Monday, January 19, 2009

Tax Tips for Truckers

Truck-driving is an imperative industry to our economy. Consequently, Congress has designed numerous tax benefits designed specifically for truck drivers. Unfortunately, I noticed there is not nearly enough information available to truck drivers concerning taxes, so I decided to shed some light on the issue here on my blog. To help truckers across the country, I have compiled the following list of tax tips for truckers to give you a better idea of what your taxes should look like.

Keep Immaculate Records
With the tax-filing complications of the trucking industry, dozens of truckers get audits in the mail every year. While an audit is never a "good" thing, as long as you have your financial information organized then you should not have anything to worry about. Throughout the year, keep your receipts and financial records together and safe in a box. When its time to get your taxes done, take the whole box in so that you have all the info you need.

Self-Employed Benefits
If you are a self-employed truck driver (i.e. you own your own truck and work for whatever jobs come along), you will be able to deduct regular business deductions. This can be a great benefit, because on top of all the other tax benefits you receive as a truck driver, you will be able to take advantage of the many benefits and deductions available to self employed individuals.

Business Deductions
If you are self-employed, there are many truck-driving expenses you can look into deducting. The basic rule of thumb with these deductions is that about anything that goes on or in your truck can be deducted as a business expense. This can include decorations for the inside of your cab, the materials you use to clean your truck, and even repair expenses.

Itemizing Tips
While it is not true that itemizing deductions will automatically give you an audit, it does make sense that itemizing can make it more "likely". This is only due to the fact that itemizing uses more paper; therefore the IRS spends more time looking over your return. This is not a bad thing however, just be sure to keep good records and keep all receipts. If you do not receive a receipt for a truck wash or other expense, write down the amount, description and date in a “receipt book”, which the IRS should accept.

Meal Allowances
According to the IRS, you are allowed to deduct up to $52 worth of meal allowances, as long as you are on the road that full day. Keep a logbook with dates and amounts that you eat while on the road or it will be very difficult to come up with an accurate number.

Multiple State Taxes
Perhaps the biggest tax headaches truck drivers face is the taxes they have to pay in every state they are registered to drive their truck in. For some truckers, this is can be as little as 1 or 2 states. However, for truckers driving across the country, this number can quickly add up. Each state will collect vehicle registration fees, and some states will charge other tax fees as well. Make sure your tax preparer is up to date on each state’s tax codes regarding out-of-state truck drivers.

Truck Weight
If you drive a truck with a large gross weight (over 55,000 pounds) you will need to pay the federal highway use tax by August 31st every year. If you have not already purchased a truck with this weight, be aware that if you do, this tax will be due for the first time at the end of the month in which you make your truck purchase. After you have paid it for the first time, you can decide to pay it every year in August, or in quarterly payments to reduce the burden.

Fuel Taxes
Luckily for truckers, most states appreciate your purchase of their fuel and will give you specific tax breaks. Therefore it is imperative that you keep good track of your mileage and fuel purchases.

Hire a Professional
With so many IRS rules and regulations as well as deductions and credits available to truck drivers, you should definitely consider hiring a tax professional to help you sort it all out. You may even find that your tax preparation fees pay for themselves, as a professional will be able to tell you any and all deductions you are eligible for, even the new ones you may or may not know about yet.

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