a driver, you can qualify for the Department of Transportation’s hours of service limits and claim 80% of your meal expenses. 

If you choose the per diem method, you can deduct a set amount per day that varies based on where and when you travel.

Taxes and Licenses

As a business owner or self-employed truck driver, you can deduct taxes and licenses necessary for your business, such as the cost of maintaining a CDL license, Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax, and any other required licenses.

Truck Repairs and Maintenance

All vehicle repairs and maintenance expenses are deductible business expenses. All expenses related to maintaining the truck are directly related to your business costs, from regular maintenance to major repairs. 

Office Expenses

Most trucking businesses must maintain an office for paperwork and management. All traditional office expenses related to your trucking business are deductible business expenses. These include:

  • Paper
  • Printer
  • Scanner
  • Employee management software
  • Fleet management software
  • Paper and pens
  • Calculators
  • Faxing and photocopying
  • Accounting software like doola Books

Personal Products

While you’re on the road, small purchases to comfortably live from your vehicle for days or weeks can qualify as necessary business expenses. These can include:

  • GPS
  • Logbook
  • Flashlight
  • Cooler or minifridge to store food and water
  • Sunglasses
  • Gloves
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Bedding
  • Alarm clock
  • Backup battery

If you pay to use a rest stop, you may also deduct expenses for doing laundry or showering on the road. To deduct these business expenses, you’ll need to keep a log of costs with receipts. 

Subscriptions

Truck-related publications, business services, or software subscriptions can also be deductible business expenses if they are necessary for your trucking business. In most cases, you may deduct the full cost of your subscription.

Business Clothing

If you’re required to wear a trucking uniform, the cost of the uniform plus any cleaning costs is considered a valid business expense. You must keep receipts to deduct these costs. 

Education

In addition to obtaining your CDL, you may need to pay for continuing education or additional advanced certifications, such as hazmat certification. Any education costs necessary to improve your skills as a truck driver or in your trucking business or that are required for your job are deductible business expenses. 

Expenses You Can’t Deduct as a Truck Driver

While you can claim significant business expenses as a truck driver, there are some expenses you cannot deduct. These include:

  • Tax home expenses: You cannot deduct rent/mortgage, or regular living expenses at your home location while working as a truck driver. You also cannot deduct meals unless you’re away overnight. 
  • Life insurance premiums: If you’re the beneficiary, you cannot deduct life insurance premiums. 
  • Legal violation fees: You cannot deduct parking tickets, speeding tickets, court fees, or other fees related to a legal violation. 
  • Regular commuting mileage: The mileage for commuting to work for an office away from home, such as your regular trucking business headquarters, is not a deductible business expense. 
  • Clothing: If it’s not a specific uniform and is appropriate for everyday wear.
  • Reimbursed expenses: In that case, it’s already no longer an expense.
  • Personal trip expenses: Transportation, accommodation, or meals on a personal trip not directly related to your trucking business are not deductible. 

How to Prepare to File Taxes and Track Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers?

To prepare tax filings and track deductions as a truck driver, consider these tips:

  • Track everything: From mileage to meals, truck drivers have more to track than most others. This can be cumbersome without tracking software or apps to help you. Keep all receipts and file them carefully to claim business expenses. 
  • Create digital files: To save time during tax preparation, ask for electronic receipts for all expenses or scan physical receipts and save them into a single folder or cloud-based drive so you don’t have to search later. 
  • Start early: By setting up clear accounting systems or using trusted accounting software like doola Books, you can save time and ensure you’re maximizing deductions.  
  • Consider getting help: As a busy professional, a certified public accountant or tax professional can help prepare your taxes or double-check accounting and applicable deductions. 

How to Claim Truck Driver Deductions on Your Taxes?

You can use tax preparation software to fill out these forms automatically after you input relevant income and expenses. You will usually report your 1099 income on Schedule C. To claim tax deductions as a truck driver, you can list your business-related expenses on Schedule C.  After subtracting business expenses from income, you will input the difference on Schedule 1 of Form 1040. 

In addition, Section 179 of the IRC allows businesses to take an immediate deduction for business expenses of depreciable assets like computers, equipment, trucks and other vehicles, and software. You can learn more about filing self-employment tax here

How to Get the Maximum Deductions as a Truck Driver?

Becoming a truck driver can offer opportunities for stable employment and company growth. But with long hours on the road, you don’t want to spend more time preparing taxes. Tax prep can be overwhelming, especially when you’re responsible for figuring out all relevant business deductions yourself.  That’s why excellent tax preparation software is so valuable. 

Consider doola books to simplify bookkeeping and free up time to focus on your business goals. Or, get doola’s tax package to ensure compliance and online filings! 

FAQs

Are truck drivers eligible for tax deductions?

Yes, truck drivers are eligible for tax deductions. If you’re self-employed or a small business owner, you can claim all relevant tax deductions. 

What records should I keep to support my tax deductions as a truck driver?

You must keep all business receipts to support your tax deductions as a truck driver. In addition, your ELD or other mileage log can be used for possible vehicle and travel-related deductions. 

How do tax deductions for truck drivers affect their overall taxes owed?

Business tax deductions can reduce the overall taxes you owe as a truck driver. Direct deductions can reduce your total income and the total taxes due. 

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