Truckers’ Tax Tips & Truck Driver Tax Deduction Help


There are are number of fees and expenses related to trucking that are tax deductible, and a well-organized trucker takes all tax deductions available.

Drivers, when you’re doing taxes, Don’t Forget These Deductions:

Access Fees:

  • Internet (Cell phone data plans)
  • Satellite (Qualcomm, Sirius/XM)

Administrative Fees:

  • ATM Fees
  • Check Reorder Fees

Association Dues

  • OOIDA, Teamsters, etc

ComData/ComCheck Fees:

  • Computer Software
  • Credit Card Fees

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Window Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • RainX


  • Business Loan
  • Credit Card

Office Supplies:

  • Pens, Pencils, Paperclips, Envelopes, Folders, Rubber Bands

Medical Exams

  • DOT Physical
  • Drug Tests
  • Sleep Apnea Study

Postage Fees:

  • For Mailing Invoices, Bills of Lading, etc…

Real Estate Expenses:

  • Mortgage interest
  • Mortgage prepayment penalties
  • Penalties of early withdrawals
  • Points on principal residence financing
  • Real estate taxes

Safety Gear

  • Steel-toe boots
  • Work Gloves
  • Cargo straps

Trucking & Business Related Subscriptions

  • Load board subscriber fees
  • Trucking industry magazines


  • Dry Cleaning Costs for your uniforms or protective clothing

Don’t make the same mistake as many truck drivers, falling into the trap of trying to claim too much and ending up with an audit.  Here are some non-deductible expenses that many truckers’ need to leave off:

NON-Deductible Expenses:

  • Expenses that were reimbursed by your employer
  • Clothing that is adaptable to everyday wear
  • Commuting costs (tolls, gas, parking)
  • Home phone line
  • Interest on personal loans
  • Personal vacations

Special Notes For Owner-Operators:

  • You CANNOT deduct the time you incur from working on your own equipment
  • You CANNOT deduct the income lost as a result of deahead/unpaid mileage, ONLY the expenses incurred to operate the truck during that time such as fuel, tolls and scales. etc.
  • You CANNOT deduct for downtime

Note: Your tax situation is unique. This article does not give nor is it intended to give specific tax advice. Please confer with your own licensed tax/accounting professional.

A big thanks to Jack Vyhnalek at TDA Accounting Partners for answering tax questions from our readers in the comments section! Always nice to find someone who wants to earn your business, not just advertise for it.

Below are accountants that offer trucking specific accounting services:

TDA Accounting Partners


Gerald M. Schecter & Company

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143 comments. Add a comment.

  1. Frank Emich says

    my company gives us the perdiem pay in our checks instead of letting us file for it @ the end of the year now how do I go about filling out tax forms on turbo tax

    • Tamara B says

      Hi Frank… if you are paid per diem the amount that you were paid should be in box 14 of your W2. This amount is nontaxable and does not need to be put on your tax return. On the other hand you won’t be taking a per diem amount for your meals on your schedule C or a 2106 (for work-related expenses) as your company has already paid you for it. Some truckers may tell you that they do that and get away with it but I wouldn’t want to risk it.

      • says

        Not entirely true. When you figure your per diem (M&IE) you can take the $59/day at 80% or 50% as applicable, then you must subtract out the amount paid by the company. You might have a few dollars there.

        Just for the record, I agree that I wouldn’t risk double dipping, but box 14 is checked by the IRS differently than box 12. That is why many drivers get away with what Tamara mentioned. Come audit time they will not be happy…
        Hope this helps,

        • Greg says

          Hey Jack, My brother is a truck driver and his accountant said that he couldn’t take the difference. I had heard from other buddies that you could and tried to convince him he is getting screwed, but he doens’t believe me. I tried researching it to get proof, but i’m no tax expert and have no clue how to go through the irs website. Do you happen to know exactly what irs tax law states that taking that difference is okay? If i could get him more then a “he said she said”, i would probably be able to get through to him. thanks so much!

          • Anthony says

            Hi you can claim the diffrence. Example: lets say your company gives you 36 dollars a day perdiem but the rate is 59 you can claim the diffeence of 23 a day that you were intitled the 36 which ads up over time .

  2. Tamara B says

    ps I haven’t used turbo tax lately (I am a paid preparer) but having thought about this more, if there is a place to put a box 14 entry on Turbo Tax, and the amount is on your W2 in box 14, type it in but you won’t be taxed on it.

    • Misty says

      Our 1099 tax person is Rose..562.865.8100. We are in Southern California. I do know she can answer any questions regarding 1099. She specializes in OTR, O/O taxes. Do tell her I gave you her number if you do call! She is an awesome lady, great attitude and very pleasant! Good luck to you!!

  3. David in Fargo says

    Is there a website or a publication that lists the deduction categories by expense. For example, which of the IRS Deduction categories would Scale Tickets be place. My thought would be that they are a professional service, but have been told that they go under Other Expenses.

    Paper towels could go under Supplies, Office Expense, Maintenance, Repairs or Other Expense…

    I just want things to be in the right category in case I am audited.

    I wish there was a list of all expenses and their corresponding deduction category.

  4. Mike in Texas says

    I have been told that meals are tax deductible as well..Is this true or am I being given some bad information?

    • Karen says

      Meals are deductable, but it is so much easier to use the per diem rate, that way you only have to keep track of the number of days you are out of town, not all of your meal receipts. And remember, they are only deductable if you do not get reimbursed for it!

      • Ron Lucier Sr says

        If your not paid a per diem your safe / best bet is take the Standard meal allowance for D.O.T. hours of service compliance IRS. publication 463 bottom of page C6 top of C7

    • Rae says

      Your meals are reimbursed up to a certain percentage, and only if you have your receipt. The per diem that you can claim is $52/day instead of saving receipts. You can still claim other receipts, such as scales, washes, and truck supplies on top of the per diem as long as you have your receipts. Using the per diem rate is a lot easier and more beneficial (for me) as I don’t eat $52/day in food.

  5. says

    I’m trying to file on turbo tax using my taxes (that we’re done by a prepairer last year) as a guide. My turbo tax doesn’t have a place for me to deduct my truck lease payments. Also I train students that are paid as an employee through my company. But the actual wages are taken from my pay. How can I recoop that employee cost.

