Transportation workers include airline pilots, over-the-road truck drivers, owner-operator truck drivers, railroad conductors, railroad signal men, mariners, and anyone else subject to hours of service regulations who directly moves people or goods by plane, train, barge, bus, truck, or ship and whose job requires the worker to travel away from home to areas with different federal per diem rates during any one trip.
Transportation workers subject to the Department of Transportation (DOT) hours of service laws are allowed a greater deduction for meals. Instead of being capped at 50% of the amount spent, truck drivers and other transportation workers can take 80% of the meals expense. In addition, transportation workers, such as airline pilots, are given a standard per diem meal allowance so they do not have to calculate the amount per city in which they stay. The amount allowed as a standard for 2012 is $59 per day. Each day is divided into 4 six-hour parts, so the day departing and the day returning need to be calculated based on the time of day work begins and ends.
What expenses can I deduct?
Truck drivers, particularly owner-operators who travel across state lines, have many additional expenses to consider.
Common items to include are:
- Sleeper bedding
- Laundry of sleeper bedding
- Laundry while away from home
- Communications equipment and service fees (such as cell phones and cell service plans)
- Tools, such as those for brake adjustments
- Batteries and flashlights
- Maps or mapping devices such as a GPS
- Administrative fees for faxing, ATMs, Wire Fees, Comdata/Comcheck fees
- Scale receipts (if not reimbursed)
- Tolls for roads and bridges (if not reimbursed)
- Association dues
- Postage/Fedex for mailing documents
- Cleaning supplies for the truck, inside and out
- Office supplies – pens, paper, pencils, paper clips, folders, etc.
- Recordkeeping tools: log books, vehicle inspection logs
- Medical exams
- Safety gear, such as boots and hard hats
- Software used for work
- Computers/tablets/laptops used for work (be able to substantiate business use!)
- Equipment – snow chains, winches, tarps, corner irons, straps
- News/traffic/weather reporting services
If you own your own truck, add the following deductions:
- Interest on the trucks/trailers
- Depreciation for the purchase of the trucks/trailers
- Repairs – costs to fix, but not replace, broken things such as windows, headlights, air conditioners
- Improvements – costs for items added to the truck or replaced such as blowers, engines, grills
- Maintenance – costs to keep the truck in good working order, such as lube and oil changes
- Registration fees for trucks, trailers, IFTA, MCC, DMV
- Advertising for new routes
- Brokers fees if you paid direct
- Accounting and tax preparation fees
- Insurance – workers compensation, liability, inland marine, cargo/freight, vehicle
- Bank fees for business account
- Home office if applicable
- Rental/Leasing – trailers, trucks (when yours in the shop), parking spaces
- Anything else that is necessary and ordinary for you to do your job!