Filing taxes is never a pleasant event for most people, but one that is necessary. Most owner operators have a variety of different expenses they incur during the course of their business that they can deduct. Taking the time to do so means they end up paying less income taxes.
You will be able to depreciate the value of your truck over the course of several years. The amount you can take depends on the purchase price of the equipment. If you sell a truck or trailer during the year you should know that you will have to count that is income because you have already taken some of the depreciation on the equipment. You will also be able to deduct the interest you pay on your truck and trailer payments. You aren’t allowed to deduct the actual payments though, only the interest portion.
There are often tolls and fees for scales that truck drivers have to pay along their routes. These fees can be deducted as well. Make sure you keep track of what you pay for showers, truck parts, maintenance, and repairs. All of these items are deductible. You don’t need to keep your receipts for meals because the government gives you a per diem rate that you can claim. You need to make sure you keep track of the number of days you are out over the road though so you can figure the deduction.
Clothing can’t be deducted unless it is specifically for work related services. For example you can claim a bright orange vest and a hard hat that are required to be in a construction zone you may be delivering materials for. However, you can’t claim your jeans, tennis shoes, and shirts because they aren’t considered to be a required uniform for work.
You also can’t claim any traffic tickets or attorney fees you have to pay in order to fight tickets. Many truck drivers have attempted to deduct these expenses on their tax return. The result is they end up getting a bill from the IRS telling them they owe more money. In some instances there are fees and penalties assessed as well.
Fuel is the most common expense that truck drivers incur. Make sure you keep a close eye on those receipts because each one will likely be worth $100 or more. Losing these different receipts can really add up during the course of a year, and that means you will have to pay more income tax.
The use of a cell phone and a laptop are often common items truck drivers use. However you can only claim half of the cost of them because the government has the opinion that both of them will be used for recreational use as well as for business. Any maps, notebooks, pens, log books, or other items you buy specifically to use in your truck are deductible.
You do have to be careful though as there is a line between what is necessary and what is a luxury. For example you can deduct the cost of a special seat for your truck that is ergonomically correct. You can also deduct the cost of a refrigerator for your truck. Yet you can’t deduct a new stereo system or the customized curtains you buy to decorate your cab with.
The various tax deductions for owner operator truck drivers need to be carefully looked at. If you have a tax preparer they can take care of it for you. Make sure you keep all of your receipts together. It is a good idea to have a large envelope for each month of the year. This way you only have to provide your tax preparer with the figures instead of with the actual receipts. Keep them in a safe location for at least three years in case you end up getting audited by the IRS.