What Can an OTR Driver Deduct on Taxes?

by Ashley Mott

The Internal Revenue Service allows over-the-road (OTR) truck drivers to deduct numerous expenses related to the occupation. Many of the deductions apply to both self-employed contract drivers and to drivers working for an employer on a contract or wage basis. Deducting legitimate expenses lets the OTR driver avoid paying income taxes on funds spent to conduct business.

Communication

The cost of staying in touch on the road provides a series of income tax deductions for the OTR driver. Business call expenses are a full deduction, as is the cost of a cell phone and a monthly cell phone bill for a phone used primarily for conducting business. The cost of in-truck Internet used to manage business emails and the purchase price of a citizens' band, or CB, radio may also be deducted.

Safety Requirements and Uniforms

You can deduct the cost of required safety gear such as safety goggles, protective sunglasses and steel-toed boots when the equipment is required for the scope of duties you are expected to carry out during trips. If your employer requires you to wear a uniform, the cost may also count as a deduction if the clothing could not be worn off the job as standard street wear.

Office Supplies

While a truck may not seem like a likely location for office supply deductions, the cost of ink pens, tablets and log books you purchase are deductible whether you are self-employed or a wage-earning driver, unless your employer reimburses you for the costs of these goods or supplies them.

Administrative Costs

Any cost associated with the receipt of your pay is tax deductible. If you ship any type of log while on the road, pay work-related bills such as your cell phone bills with stamps, or pay ATM fees for accessing cash to pay for food or lodging on the road, deduct the total amount of these costs.

Transportation and Related Expenses

Transportation costs to and from work-related destinations, such as mandated safety meetings or driver education programs, are tax deductible at either a standard mileage rate or at an actual expense percentage if the classes are held outside of the your employer's usual home base of operations. The IRS maintains a standard mileage rate table that lists the current standard per mile rate as well as any other per mile rates used during a tax filing year. For example, the standard mileage rate for 2011 until June 30 was 51 cents per mile, but it increased to 55 cents per mile on July 1, 2011.

Per Diem

Truck drivers and trucking employers may elect to take advantage of the per diem meal and incidental allowance amount established by the IRS. As of March 2012, the per day allowance was $59. Using the IRS per diem rate lets OTR drivers and employers avoid tracking the standard meal allowance in various areas of the country and simplify bookkeeping.

Records

Always keep clear records when claiming tax deductions on work-related expenses in case the IRS selects you for an audit. If you claim a mileage deduction, keep a mileage log. For per diem allowances or meal deductions, maintain a log that clearly lists the days and partial days you were on the road. Retain receipts for miscellaneous purchases and attach a note explaining any odd charges on a receipt. If preparing and filing your own taxes seems overwhelming, contact an accounting or licensed tax preparer for assistance.

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