Since a large majority of truck drivers work as independent contractors, tax time is certainly no fun and can be the source of a lot of stress. However, large payments to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be avoided by taking advantage of all the tax deductions available to independent drivers. In addition, many of these same deductions may be able to be taken by employee drivers who wish to maximize their tax refunds.
While most employees can get by with one of the 1040 tax forms, independent truck drivers must complete a Schedule C and pay self-employment taxes. For this reason, it is imperative that work-related expenses are deducted from the income earned as stated on a driver’s collected 1099 forms. Without taking all of the deductions, total federal taxes may reach 25 percent or more of a truck driver’s gross income.
One of the largest deductions a truck driver may take is in the category of vehicle expenses. This category includes fuel, oil, maintenance, insurance premiums and registration fees. Drivers have the option of itemizing all of these expenses or taking a standard mileage deduction.
Tools and Electronics
In addition to vehicle expenses, tools and work-related electronics may also be deducted. Tools purchased during the year that may serve as tax deductions include flashlights, duct tape, wrenches and screwdrivers. Common electronics that may be deducted are CB radios, cell phones and GPS devices.
Because many drivers travel for days at a time, several personal expenses may also be taken. Some of the cleaning supplies that can be deducted include soap, shampoo, window cleaner and trash bags. Miscellaneous supplies, such as new blankets, pillows, curtains and portable appliances may also be deducted if used in a sleeper cab. Meals are almost always deductible while on the road, and if hotel stays are required, they may also be deductible.
Clothing used for work may be deducted by truck drivers. This includes hard hats, protective shoes or boots, safety goggles, gloves and anything else that must be worn exclusively for work. Other clothing related expenses include hangers, laundry bags and alterations.
As any truck driver knows, paperwork and logbook records are all a part of the job, which means that several types of office supplies may be deducted. Examples of office supplies that are used by truck drivers are pens, pencils, notebooks, clipboards and paper clips.
Tax situations vary widely between individual drivers, and the deductions that may be taken by one driver may not always be taken by another. For further information, please consult the IRS documents online or a licensed tax professional.