  6. bobby says

    i`m a self-employed truck driver. can i use per diem rate. in which box ot Schedule C i have to put per dime

  7. greg says


    • truckerstaxhaven says

      Dear Greg,

      Bad news. Per diem expenses are for when you are away overnight, and staying somewhere else. A single shift does not count. Just because you work nights doesn’t count. If you worked from 10:30 am til 5:30 pm you would not qualify. Working night shift doesn’t change anything.

      When you are away overnight and have to stay somewhere, even in your truck, then you count the day you leave and the day you return as 3/4 days. All other days count for full days. If you are staying overnight somewhere, even days you leave at 10:30 pm and return at 5:30 am count for 3/4 day.

      Hope this helps.

      Truckers Tax Haven

  8. Becky says

    Is there any type of deduction/offset for “lost miles” if you are not an owner-operator? I see in the special notes above that uppaid mileage is not deductible for owner-operators. In this situation, the truck is owned by the company and the drivers run short trips daily. Example, trip pays 100 miles, however, actual miles driven for each trip is 110. Over a year, the extra 10 miles can really add up. This may be a long shot or false information amond the drivers.

    • Rae says

      There is no way to claim ‘lost miles’. (actual/driven vs. company calculated/paid) I tried that when I worked for a large company who was well known for being short on their miles up to 20% every trip, on a 1000 mile run, that not only shorts the miles, but screws the log book, too.
      If there is a discreprency between the miles your company said you’d get paid for and what they paid you, then you need to take it up with the company (usually better to take care of that once a month or week).

    • Karen says

      Publication 463 says you can take a per diem of $52 in the states and $59 out of the US. This is for meals. Just make sure you aren’t near your residence. The form is pretty easy to read. Look under travel, meals & logding for transportation workers. The usual deduction is $39.

  9. will says

    I was wondering if anyone would be able to tell me with fed, state and social security what is the percentage i should with hold from my check every week as a single person who claims one at the end of the year on my 1099?

  10. Jim says

    I am a company driver. I drive dead head 100 miles to pick up a load for which I am not paid. I then drive 300 miles loaded for which I am paid. Can I denduct the time it takes me to get to the paying portion of the job?

  11. Kay says

    Do the deductions above apply if you work for a Company? Example: My BF uses his own money to wash his truck (owned by the company) once a week. If he was to get a receipt would he be able to take the deduction? Also, would he be able to write off the cleaning & office supplies that he keeps in his truck if he purchases them with his own money? Thank you in advance for any information you can provide.

    • Rae says

      If he is a company driver, the company usually will reimburse the wash fee normally once every 2 weeks. If he doesn’t turn them in then he can deduct them at tax time. And any office supplies purchased for use on the truck are deductible.

  12. Rae says

    I have to renew my CDL this year, including my hazmat. This amounts to over $150! This fee should be on the list of deductible expenses but I don’t see it up there.

    • admin says

      Sure, they are deductible if you’re paying them on the job. However, tolls and fuel that are paid on your way to work in your personal vehicle are non-deductible, which is why they are listed in that section.

  13. sara jackson says

    My boyfriend is a new truck driver and Im trying tohelp him keep everythign in order for tax time. I understand that you get a 52.00 a day food rate, and that papertowels and what not can be deducted. Is there any helpful hints that anyone can give me? All I have is a pile of receipts he gives me each month when he comes home. Im so confused!

  14. ROBERT says

    My company takes taxes out of my hourly rate, but on my check the milage that I am paid is not taxed. Am I responsible for all these taxes?

    Thanks for any help you can give me.

  15. Krista says

    Whom or what do you use to file your taxes at the end of the year. This is the first year that my husband is an O/O. But he also has a w2 coming for company driver for 3/4 of the year. Any information will be greatly appreciated

  16. james says

    Karyn I live in WI and I was able to deduct TV, DVD player., CB, Sirius radio, GPS, Atlas, Postage, Laundry, Basic Supplies Tire gauge Flashlight etc.

  17. JB says

    Unpaid miles, entertainment – not deductible.
    Per diem pay forced by employer – NOT a good deal for drivers, Research it.
    Rate allowed is $59/day for days actually on the road. Calculate how many days out. Subtract
    the forced per diem and if the standard of $59 is higher, you can deduct the difference. Remember when employer does the per diem, this “decreases” your pay for social security, income claimed to get mortgages, unemployment amount, etc.
    Husband/Wife teams each get the standard daily deduction as a driver in their own right.
    Per diem/standard daily deduction write off is for drivers that do not go home every night and have to sleep in truck.
    Licensing, endorsements, physicals, etc that are not paid for by employer are deductible.
    Get a good CPA that does lots of trucker taxes. Well worth the small cost and it’s deductible.
    Ours is Darrel Ingram in Dallas, look him up. Years of experience with truckers.

  18. Mittie says

    My brother is an independent trucker. He uses his cell phone for both business & personal use. What is a safe percentage of his cell phone bill can he claim as a tax deduction?

  19. cindy says

    My son made $25k working for a trucking company. This year HRBlock claimed a per diem for 232 days using form 2106 and a schedual A form. He wanted to buy a house but was told his deductions were too high. The per diem brought his income down to $14k so now he’s told he can’t buy a house. Even though he grossed $25k, his income tax form basically says he only made $14k. What happened? Can this be corrected?

    • says

      It sounds like your preparer correctly figured your son’s tax return. The deductions on IRS Form 2106 and Schedule A only serve to reduce the taxable income, his Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) remains the same. I agree with Amber that you need to find a competent mortgage broker. Another fact I like to stress is that a tax return is not an accurate reflection of your income, it is merely a document used to determine your tax liability – or in other words, how much money to send Uncle Sam. It sounds like he is a company driver, his AGI should suffice. I hope this information did not come too late!

  20. shoreman says

    I have been told that meals are tax deductible as well..Is this true or am I being given some bad information?

