15 Tax Deductions Every Truck Driver Should Consider

First, what is a tax deduction? Essentially a tax deduction is a work-related expense that lowers your annual reported income. That usually means, less tax owed by you.  

If you’re a driver in the trucking industry, you’ve probably run into various expenses out on the road this past year. As stressful as taxes can be, tax time is your chance to claim deductions and get some of that money back.  

Tax Home Requirement for Truck Drivers  

Before a truck driver can claim a deduction, the IRS requires that you have a “tax home,” or address to list on your tax return. This is usually the address where you receive your mail. It could be your business’ headquarters or a personal residence. However, regulations say that you must regularly contribute towards that residence.   

In short, without a tax home, you will not be allowed to deduct business and travel expenses.  

Truck Driver Tax Deductions

Remember, you can only claim deductions on unreimbursed expenses.

  1. Travel Expenses – Includes hotels, meals, and more. There are different methods for recording these expenses. Check out IRS Publication 463 for more details. If you already use the standard allowance method, you can calculate your daily lodging, meal, and incidental expense allowance using the per diem rate tool.
  2. Vehicle Expenses – Most of what you need to keep your office-on-wheels running is deductible. Includes maintenance such as oil changes and new tires, as well as needed repairs. If you own your rig, you should be able to deduct depreciation amounts year to year.
  3.  Fuel – This one has some restrictions. If you paid more than $100 out of pocket for fuel and were not reimbursed, you can deduct some of that amount using standard mileage rates. Remember that it has to be for business purposes. Commuting costs are not deductible.
  4. License and Regulatory Fees – Costs associated with obtaining and maintaining your CDL. Also, the cost of any required classes or training to further your job education are generally deductible.
  5. Union and Trade Association Fees – Required union and truck driving association group dues are usually deductible. In some cases, even voluntary membership dues are deductible if the membership helps you do your job.
  6.  Medical Exams – You’re likely required to visit the doctor for a DOT physical, drug test, or maybe even a sleep apnea study. If you pay out of pocket for any of those, the costs are generally deductible.
  7. Office Supplies – Traditional office supplies like pencils, binders, and calculators can often be deducted as a business expense. You may also be able to deduct costs for job-related office services such as faxing and photocopying.
  8. Trade Publications Subscriptions – As long as the magazines or journals you subscribe to are directly related to your industry, they can usually be deducted. If you have load board subscription fees, they may also be deductible.

    Transport chain and other load securement equipment can be tax deductible.
  9. Load Securement – You can usually deduct the equipment you need to secure your precious cargo. A great excuse to get some new ratchet strapsbungee cordschains, and tarps.
  10. Electronics – Generally deductible when used only for work purposes. Examples include your CB radio, GPS, GPS map updates, and your ELD.  Also, repair costs for these devices are often deductible. You probably use your cell phone, data plan, or laptop for both business and personal reasons. Therefore, these items are usually only 50% deductible.
  11. Tools – This one is almost too good to be true. Your tax return can usually include deductions for almost any roadway tool your job requires: duct and electrical tapes, hammers, pliers, tire irons, and more.
  12. Clothing –  You can usually deduct items if you need them to perform your job. Specialized clothing such as overalls, rain gear, safety glasses, safety vests, and hard hats all fall into this category.
  13. Sleeper Berth – On long trips away from home, you need this off-duty space to prepare for your next shift behind the wheel. Save receipts for items like bedding, alarm clocks, cab curtains, and mini-fridges, as these items are often tax deductible.
  14. Personal Care Items – Hygiene products like soap, toothpaste, razors, and even first-aid equipment. Keep in mind that shower and laundry cleaning costs can also be deductible.
  15. Cleaning Supplies – Just about anything that keeps your rig sparkling clean and ready for service.  Towels, window cleaner, trash bags, and even a personal vacuum can all be tax deductible.  

Claiming your Truck Driving Deductions   

In conclusion, it’s important for truck drivers to be aware of and take advantage of the industry-specific tax deductions available to them.    

However, everyone has unique employment and tax situations. This post does not intend to provide any specific tax advice. Please consult a tax professional if you have specific questions on what deductions apply to your situation.   

2016 Tax Deductions for Truck Drivers in the Trucking Industry

It’s tax time for truck drivers and every other worker in the United States. Because tax guidelines change year to year we’ve compiled a quick list of 2016 tax deductions available to truck drivers. This is not a complete list of tax guidelines, but a starting point, and a reminder of what may be deductible.

truck-driver-windshieldMost truck drivers qualifying for tax deductions will be self-employed drivers or drivers working for a company. Some deductions do apply only to the self-employed drivers. To be sure what deductions you qualify for, check the 2016 Instructions for Schedule A (Form 1040) which is an official IRS document. If you are a self-employed driver, you can also check out this 2016 Instructions for Schedule C (1040) Profit or Loss from Business form.

This blog is not written by a tax professional, nor is it intended to provide specific tax advice. Please consult an actual professional for specific questions or concerns about your possible deductions.

Here’s a list of deductions you may be able to make use of, as long as you’ve not already been reimbursed for any of them:

Vehicle Expenses. These may include parking fees, tolls, standard mileage rate or actual expenses (such as maintenance and repair, registration fees, tires, some or all insurance premiums, oil, fuel, and depreciation if you are the vehicle’s owner).

Travel Expenses. Expenses incurred while away from home such as lodging, laundry, and meals at a standard rate of $51 per day for most small United States localities, or a higher rate depending on where you are traveling.

Required Trade Association or Union membership Dues are 100% deductible. Voluntary memberships may be deductible if it is a regular industry membership, or if it can be demonstrated the membership assists in the employee’s career.

License and Regulatory Fees. CDL costs, along with fees associated with the required continuing education to maintain a license with an employer or state or federal agencies are all deductible.

Subscriptions to Trucking-Related Publications. Industry publications contain information relevant for drivers to stay up-to-date in their field, and therefore can be 100% deductible.

Personal electronic devices. Mobile phones and wireless laptops are included, however since these items can also be used for personal purposes they can only be deducted at 50% of their monthly fees. The device’s entire cost can be deducted if it is required for work use, however.

Medical Exams. Any required out-of-pocket medical exams can be deducted as a business expense for truck drivers. These could include DOT physicals, drug tests and sleep apnea studies.

Personal Necessities. Items drivers need in order to work on the road include specialized clothing, gloves, sunglasses, log books, calculators, flashlights, binders or luggage can be deducted.

Truck Necessities. Items to keep your truck clean and items to make you more comfortable in the truck can be deducted. This could include alarm clocks, bedding and curtains, a mini-fridge, coffeemaker, tools, paper towels, window cleaner and cleaning supplies.

Load Securement Items. Tie down straps, tarp straps, bungee cords, load chains and bars, as well as Wide Load flags and signs are all deductible.