By Howard Abrams
PBS Tax & Bookeeping
Q: How much can I deduct
for my nights away on the road (per diem)?
A: For 2009 you can deduct $52 per day for the first nine months. Then from Oct. 1, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2009, the per diem increased to $59. The IRS allows you to deduct 80 percent of your total per diem for 2009. For 2010 the per diem rate is $59 per day, with 80 percent deductible.
Q: I am a company driver and have nights away from home. What is the per diem I can deduct?
A: The same rules apply for company drivers as for owner-operators, but company drivers must subtract any reimbursements they received.
Q: What are the most common forgotten deductions?
A: Many truckers forget the small stuff either because they are not aware of the deduction or because they don’t think the deduction is big enough to matter. Every little bit helps, and you’d be surprised how much the little things add up. Don’t forget to include the following:
- Administrative fees: bank account charges, ATM fees, check reorder fees
- Annual credit card fees and interest (business-only credit card)
- Association dues (OOIDA)
- ComData/ComCheck fees
- Computer software/software support
- Cleaning supplies, paper towels
- Fax and copy charges
- Internet fees: Qualcomm, Satellite, Sirius XM Radio
- Office supplies: pens, pencils, paperclips, envelopes, folders, rubber bands
- Postage and delivery fees
- Security costs
- Trucking/business-related subscriptions
- Weather gear
Q: How much of my income should I set aside for taxes?
A: Keeping in mind that everyone’s tax situation is different, we recommend at least 20 percent to 30 percent of your net income. When you have finished your 2009 tax return, use that as your guide for your first installment due April 15, 2010. You may adjust your estimated taxes due
June 15 and Sept. 15, 2010 and Jan. 15 due 2011 based on updated income tax projections.
Q: What are 2009 Standard Mileage Rates?
A: Beginning Jan.1, 2009, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (including vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
55 cents per mile for business miles driven;
24 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes; and
14 cents per mile driven in the service of charitable organizations.
Beginning Jan. 1, 2010, the rates become 50 cents for business miles and 16.5 cents for medical or moving; the 14 cents for charitable remains the same.
Q: Can I take a home office deduction?
A: To qualify for the home office deduction, the home office must be your principal place of business. You must use the home office regularly and exclusively for administration and management of your business. And you may not have any other fixed location where you regularly administer and manage activities of the business.
Q: Can I deduct deadhead miles?
A: No, you cannot. There is a big misconception concerning deadhead miles. Many truckers think that the income lost as a result of deadhead miles is a deductible item. That is not the case. Only the costs to operate the truck – i.e., fuel, insurance, repairs, and maintenance covering those deadhead miles – are deductible. LL
Everyone’s financial situation is different. This article does not give and is not intended to give specific accounting and/or tax advice. Please consult with your own tax professional.
This article is written by PBS Tax & Bookkeeping Service, a company that has been providing income tax and bookkeeping services to the trucking industry for more than a quarter-century. If you would like further information, please contact PBS at 800-697-5153 or see their Web site at www.pbstax.com.