Don’t Forget the Write Offs! Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers

tax deductions for truck drivers

There is over 1.8 million truck driving jobs in the United States. And the industry needs more drivers.

There are great reasons to become a truck driver. The pay is good and there are tons of benefits like a full pension, health insurance, and a 401k. 

The downside is you travel a lot of the time. But sometimes, that travel pays off in other ways. 

Especially when it’s time to pay your taxes. Luckily, there are a few tax deductions for truck drivers most other people don’t get. 

We want to help you get a bigger refund this year. Keep reading to learn what truck driver deductions you need to know about. 

Determine Your Tax Home in Order to Receive Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers

Since truck drivers travel so much, it’s often harder for them to have a permanent home. However, if you want to claim any deductions, the IRS requires you to have a “tax home”. 

A tax home means you must have a permanent location where you receive mail. You’ll need to use that same address to pay your taxes. 

When to Use your Business as a Tax Home

Most use their regular place of business as their tax home. In this case, it won’t matter where you live. 

Your tax home also includes the whole city or general area where your business or work is located. For those with more than one business location, use your main place of business as your tax home. 

When to Use Your Home as a Tax Home

If there is no main place of business, use where you live regularly as your tax home. And for those who don’t have a regular place of business and no home you live at regularly, you’re considered a transient. In these cases, your tax home is wherever you work. 

Travel Expenses

Truck driver expenses differ depending on whether you travel for work or not. If you’re local, you can’t deduct travel expenses.

Travel Expense Requirements

To get travel expense deductions you must be away from your tax home for longer than a day’s work. You also must need to sleep or rest due to work demands while away from home to use travel expenses. 

If you return from work the same day you left and also have an hour off for lunch in between jobs, it’s not considered traveling from home. 

Common Travel Deductions

However, if you do travel for work, you can deduct expenses such as transportation to and from work. Expenses also include your meals, including tips. 

Keep in mind that there is a per diem cost for meals of $66 per day. 

Your lodging is also considered a travel expense. Always keep all of your on-the-road travel receipts. 

Keep a List 

You should also create your own tax deductions for truck drivers list to help you document the amount, time, place, and business purpose for each expense to back up these expense claims. 

Personal Necessities

Other truck driver tax deductions you can take are personal necessities. These are only items you’ll need to work on the road. 

Which means that any calculators, overalls (or other specialized clothing), luggage, log book papers, gloves, sunglasses or coolers for food are deductible. Even mini-fridges and bedding for your sleeping berth are deductible.

However, items such as gifts for your family or a new suit that’s perfect for a wedding you found while traveling for work are not deductible. 

Electronics

Keep in mind, you can only use electronics as a deduction if you only use them for work purposes. As long as they’re only used for business, you can even deduct repair costs for these items. 

Deductible electronics are your DB radio, GPS, and GPS map updates. If you have a cell phone and/or laptop you use for both personal and business, don’t worry. 

You can still deduct up to 50% for these items.  

Truck Upkeep Expenses

Keep in mind that truck driver taxes differ from others who use a vehicle for business purposes. The IRS qualifies semi-trucks as non-personal-use vehicles. 

Therefore, the standard mileage method isn’t applicable but other actual expenses for the truck are. Some common deductible truck expenses are for:

  • Fuel
  • Insurance
  • Oil
  • Repairs
  • Washing

Other expenses like batteries and tires are also tax deductible. And you can take these deductions whether you own or lease your truck.

You can not deduct any costs that are reimbursed by your employer. Also, check to see if there are any cost limitations. 

Expenses such as fuel are only a deduction if you’re paying out-of-pocket, it won’t be reimbursed, and it doesn’t exceed $100.

Fees and Dues

Most truck drivers are required to have some type of union or collective trucking group affiliation. You can deduct the dues for those memberships. 

If you’re not required to be part of a union but wish to join one, you may still be able to deduct the expense. Just make sure you can demonstrate that your membership helps with your career. 

Licensing Fees are Deductible

There are also licensing fees associated with getting and maintaining your commercial driver’s license. And these fees are also 100% deductible. 

You can also deduct any costs associated with your continuing education requirements. 

Publications are Also Deductible

If you subscribe to a trade magazine or journal and it’s directly related to your work, it’s deductible. 

Load board subscription fees are also usually a legal deduction. 

More Deductions for Owner-Operators

There are other truck driver deductions for those who are owners or operators. If you fall into one (or both) of these categories, you can also deduct the cost of your insurance premium payments. 

There are also the leasing fees for the truck and any interest payments you made on your loan. The loan must be for the truck’s purchase or any upkeep. 

Depreciation Deductions

Also, vehicles begin depreciating as soon as they’re purchased. And it’s something you can deduct. 

You can use this deduction for every year the truck is owned, used, and depreciates in values. 

Check with an accountant or the IRS to see how much you can deduct from your vehicles each year. 

Learn About All Your Deductions

While we mentioned quite a few tax deductions for truck drivers, there are still more. Always ask your accountant to see if there are any other typical deductions you can use. 

Also, always keep your receipts and document what you can during the year. You’ll find tax season is far less stressful this way. Click here to learn how to prepare for this year’s tax season