Filing taxes can be a confusing and frustrating task for anyone. With so many forms, it is often difficult to know which one to use, and tax laws and requirements change from year to year. It is no wonder that every year thousands of taxpayers do not get the refund they deserve or owe the IRS money that they shouldn't. One of the main reasons for this is overlooked deductions. Many do not realise that things they pay for daily during the course of work are tax deductible. Each career or job comes with its own list of deductions. Truck drivers may be surprised to learn that even the costliest things, such as food and lodging, may be used to lower their tax liability.
Vehicle expenses may be deducted whether or not the truck driver owns the truck he or she is driving. If the driver owns the truck, he may deduct expenses such as fuel, maintenance and depreciation. If the driver does not own the truck, expenses including parking fees, tolls and standard mileage rates may be deducted. The standard mileage rate for business use of a vehicle for 2010 is 50 cents per mile (51 cents per mile for 2011).
Local truck drivers usually cannot deduct travel expenses. However, many truck drivers are on the road for extended periods of time and incur travel expenses when making long-distance trips. The cost of lodging for these trips may be deducted. It is recommend that a driver keep a detailed log book of the total hours driven, miles travelled and the purpose of travel expenses. All receipts for these expenses should be kept in the log book in the event that the IRS asks for evidence of the driver's travel expense claim.
Everyone needs to eat. When driving long hours and making trips that can last weeks at a time, truck drivers often need to eat at restaurants and fast-food establishments while working. Rather than deducting actual expenses for the cost of meals, the standard meal allowance is used. This meal allowance varies by locality and changes yearly. For a detailed list of standard meal allowances, see IRS Publication 1542, "Per Diem Rates."
If a driver is required to wear a uniform by his or her employer, the cost of uniforms and related expenses may be deducted. In order to qualify for the deduction, uniforms must not be suitable for street wear. For example, if a driver is required to wear an Oxford shirt with the company logo and jeans while working, the cost of the shirt may be deducted but not the cost of the jeans. The cost of care and cleaning of uniforms also may be deducted. If a driver chooses to wear a uniform, but it is not required by his or her employer, uniform expenses may not be deducted.
Union and Professional Dues
It is common for truck drivers to be members of unions or other professional organisations. These memberships usually come with monthly or annual dues, which may be tax deductible. These dues can be deducted from the worker's paychecks or paid out of pocket. Any expenses paid to a recognised professional organisation that are not reimbursed by the driver's employer may be deducted.
The expenses listed above are some of the more common deductions for truck drivers. Other deductions include, but are not limited to, professional publication subscriptions, license fees, cargo losses, insurance premiums, occupational taxes and leasing fees (if the driver pays to lease a vehicle from the company). For a more detailed list of deductions, see your local tax preparer.