  21. STap says

    Wow. This is all confusing. I do not understand this perdiem thing. The IRS will allow each driver to deduct $59/day out just cuz they are a truck driver. Correct? Why would this make it look like you made less during the year? I thought deductions were just that, deductions. It softens the blow of what you owe the tax man/ allows you to get money back at the end of they year?? My husband and I will be very diligent in keep receipts, etc and I want to make sure we take advantage of everything we can. I have used turbo tax in the past for business ventures and it was great. Easy to use and covered everything. I can’t imagine it would be different for this. Btw, thanks so much for this thread. Helps!!

  22. Chris says

    You will have to claim the perdiem they gave you and then deduct the total perdiem allowance you are entitled to..

  23. Chris says

    Yes its correct. The bank see’s it just like it is, Your Son may “Generate” $25k a yr . But acording to His tax filling it cost him $11k to do it.

  24. Louise says

    My husband has just become employeed by a small private trucking company. We found out they do not deduct taxes from his checks. I need to learn how to do that myself but I have absolutely NO clue how it’s done or how to pay the taxes. Anyone in this situation? Can you help me, please?

  25. Tracy says

    My question is concerning the per diem for tax purpose. My husband gets a per diem but one trip its $13.00, the next trip it could be 28.00 and so on But he is always out on the road,,, so can we deduct the differenc of $52.00 per day?

  26. Pamala says

    So my husband is a company truck driver he is OTR keeps log books but isn’t out over night. Can he claim anything from his log books?

  27. says

    Tracy, the per diem is $59 per day not $52. Also the days of leaving and returning are handled in a special way. If he is subject to DOT regs he can claim 80% of this allowance instead of the usual 50%. If he is getting reimbursement from his employer he has to back it out from the allowance.

    • says

      Please be careful, the standard M&IE (Meals per diem rate) is $46 for 2013! The government actually publishes different rates for different locations within the United States. Higher rates apply in certain areas. Most people do best to stick with the standard rate because is is difficult and time consuming to determine and prove the driver was in higher locations. Please see page 6 top of the center column and

      • Rose says

        jack…please re-read the publication you mentioned…there is a special rate for transportation workers…$59 per day

      • Michelle says

        Standard meal deduction is $59 for truck drivers, read about another paragraph or so down. And it explains transportation industry has a higher rate than the standard $46 for the rest of us.

  28. says

    ok… first time trying to do deductions for my husband (otr) driver. what is the per diem deduction and what is the food deduction? what category do they go under?

    • says

      I hope that you have already found your answers! But it is snowing and our office is relatively quiet so I am browsing. Please see page 6 top of the center column and for your answers. As to where to put these, it depends on if he is a company driver or O/O. In the first case it will go on IRS Form 2106 which will populate your schedule A. As an O/O it will probably be a schedule C, probably. If you have an LLC (most do these days) you need to understand what entity you have established to determine your filing requirements. I would suggest asking an accountant or EA if you have. There might be other options open to you depending how you have things set up. If he is subject to the DOT rules for hours of service he can take the 80% deduction. If not, such as an escort car, etc. he can only take the 50% deduction. Hope this helps.

    • says

      No no no no no no no no no! Not true! In order to take standard mileage the vehicle has to be personal use vehicle, such as a car or light truck that you would normally drive with the family. Class A and Class B vehicles do not qualify for this. Last year we had a driver come to our firm because his last preparer (uses the color green in their logo) claimed the standard mileage deduction and he wound up with an IRS audit. I cannot say that this is a red flag for the IRS but it is not correct. It is not the firm that the preparer works for that determines their competency but the person. I would recommend finding someone with trucking experience and sticking with them. If they earn your business they deserve your business.

  29. Lauretta Osterman says

    I ride with my husband full time our truck is leased out to a company, for next year taxes what are the requirements for myself to get any allowances, I help with everything including all the expenses etc., but the driving, as I do not have a CDL or permit. Would I also have to be employed by the lease company ? Can I just have a permit or has to be a CDL the tax man said I needed a CDL and I am wondering if it can be a permit and or employed? * He is employed by them as I am not*

    • heartless says

      @ Lauretta
      If you do not hold a CDL, AND are not actually employed by the company, you can not claim the per diem – sorry. Riding along does not count, regardless of whether you do all the paperwork or not.

      and whoever is stating the per diem rate as $59/day is WRONG!

      the correct rate is: continental US = $52/day

  30. heartless says

    OK, I need to amend my previous statement

    the per diem rate for 2012 was $52/day from Jan 1 to Sept 30.
    From Oct 1 to the end of the year it was apparently increased to $59/day

    You can not use the $59/day for the entire year – only from October 1st on.

    • semi-crazy roadscholar says

      NO, you need to amend your statement again. The per diem rate change took effect during the 2010 tax year. The correct rate for truck drivers for the 2012 tax year is 59./day for the entire year and a driver can deduct 80% of any un-reimbursed meal expenses.

  31. says

    I make 25% of the load and my company say’s they are paying us a per diem. Here is the way they do it: I make 25% of the load and before they take out taxes they take the $59 per day per diem off the top of my pay than take the taxes out than add the per diem back in. My question is , is this right or not for the way that I see it they are dropping my rate of pay by doing it this way, it like I’m paying my own perdiem and not them. So what is the right way to do it

  32. l93722 says

    My husband just got a job with a small trucking co. He’s on the road 6-7d a week, and gets paid same amount each time upon delivering load. The owner does not take anything out for taxes, so we have to do this ourselves. So my question is, is there a program tha I can use to calculate all deductions and how to and how much to pay on quarterly taxes?
    Or do I have to bite the bullet and pay $$ to have a CPA or bookeeper do this?


    • says

      Hmm. Good question. If your husband is being paid and no taxes taken out he will probably receive a 1099. There are plenty of software programs out there to complete your taxes, but you might find it easier and less painful to find a competent preparer (I would put my info here but I am not certain I can :). There are a few questions you should answer first, though. Is your husband an owner operator? If so, has he set up some type of an company entity such as a partnership, LLC, Sub S, etc.? If NOT, you are PROBABLY going to file your return on Schedule C of your individual tax return. If SO, you might still be filing Schedule C.

