If you are an owner-operator or self-employed truck driver, the IRS has made it easier for you to save money on the day-to-day expenses of traveling and the upkeep of your truck. Known as a “per diem rate,” those who qualify may be able to receive a tax break on uniforms, truck maintenance and more, based on a daily allowable percentage of what you spend when on the road. While not all expenses are deductible, the wide range of acceptable expenses can be itemized on your tax return, adding up to significant savings each year.
Itemizing work-related expenses
For the per diem rate to apply, the expenses need to be both work-related and not reimbursed by your employer.
The per diem rate is not available, however, if you choose the standard deduction. By keeping track of your daily work-related expenses and itemizing them on your tax return, you can ensure that you receive the correct deductions for work-related out-of-pocket expenses.
Examples of itemized deductions that you may be eligible to include:
- Uniforms and other mandatory attire, such as gloves or a hat
- Cell phone
- Log books
- CB radio
- Cleaning supplies
- Truck maintenance and upkeep
Calculating Per Diem for Truck Drivers Meals and Expenses
As a truck driver, you are entitled to deductions for money you spend on meals whenever you spend the night away from home. The per diem rate for meals changes based on the year and whether you were traveling in the U.S. or in Canada. Your meal per diem rate can be calculated as follows:
- 2014: 80% of $59 daily
- 2015: 80% of $63 daily
- 2016: 80% of $63 daily
- October 1, 2017, and beyond: $63 daily
- Canada (regardless of year): 80% of $68 daily
If you only travel for a partial day (and do not meet the overnight requirement of the full per diem rate), you will receive a partial per diem rate of 75%.
Commercial drivers: Contact Key Tax Group for guidance
The experienced tax specialists at Key Tax Group know that the daily expenses of operating a commercial truck can add up fast; that’s why we take the time to examine our clients’ receipts, log books, and other records to ensure that they receive the full per diem rate for every day on the road. To find out how much money you may be able to save on your daily work-related expenses, contact the tax specialists at Key Tax Group today.