Top 5 Tax Planning Tips for Truck Drivers

Long-haul trucking is a tough industry, no doubt about it. Not only are the hours long and the deadlines tight, but you also have to deal with paperwork, weigh stations, protecting your cargo and getting it to its destination in one piece, and the dangers of inclement weather, bad roads, and other drivers, just for example. Then there are the psychological and physical hardships that come from sitting by yourself in a truck all day, eating at roadside diners, and leaving your family behind for days, weeks, or months at a time. On the upside, trucking companies often provide decent pay and excellent benefits. And it’s not like there’s any shortage of work; goods still need to reach their destinations. However, you’re a lot more likely to come out ahead in this game if you exercise due diligence when it comes to your tax preparations. Here are just a few tips that should help to ensure you’re well-prepared to file your income tax returns and that you’ll see some money coming back.

  1. Keep an expense log. It is absolutely imperative that you track your expenses. For one thing, you may be lucky enough to get reimbursed for some of them, but you need to know what those expenses are so you can provide your employer with a detailed accounting of costs in order to secure reimbursement. And anything you don’t get paid back for should definitely be deducted on taxes as a work-related expense. Your tax accountant can help you figure out which costs fit the bill so that you can accurately include them.

  2. Store receipts. When you’re on the road, finding a place to store your receipts for tax purposes can be a pain in the neck. Instead, you might want to think about downloading a mobile application like Expensify for your smartphone or tablet. You can not only use it to input data concerning expenses, but you can also take snapshots of your receipts and even print out reports. Your tax preparer will love you for it and it certainly makes holding up your end easier.

  3. Know deductions. The importance of deductions cannot be overstated when you drive a truck for a living. You must know which of your expenses qualify for deductions, as well as the numbers you need to hit so that your deductions balance out any money you might owe at the end of the tax year.

  4. Set money aside. You can definitely forecast for income and expenses at the beginning of the year, but if you check it against your actual numbers, you may find some disparity. The long and short of it is that you could end up owing the IRS money. If this is the case, having some set aside already will ensure you don’t have to scrape to get by or pay late fees because you are unable to pay your taxes in full.

  5. Hire help. The tax laws pertaining to truck drivers are very complex, and they can change annually. So it’s basically trucking tips 101 to see an accountant or tax prep specialist that is qualified to make sure you’ve got all your ducks in a row come tax time. You can, of course, join services like that offer industry news and other extras, but a tax specialist that is familiar with your line of work may be the best resource when it comes to ensure that you’re in compliance with applicable laws, that you know about all the deductions you’re due, and that your taxes are in order just in case of an IRS audit.