      Next, you should determine the number of nights he spent out of town. I assume he drags his hotel around with him (sleeper). He would then be entitled to take the M&IE deduction (see page 6 top of the center column and You can usually substantiate the number of nights away from the tax home from the driving log. Next, he will want to take all the business deductions that are appropriate. It comes down to expenses that are ordinary and necessary for his line of work. He cannot take personal expenses. For instance, if he buys work boots so that if he drops a binder on his foot he doesn’t break a toe he can deduct those. If he buys a book or magazine to read on his off time he cannot.

      I would encourage you to find a competent preparer who is familiar with the trucking industry. You can look in magazines such as National Truckin Magazine and find someone :) (plug plug) or talk to a driver who is satisfied with his/her preparer. While CPAs often are tax experts their field of study is rather broad and they may not be well suited for individual taxes or truckers per se. Much like seeing a general practitioner when you should see an ophthalmologist. Regardless, you should be able to find someone who can steer you in the correct direction if you have questions.

      • Melissa says

        Hello Jack V-
        I’m in need of a few questions needing answered as I’m filling out my 3rd app for and my husband went independent about 6 weeks ago. We had originally filled out the app as self employed, but after speaking w/ someone at the market place, I was told he would be independent and we called the company and they advised they send 1099’s. I noticed your (plug plug) lol and wondered if you may be able to help? I am trying to figure out how on earth I would determine our yearly income minus expenses (cause i have no clue) in order to report a somewhat accurate figure. Or if I should just go w/ 2012’s income, then report changes later? We are also looking for a “competent preparer who is familiar with the trucking industry”.

  33. Andrea says

    Hi, my husband is a OTR truck driver how can we deduct the per diem. This is so confusing for us. And also does anyone know what things can we deduct as job related expenses? Can we write off laundry, cell phone use por business? If yes how do we do it?

  34. Lawrence Fessler says

    I drive for Walmart and my last dot physical I had too get a sleep study as required by the dot doctor they use and they said I have sleep apnea and in order too keep my cdl and job with Walmart I had too start using a cpap machine too sleep at least 4 hours a day and 75% off the time all monitored by the doctor and state off pa when my physical runs out or I loosemy cdl or they downgrade it too a car license is this all deductible on business exspense as I drive over the road my insurance paid there part but I am talking about the part they did not pay also since them Walmart started there own program and made the requirements stricter then the dot but they are paying for everything now in a home testing kit and a cpap machine but I had it done before this happened

  35. TankerMike says

    I drove OTR year of 2013 for 9months im getting ready to do my takes and I didn’t claim per-diem with my company can I still get pre-diem even though I didn’t save reciets?

    • says

      Yep, claim the $59 rate (at 80% or 50% whichever applies). If you need to file an amended return. You need only have a record of your nights on the road, such as, uh, maybe your logs? :) If you have electronic logs get a copy of them and keep them with your tax records. Many companies dump them after 6 months, make a copy first.
      Hope this helps.

  36. michael says

    I went to school last year it was a Truck Driving Program and was an accelerated course taking me a month to get my Class A. I paid 2,200 for the training. Is this tax deductible? Thank You

    • says

      Did you get your question answered? I hope I am not too late. Sort of a busy time for a tax guy.
      Are you a company driver or an OO (or leased)? They are about the same but they go in different places for each one. You get $59/day for meals and incidental expenses for every night you were on the road, essentially. Technically you are supposed to knock a portion of the day off at the beginning and the end of each trip for that portion of the day in which you arrived or left, but most people just knock a day off the trip and call it even. You might leave a little money on the table, like a real little money. Anyhow, since you are in transportation you get $59/day without receipts. If you are a DOT driver (sucject to the rest rules of DOT) then you take 80% of that. If not, you can only take 50%. Finally, as a company driver it goes on IRS form 2106, reimbursed business expense. As a 1099 driver – OO – you take it off your schedule C. If you have a partnership, LLC with more than one shareholder and the shareholders are not married, or sub S (not many of those out there) find a tax guy. I would not want to try and coach you through one of those… :) Hope this helps.

    • says

      Uncle Sam does not let you take standard per diem for lodging if you have a sleeper since you haul your lodging around with you. From time to time you just have to sleep in a bed and get a shower, so they do not get on you too much when you take the occasional motel room. The rule is if you are duplicating expenses that you normally bear at your tax home. For instance, since you have a house or apartment to sleep in at home, when you are away you take the lodging rate. However, since you drag your hotel around about 3 feet behind your fanny and that cost is part of your rig you have already duplicated that cost. Now, it is a pretty hard IRS guy who will deny you a good night’s rest once in a while. You can take the conus $77/night. That rate would certainly apply if your rig is in for maintenance or something similar such as hazmat training or orientation.
      Now, perhaps you are thinking about the M&IE (Meals and Incidental Expenses) rate, that is $59/night at 80% for DOT employees (those governed by DOT rules of service regs).
      Hope this helps,

  37. Mike d says

    Do oilfield cdl holders have any special deductions deductions that can be taken? I have heard if you’re a cdl holder you can receive 72 dollar a day deduction. Sometimes were outta town Sometimes home every night. What deductions can take

  38. Shelley says

    The company that my husband is lease purchasing his semi truck from is claiming the fuel HE paid for all year on THEIR tax return (he uses their fuel card but they are reimbursed at the end of every week by taking the amount of fuel used out of his paycheck). The semi truck is in the companies name but he pays a weekly truck payment to them. They subtracted fuel costs and who knows what else from his actual gross before sending us the 1099. Is this legal for them to do this????? I’m thinking NO!!!! Any help please.

    • says

      Good question. Let me get this straight. He pays for fuel with a company card and that money comes out of the cost before they settle up with him, correct? Interesting. As an owner operator there are many different agreements that companies abide by, so it sounds legit however, it is unconventional. Most companies want to make the driver pay for the fuel so he/she has an incentive to save it. If they pay the fuel cost what’s to keep him from flying down the freeway in low gear suckin it down at about 4 miles per gallon?
      What is more likely at question is the company truly conforming with the IRS 20 factor test. Check out this article:
      Look specifically at #s 13 and 14. This is not a hard and fast “They violated 13 and 14 so they are wrong” type of thing. It would take some research into legal precedent, but I think they would be better served not to do what they are doing.
      Here is the thought. Your husband is an owner operator (lease purchaser). He is an independent contractor and has the right to be profitable. They have taken a small amount of that ability away from him by not allowing him to increase his truck’s performance, reducing his cost per mile and increasing his profit. It’s actually not smart on their part, what incentive does he have to save THEM money? None.
      Many charter airlines do the same thing though. They operate on ACMI agreements; Aircraft, Fuel, Maintenance, Insurance, paying for these costs and guaranteeing the airline a certain profit percentage. The difference, though, is that they are not engaging an individual and trying to keep him/her at arms length as a private contractor.
      Hope this helps. Curious, what is his mileage rate?

