With 2014 winding down, tax time is just around the corner. To help you prepare, we've compiled a quick resource of items you can list as deductions on your 2014 tax return.
This is a general list; the majority of tax deductions for truck drivers apply to both self-employed drivers and drivers who work for a company. However, some tax deductions apply only to drivers who are self-employed. If you are self-employed, review the list on the 2014 IRS Schedule C for your list of deductions. If you are employed by a company, check out the 2014 IRS Schedule A for a list of deductions. Below are a few common (and sometimes skipped over) tax deductions for truck drivers:
- Travel expenses. Food, lodging and other travel expenses are tax-deductible. You may be able to claim a standard daily meal allowance of $59/day. For more information, check out the 2013 version of IRS Publication 463 (the 2014 version is not yet available).
- Vehicle expenses. Many truck drivers gather a large number of receipts in this category throughout the year. Vehicle expenses include everything from fuel and parking expenses to road tolls and maintenance costs. Your licensing fees are also tax-deductible.
- Liability insurance premiums. This may be a necessary evil of truck driving, but at least it’s deductible!
- Cleaning supplies.You can deduct the cost of paper towels, window cleaner and other supplies you need to maintain your truck.
- Association fees.If you drive for a company that requires you to join a union or group, you can deduct the membership dues from your tax return.
- Doctor’s exams. DOT physicals, sleep apnea studies and drug tests can all be deducted from your taxes.
- Personal care items. Remember to deduct the cost of the items you purchase on the road that you would otherwise have at home: tissues, razors, hand sanitizers, pillows, first aid supplies, and many other personal care items can be deducted. You may also deduct your expenses for paying to use laundry and showering facilities.
- Clothing. If you’re required to wear a uniform, the cost is deductible, as dry cleaning to keep it fresh and wearable. This category also includes special accessories and footwear that are required for your job, like a hard hat, steel toe boots, safety glasses and other safety gear.
- Postage. If your position requires you to mail anything to your company, the cost of the paper, pens, envelopes, stamps, etc., is tax-deductible.
- Load securement. Items required to ensure a safe load are also deductible, including load chains and bars, tie down straps, bungee cords, tarp straps, and wide load flags and signs.
- Cab essentials. Everyday items like an alarm clock, bedding, and curtains for the cab are generally deductible, as are extras storage bins, thermos and food storage items, and small appliances like coffee makers and refrigerators.
- Tools. Don't forget to include deductions for basic tools for the road: crowbar, hammer, flashlights, pliers, wrenches, duct and electrical tapes, and other essentials.
- Fees. If you’re required to take classes or training to maintain your license, those fees are tax-deductible. Whether the training or class is mandatory to federal law, state law or just your employer, the fees are still tax-deductible. Other fees that are deductible include those for ATMs, check fees, and CDL licensing.
- Office supplies. Every day in-cab items like log books are deductible, but don't forget to deduct the cost of items like a calculator, pens, and pencils and other traditional office supplies, as well as money paid to make copies or send faxes.
- Connection costs.This category refers to internet and satellite access for your cell phone or Sirius/XM. You can deduct 50 percent of your access fees. The entire cost of your cell phone and laptop is deductible. In fact, the cost of deprecation on your PC can also be deducted if you are required to use it for work. However, the cost of a home telephone is NOT tax-deductible.
- Business-related magazine subscriptions.This category includes only industry-specific magazines about trucking, transportation, etc. Leisure and hobby magazines are not tax-deductible.
Please keep in mind this is not a full, comprehensive list, but a great starting point and a reminder to look into items you may not think are deductible. If you are new to the trucking industry or don’t keep your receipts well-organized throughout the year, consider putting a filing system in place for 2015.
Use the list above as a starting point to help you create files for your receipts. Also, remember that tax deductions can ONLY include expenses for which you have not already been reimbursed. Everyone’s employment and tax situation is unique, so always consult with a tax professional if you have questions or concerns about possible deductions.
This article is not intended to provide specific tax advice.