Truck Driver Tax Write-Offs

by Emily Weller

Truck drivers, whether they are long-distance drivers or those who work closer to home, may be able to deduct some expenses from their income taxes. Where you can deduct the expenses depends on how you are classified. For example, if you are an employee of a trucking company, you can deduct the expenses on Schedule A, the same place you would deduct home mortgage interest payments. If you are self-employed, meaning you are freelance or a contract driver and do not receive a W-2, you deduct the expenses on Schedule C.

Vehicle Expenses

A truck driver cannot do his job without the truck, and for most truckers, expenses related to operating the vehicle constitute the largest deduction. If you own the truck, you can deduct the cost of maintaining the vehicle, such as the cost of changing the oil, getting new tires or making any repairs. You cannot deduct these expenses if you are an employee of a company that reimburses you for repairs or if you do not own the vehicle and do not directly pay for its maintenance. Other expenses related to the actual truck include the cost of gasoline, tolls and insurance. If you financed the truck and are paying interest on it, you are able to deduct the interest, as long as you are self-employed. The IRS gives you the choice of deducting the actual expenses or of claiming the standard mileage rate. There are limits on the standard mileage. For example, if you own a fleet (five or more) of trucks, you cannot take it.

Travel Expenses

Truck drivers who make long-distance hauls may be able to claim certain travel expenses, such as hotel expenses and laundry. If you drive a truck within your city and do not need to stay overnight, you cannot claim travel expenses. But, if you drive the truck from New York, for example, to Omaha, Nebraska, and need to stay overnight in a hotel on the way there and back, you can deduct the cost of the hotel. If you work for a trucking company in Brooklyn, live on Staten Island, and stay overnight in Brooklyn after making several trips with your truck, you cannot deduct the cost of the hotel, as the IRS considers Brooklyn to be your "tax home," because it is where your employer is based.

Taxes and Licenses

As a truck driver, you can deduct any fees you paid for your driver's license as well as any occupational taxes required by your state and any regulatory fees. You may also deduct the Heavy Highway Vehicle Use tax, which is a tax required for trucks weighing over 55,000 pounds. If you are self-employed or run a small trucking business, you can deduct state business taxes as well. Examples of state taxes that are potentially deductible include a business license tax and business and occupation taxes. Because taxes and licensing requirements vary from state to state, it's best to check with the state in which you are based.

Other Write-Offs

There are many other expenses that you may be able to deduct as a truck driver. For example, if your company requires that you wear a uniform while driving, you can deduct the cost of the uniform and the cost of cleaning it, as long as the uniform isn't something you can wear in everyday life. If a uniform is suggested but not required, you cannot deduct it. You can also write off the cost of equipment, such as a computer or printer, that you need to run the trucking business. If you are a member of a trucker's union or professional group, deduct the cost of annual dues. Subscriptions to trade magazines can also be deducted.

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