  39. Cintia says

    Hi ! My husband works for a trucking co. I am trying to calculate the meals allowance since that is the only expense we have to claim, he does not have any other expense. So, he worked 211 days so far, is the calculation would be 211 x $59 = $12,449 x 80% ?

    • says

      Yep! That is if he is subject to the DOT rules for rest, etc. Do you know where it goes? If you have any questions drop me an email or call us at 800-428-8327.

  40. Kinkles says

    My friend drove a truck for a company who paid him .35 per mile as his compensation. He was given a 1099 Misc. at year end. He did not own the truck, but he made interstate hauls for the owner who owned several trucks. Can he deduct some of the mileage? If so, how much or how do you determine the mileage rate? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Kinkles. So your husband was paid mileage but did not pay for either fuel for the truck or rent/lease/ownership costs on the truck, correct? Unfortunately, if I understand what you are saying, he cannot deduct the mileage since he did not incur any cost for the operation of the truck. Now, did he pay for any oil, supplies, work equipment, etc. that he was not reimbursed for? If so, those costs are deductible as a business expense on Schedule C. Also, did he have any overnights? The IRS defines that as away from home with the requirement for rest, usually 6 hours or more. If so, he is eligible for the M&IE costs of $59/day adjusted by either 80% or 50% as described earlier. Did he pay for lodging? Those costs would be deductible as well, however, if he is driving a commercial vehicle with a sleeper he cannot deduct those costs since he did not duplicate his lodging costs while on the road (he did not pay to sleep when he has a perfectly good bed at home). Hope this helps. If you have any more questions place them on here or feel free to contact us at

  41. Vanessa says

    I’m almost done filing my taxes via paper because I don’t trust websites to accurately account for all of the expenses. I am a drive away trucker so instead of W2’s I get the 1099 Misc income that unfortunately seems to include fuel as part of my “income”. After all is said and done I managed to get my actual income to less than 10k. My issue now is that I’m not sure what percentage of tax I would owe on this. When I get to the taxes portion of sheet, do I go by Self Employement Tax since I am indeed an independent contractor?

  42. Paula says

    My husband is a OTR Truck Driver and works as an independent contractor. He does not own the tractor trailer he drives. Can he claim the mileage he drove with that tractor trailer? I have seen references to this but can’t nail down the answer 100%. Also can you verify what the mileage rate will be as he does not own the tractor trailer?

  43. DJH says

    If a driver signs with a company for .33 a mile and they pay 19.5% as mileage and 13.5% as per diam, aren’t you paying yourself your own per diam? How would that work with the $52 a day out? Any thing would help at this point…..

  44. says

    Good question! Business expenses become deductable when they are both necessary and reasonable. You will also hear customary as well. What this means is if the expense was necessary in the conduct of your business and the cost was reasonable ~ not too much for the product. Since you were required to go through the study and use the cpap machine to keep your cdl, and it has the requirement of your physician, there is no question that this is deductable. The bigger question is where? Since you drive for walmart I am going to assume you are a company driver. That means it goes on schedule a of your 1040. Unreimbursed business expenses have to exceed 2% of your agi. So, you can only deduct that amount over that figure, if you are able to itemize. If you are long haul, it goes with your perdiem and that is usually enough to make a difference. It can also go on your I reimbursed medical expenses and if you are under 65 it has to exceed 10% of your agi! Eeek! If you are a o/o or leased driver on a schedule c just handle it as any other expense. If you have a sub s or c corp – call us!

  45. Katherine smith says

    My husband is a trucker driver, he is making 39cpm, he drives 1500 3000 miles a week, so his checks average about 500 800 a week but they have been taking so much out of his check for taxes that he has only been bringing home 300$ a week, just thought I would see if anyone knew why???

    • says

      Pardon me for not getting on sooner!
      There are several reasons that your withholding might be high causing your take home to be low. Before we go there, you should make certain there are no payments being made to the IRS or for child support, etc. Those would come out IN ADDITION to your taxes and would really kill your paycheck. It could also be back payments for social security or disabiity, in which case they can take up to 15% of your pay each time.
      Now that we have that out of the way, when your husband was hired (I assume he is a company driver on a W-2 with a paycheck or direct deposit) he should have filed out a W-4 withholdings statement that his employer uses to determine how much to take out in taxes. Make certain it is completed correctly. Also make certain he did not ask to have any extra withholding taken out in addition to the normal for the number of allowances he is claiming.
      The best thing to do is to take a look at your tax return for last year and extrapolate how much withholding tax he will have at the end of this year. Compare the two, making any adjustments for a change in your tax liability, and see if he is having too much tax withheld. The amount withheld for states (if you live in a state with a taxable income) should remain relatively the same.
      If you have paid someone to complete your tax returns in the past they should easily be able to tell you if you are on track. If not, any good accountant (who does taxes) or CPA should be able to run the numbers for you. If you would like, feel free to contact our office and we would be happy to look at it for you. We usually do that type of thing for free.
      I hope this helps.

  46. Loleta Lewis says

    I deliver loads with a hot shot truck ( dodge ram 3500) with a flat bed attached and I was wondering if I can claim mileage?

