Per diem rate bumped to $59 per day

| 10/19/2009

The per diem rate for truckers – and other transportation workers – was bumped to $59 from $52. The per diem kicked into effect Oct. 1 for most truckers.

Tax experts have debated whether a trucker who uses the per diem rate to figure expenses can actually switch to the “new” rate after it becomes effective Oct. 1. Some accountants have said taxpayers must stick with the old rate through the end of each calendar year.

Land Line contributing columnist Howard Abrams requested an interpretation of the rules from the IRS when the rate was changed in 2005. That interpretation still stands.

So for the sake of clarity: Any trucker who used the $52 per diem special transportation rate for the first nine months of 2009, can claim $59 per diem for the remainder of the year for travel in the U.S.

However, truckers who used the “high-low” method or the actual expense reimbursement method for the first nine months of 2009 cannot switch over to the special transportation industry rates until the end of a calendar year.

The IRS letter ended the debate by pointing out information available in the IRS Revenue Procedure 2005-67, Section 4.04 (3).