Make Tax Season Simple with Early Preparation

January 3, 2012

Tax time is just a few months off, with W-2s and 1099s due in mailboxes the end of January, and now is the time to start preparing for that visit to the accountant. For owner-operators, this means getting all those receipts from the past year in order and matching them to logbooks and mileage reports for the maximum in deductions. Not sure what is deductible? A conversation with an accountant can make that record keeping easy, but the standard rule is that if it is required for operating the business, it is deductible and a receipt is necessary for the deduction.


Company drivers may not have the same expenses as an owner-operator, but here is where those logbooks and restaurant receipts come in handy. Drivers may deduct a percentage of the amount they spend on meal expenses and other living expenses when traveling if they are away overnight from their tax home, usually considered their home terminal. This deduction can be up to 50 percent of the actual cost of expenses for those who keep their receipts, or a standard deduction of $59.00 per day for those who do not. It may be necessary to prove those days on the road, which is why keeping those logbooks is important.

Owner-operators face a different set of circumstances, the first of which is whether that truck payment is deductible. In most cases, the answer to this is no: equipment is depreciated over a set period, generally five years; this depreciation acts in place of a deduction for the loan payment. If the truck is leased, however, the entire lease payment may be deductible. For anything else, it can almost be said that if the item is necessary for the truck, and is paid for in full, it is deductible, and a great reason to keep the receipt. Still, some items may not be deductible; drivers should always check with their accountant about what is or is not for the current year.

Drivers should also remember that if the company reimburses an expense, it is not deductible.


For those who have failed to keep receipts for the last year, or who have failed to keep proof of location for the standard deduction, there is still hope for next year. Start a simple file box for keeping receipts in 2012. This can be a regular box that file folders can fit into, with a handle for easy transfer from truck to truck or truck to house. Label several folders with what the receipts are for, including meals, hotels, reimbursable expenses, incidentals and, for owner-operators, fuel and maintenance. Make copies of all receipts sent into the company and file them in the appropriate folder.

Once a week, total up the receipts on the inside of the folder and paperclip the totaled ones to keep them separate from the next week's receipts. At the end of the year, all receipts will be pre-totaled and organized, making tax time a breeze.

Phone / Fax
(800) 240-5811
Mailing Address
Trucker To Trucker, LLC 13330 SR 17 Culver, IN 46511