    • says

      Hello Loleta,
      In order for the IRS to allow you to take mileage on a vehicle used in business it has to be classified as a personal use vehicle. Also, if you have used actual expenses (and depreciation) for the truck you must keep the same method of deduction. Not to get too technical on you, but IRS Revenue Procedure 2010-51 states:
      .01 Standard mileage rate. The term “standard mileage rate” means the amount the
      Service provides for optional use by taxpayers to substantiate the amount of–
      (1) Deductible costs of operating for business purposes automobiles (including
      vans, pickups, or panel trucks) they own or lease…”
      So, the Dodge Ram 3500 is certainly a pickup truck, with the bed removed, it remains the same vehicle. You can claim the standard mileage. Keep in mind you must record the odometer reading at the start of every trip, then again at the end, the date of the trip, where you went, and the purpose of the trip.
      You might also consider running out the numbers on actual costs. Most people in smaller vehicles do better with mileage. I only recommend that a client use actual cost on personal use vehicles if it is relatively new (so the depreciation cost would be higher), it sucks down gas (like yours just might), and you do not plan on driving it for too many years. Your accountant or a good tax preparer should be able to run the numbers out for you and help you determine which is better for you. In most cases though, it is hard to beat the IRS’s 56 cents a mile!
      I hop this helps.

  47. Laura says

    My husband works for a trucking company he is not owner operator. last year we did the company per Diem, almost had to pay the IRS. This year we are itemizing. my questions are : We use Aol as our internet access he uses it too in his truck on his laptop, it it deductible? (the Aol ). next question. when he is on recharge for his 70 hours he sometimes goes to a movie, or rents a red box movie and also has a netflix account for viewing movies on his laptop. Are any of these a tax write off under entertainment. next question. Is the Per Diem meal rate $52.00 or 59.00. Thank you.

    • says

      Hi Laura! Let me answer the easy question first. The per diem rate for transportation workers is $59.00 per day. Don’t forget to make the adjustment of 80% if he is subject to DOT rules of service (probably, if what he drives is 10,001 pounds or heavier) or 50% if not.
      Internet – items become legitimate business deductions if they are ordinary and reasonable for your line of work. Does your husband use the internet for his work? If he uses it to find loads or communicate with the company then he can deduct it. If not, then it is a personal expense and is not deductible. Likely, if he does use it then he can deduct the percentage that he uses for business, probably 50%.
      Entertainment – in order for entertainment to be written off, per se, the entertainment must be related to the active conduct of your business. If your husband is on rest and catches a movie, that is not deductible. However, if he becomes a fleet operator and chooses to entertain a prospective driver and discuss the driver going to work for him, then the cost might be able to be written off.
      I hope this helps. The last two answers are probably not the ones you wanted to hear! In essence, what can be written off are unreimbursed business expenses (in addition to per diem). Such business expenses must be incurred in the normal conduct of your business.
      I hope this helps!

  48. Benjamin D says

    My company doesn’t pay per diem. I spend around forty dollars per day on food. I’ve kept all my receipts. Is it worth it to take them to a trucker tax accountant ? How much of that money could I get back?

    • says

      Very good question! And the answer is typically yes, it is worth it. Here’s how it works.
      When you are away on business the IRS allows you to take the greater of either your actual Meals and Incidental Expenses, M&IE which falls under per diem, or the standard CONUS M&IE daily rate. However, if you are in the transportation industry you can use a higher rate that is not that easy to find. Right now it is at $59/day. Whichever one you use must be reduced to either 80% or 50% depending on whether you are subject to the DOT. These rules ONLY apply to the long haul driver – in other words, you have to be away for the entire day with a requirement to rest. If you drive a daycab and come home everynight you’re out of luck.
      The ‘catch’ is that this goes on Schedule A (itemized deductions) and is subject to a threshold of 2% of your AGI. Most people cannot itemize unless they own a house and are taking the home mortgage interest deduction.
      In a nutshell, whether you feel comfortable working it out or you see someone it is certainly worthwhile if you spend nights on the road. Right now the $40 per day that you are spending is being thrown away. You might as well try and save some tax money on that.
      I hope this helps!

  49. Larry Jones says

    If your trucking company has per diem and you do not take it, can you still claim the standard rate of $59 at the end of the year?

    • says

      Larry. Another good question.Yes, if you do not take the per diem you can take the standard transportation worker’s M&IE rate of $59/day if you meet the requirements. If you do take the company per diem, you might still benefit from taking the per diem. To do so you would need to determine the amount that you are entitled to deduct then subtract the amount of per diem given to you by the company. This can be a double edged sword, because if they gave you more per diem than what you are entitled to take you are supposed to report the excess as income. Our business is specifically for trucking accounting and tax and I honestly do not remember the last time a driver reported the excess per diem as income on his return! It honestly doesn’t happen very often if at all.
      I hope this helps!

  50. Angela Wells says

    I had a 2001 Frieghtliner for 8 years. Of course I had deducted payment interest and depreciation on it. When I sold it in 2014 to my ex husband we had an agreement on the purchase price. He defaulted on the agreement and sold my truck. It was a 40,000.00 loss. Is any of that loss deductible. I know had gotten the money out of it I would have had to pay capital gains, so seems to be I should be able to write of some of the loss. My tax accountant said I can’t.

    • says

      Angela – hmmm. So that I understand your question correctly you had completely depreciated the truck, is that correct? If that is the case, if you sell the truck you have to show any money that you make on it as profit. However, it sounds like your ex was supposed to pay you $40,000 for the truck and did not. If he didn’t pay you anything for it then you had given him a truck that you had depreciated and was not worth anything – on paper. People often mix up ‘writing things off.’ If you were a big company you would be on a different type of accounting system and you might have shown the truck as income and paid taxes on it when you gave it to him for the agreed upon price. Then you would write off the loss when he didn’t come through. As it stands, had he paid you $40,000 for the truck you would be paying taxes on that. Since he didn’t pay you, you have no tax liability nor any write off. Was the agreement in writing? If so, you might want to talk to an attorney… I hope this helps. Best of luck to you.

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Jose – You can deduct food as an actual meal expense if you meet the perdiem rules. That is, you are away on business that requires rest, such as a business person who is on a multi day business trip and cannot function without sleep. Such an individual would only be able to deduct 50% of the deductable amount. As a truck driver who is held to the DOT Hours of Service Limits (Duty Limits) you can deduct 80%. So, you can deduct 80% of your meal costs. However, why would you want to do that? There is a better way (probably). You may deduct a per diem rate on a daily basis. For most individuals the stand Conus (Continental United States) meal rate is $46 per day – without keeping any receipts. But wait, it gets even better! As a person involved in the transportation industry you can use $59 as your daily rate, of which, of course, you can use 80% ($47.20). Most drivers find themselves spending less than that on a daily rate, so you can actually come out a little ahead by being a bit frugal (cheap). Hope this helps!

      • Jack Vyhnalek says

        Ah but wait! I forgot, the IRS updated the Transportation Industry Standard Rate to $63!!! Silly me! I have still been completing tax returns for 2014, but the 2015-2016 special transportation
        industry meal and incidental expenses (M&IE) rates are out and the rate went up! So, as a ‘DOT Employee’ as described above you can deduct 80% of that, or $50.40 per day. I hope this helps!

  51. Truck Buddy says

    I am a Class A CDL trucker whos runs go out of state every day. I am however home every night. My question is can I claim the per diem and if so at what percent?
    Thank You, T.B.

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Truck Buddy,
      I am afraid as you have described your situation that you are not eligible to deduct your meal expenses. The IRS language is your meals are deductible “if your business trip is overnight or long enough that you need to stop for sleep or rest to properly perform your duties. Meals include amounts spent for food, beverages, taxes, and related tips. ” In your case, since you are home every night, you cannot deduct meals. Per Diem is a fancy way of saying you want to deduct meals. The words Per Diem come from the Latin words that mean ‘for each day.’ In order to take per diem your business trip, in this case driving the truck, must take you away from home long enough that you have to rest to function while on the road. The IRS usually wants to see a period of rest of at least 6 hours completely free from duty. In your case, your rest is dictated by DOT rules (if you are subject to the DOT) and you are getting your rest at home.
      I hope this helps,

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Dear D&T,
      Transportation workers, which includes truck drivers, the amount for 2014 is $59. If you are subject to DOT rules of service (10,001 # and over) you can deduct 80% of that. If not, 50%. The rates do go up to $63 for 2015.
      I hope this helps!

  52. T Donny says

    What is the max amount that can be claimed on truck driver meals? My husband is on the road almost every single day, even weekends. He is home at most 1 day a week, sometimes less. I NEED TO KNOW WHAT WE CAN AND CANT CLAIM. I am disabled. I draw a check from the government because I am unable to work due to a horrible pancreatic disease. I worked 20 years in The medicall field. Do I have to claim my disability? Some people dont but I’ve heard that because I have a husband who makes money I have to turn my disability in. This is totally unfair Just because I chose to be married to a working man instead of a deadbeat living off the government. We both are/were hard working people. I just cannot work because I have to have a transplant. I spend more time in the hospital than out.

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      I am sorry to hear about your situation and I commend you for sticking with it and not ‘getting on the system.’ I believe there will be a reward for you. But that aside, there is not stated limit as to the amount your husband can claim, but you might say there are implied limits.
      The statdard rate for per diem (meals) for 2014 is $59 for transportation workers. As a truck driver, assuming he is subject to the DOT hours of service rules, he can deduct 80% of that without saving receipts. So, you might say, he can deduct $47.20 per day. Assuming he is gone 6 days a week that would mean he can deduct roughly $14,726 per year. There are some other considerations, but this is a quick overview.
      However, if he chooses he can save his receipts and claim actual expenses. If, by chance, he spent more than $59/day on food and has receipts to prove it he can claim that amount. But then another little rule creeps in and it is often referred to “Customary and Reasonable.” He may only take expenses that are customary and reasonable for his line of work. It would be difficult to think that he could claim much more than $59/day on food and meet this rule. It essentially means that any expense must be customary for his line of work – eating certainly is customary – and it has to be reasonable. Spending too much might not be reasonable. It would be as if he decided to eat a $100 steak every night for dinner while on the road. The IRS would probably think that amount would not be reasonable for his line of work.
      I hope this helps!

  53. Teralee says

    Good Afternoon,

    My husband works as a truck driver on the oil fields in North Dakota for 60 days, then is home, here in Oregon, for 20 days. I am trying to find someone that is specifically experienced in doing these kinds of taxes. We also had/have a salvage business as well. Can you recommend someone that is in the Eugene/Springfield area of Oregon with this experience? I’m having trouble locating exactly what I’m looking for. Everyone seems to know, or know of a CPA, but I haven’t had much luck finding one with the experience that I’m looking for and I wish to have an office that I can go to in or near the Springfield/Eugene area in Oregon. Thank you so much for your time. ~Teralee

    • Teralee says

      Also, I don’t want this to sound like I am asking you to do all of the legwork in locating a knowledgeable CPA, I wanted you to know, that I have been doing my research via anyone I can talk to, yellow pages, and online. I have put a good amount of time in searching myself, I’m just not getting anywhere. I’m no closer than when I started and I’m not sure what I am doing wrong. I know this is a very important decision to make (deciding on a CPA) but I can’t even find a few to choose from (with out of state trucker experience). Thank you again for any help/guidance that you can give to me. ~Teralee

  54. yesenia carrillo says

    Hello we are o/o and Husbend was out of town last year working on road construction and I was told there is a per diem I can claim for those days how ever I was told 2 diferet rates one at around 50 and another at 120 he doesn’t have sleeper. I’m lost because at 50 we wouldn’t be claiming all the expenses that not even cover the hotel.

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Very good question! Most people don’t realize that when we talk about per diem that there are more costs involved than meals. There are actually 3 costs, Meals, Incidentals, and Lodging.
      Any person away on business can deduct these costs if they incur them, not just truck drivers. Airline Pilots, Traveling Salesmen, Construction Workers, Tug Boat Pilots, etc…
      The rules vary somewhat for the type of industry (such as transportation) and whether they are subject to other limitations such as the DOT rules of service.
      I am going to take a stab at this and assume your husband is working as a construction worker and not involved in driving a truck. I am also going to assume that he is away for a long period of time such that he requires sleep to function and that he probably pitches in with a bunch of guys and gets a hotel room.
      If your husband does indeed incur these expenses, he can deduct all of his lodging expense (hotel) and 50% of his meal expense. The standard meal and incidental rate is $46 per day, and the standard lodging rate is $83. These rates may be higher if he is working in certain locations. In my example, he would be able to deduct half of the $46, or $23 for meals and incidentals and all of the lodging, $83, without having receipts, assuming he is indeed incurring these expenses. If the company pays for the hotel then he cannot deduct that expense.
      I hope this helps!

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Please see my examples above, it depends on whether you are away long enough that you require rest. Most day drivers are home every night. If that is the case, I am afraid not.

  55. Karen says

    Long-haul truck driver out overnight for days. Can the lodging per diem be used to recover expenses. Or does that have to have motel receipts for overnight stays.

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Good question. If you do indeed incur a lodging expense you can deduct it! However, most O/Os drag their hotel around with them about 3 feet behind their cab (sleeper). So, since you are paying for that already (usually either leasing or depreciating your truck) you cannot duplicate this expense. However, once in a while you just have to get a shower and a good night’s rest and you get a room. I get that, the IRS gets that. For those expenses you can indeed deduct them; it would be considered customary and reasonable. However, if you elect to use the standard lodging rate the IRS might want proof that you really uncured an expense. At the first level audit with the IRS they are paper driven, they want receipts or a document that indicates you really did buy the room and you are not just writing off a bunch of nights where you really slept in the sleeper. Stories of people going in and beating up the IRS just aren’t true. But, if you have a night now and then where you claim the deduction it would probably go ‘under the radar.’ Just be prepared to show them something that indicates that you really did buy a room if asked for, which is unlikely if it is handled correctly.
      I hope this helps!

  56. Amy says

    My Husband is listed as and OTR dedicated company driver he works 14 hr days but comes home daily for 10 hrs, he is under DOT regulations, and does have to take that 30 minute mandatory break, his job said he can’t claim the per diem on his check I want to know can he claim it at the end of the year?

  57. Walter Schmidt says

    I went to school to learn how to drive a truck, now I have a job as a truckdriver and they are deducting some of my wages of pay off the trucking school. Is this deductible ?

    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      This is a hard one to understand, but likely you cannot deduct this expense. If you could kids everywhere would be writing off college! From the IRS publication: You can deduct the costs of qualifying work-related education as business expenses. This is education that meets at least one of the following two tests.

      1. The education is required by your employer or the law to keep your present salary, status, or job. The required education must serve a bona fide business purpose of your employer.

      2. The education maintains or improves skills needed in your present work.

      Now, if your present employer told you that you needed to learn to drive a truck to keep your job, it would be deductible. However, if you choose a new career and decide to get training or education for it you cannot.

      I hope this helps!


    • Jack Vyhnalek says

      Good Question. In the grand scheme of things this is not a big hitter – that is you probably do not spend thousands of dollars per year on laundry, but it does add up. The IRS generally want receipts. You can easily claim this under the $5/day rule for incidentals – which is part of the $59 that we talk about above. But that isn’t what incidentals is to be used for. Incidentals is used for tips, etc. Laundry is not an incidental expense and should be taken as a separate expense. The IRS usually does allow some exceptions to the documentary evidence rule (receipts). Generally, you don’t need a receipt if you have an expense that was less than $75 unless it was for lodging. An exception to the receipt rule also applies if you have a transportation expense, such as a toll or cab fare, for which a receipt was not readily available. Coin laundry is customary and reasonable for a driver. I would keep a written record of these expenses such as in a small notebook. As long as your expenses are documented and reasonable they would not be questioned.
      I hope this helps.

  58. Julie says

    our truck is leased from penske. The employer deducts from our check 10 cpm that goes into a maintenance fund, never to be seen again. The truck is still under warranty so it doesn’t get used. Is that 10 cpm tax deductible?

  59. Ronald Gondek says

    I’m an AZ resident, but work out of Ca as an OTR driver. My co. Says I gotta file CA taxes cuz they’re there….Do I need to even tell AZ anything? Which states do I file in plZ

  60. Francis Updegrove says

    Was told that a certain amount could be deducted for haircuts, laundry, and showers for OTR owner/ops. If so, how much.

  61. Jim says

    I drive what amounts to 2000 miles or more a week.Can i claim all of the maintenance and miles i have done on my truck,i drive a 2500 Dodge with a goose neck flatbed and i own the truck and is under the DOT rules and i do not receive any help from the contractor i drive for,i am paid mileage rate and i have lots of maintenance my truck.Tires,oil&fuel filters and things that wear out on the truck that are required all paid by me to keep it running.
    What can i detuct?

    Thanks Jim

  62. Rv says

    So I want to make sure I have this clear in my mind before I start on the taxes. My husband is a company driver and has two overnights a week and one out and back – approx 2000 miles a week.
    Looks like 2014 per diem is $59, so we would be able to claim the per diem for two days out of five, correct?
    Also, all he would need to save for records would be his lodge book to show the overnights, correct? (No receipts, since I pack his meals)
    Also, can you speak to the advantages and disadvantages of the company giving him the per diem vs. us claiming the deduction? Thanks

  63. Kimberly says

    I have been told that as a lease/purchase owner/operator I can deduct my lease payments on my tax returns. Is this true? If so, what is the maximum allowed?

  64. Jack Kramer says

    I’m a 26 year OTR driver considering buying a truck as an owner op and living out of the truck ( no tax home). Would I still qualify for the $59 per day meal deduction?

  65. leslie says

    My husband and I were OTR team drivers. We were O/O for part of our last year driving and then switched to company team drivers. We are being audited for 2012 schedule A.The IRS said they are interested in mainly in our per diem deductions. I provided them with the info from our employer stating we didnot receive per diem on our settlement checks. But now she wants our mileage logs while we were company drivers. Our logs were electronic. I told her, and she simply said to get them. This really confuses and frustrates me, because I thought per diem was per day away from home. What does mileage have to do with that? If the information was not requested on the tax form why is it being requested now? What are my options.

    • says

      Leslie, if you’re being audited by the IRS the wise thing to do is to directly contact a CPA who specializes in the trucking industry. I understand you’re probably stressed out and seeking any possible help, but you’re not going to get the information you need in a timely manner in the comments section of a blog. Here are the websites of a few accountants who have offered informal advice on this article:

      Best of luck.

      • leslie says

        Thanks, I have been in contact with ATBS and they seem just as puzzled as I am. They said this is the second time this year they have heard of the IRS requesting to see logs to prove per diem deductions. Your right I am just stressed and reaching out to pick anyone’s brain about solutions. Thanks. Be Safe out there.

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