Pair of bills would reverse per diem changes to tax code

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line associate editor | 4/18/2019

Lawmakers recently introduced bills in the U.S. House and Senate aimed at reversing per diem changes to the tax code that affected employee truck drivers.

Many company drivers received higher tax bills this year after the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated employee drivers’ ability to deduct 80% of up to $63 in daily expenses for meals on the road. 

On April 4, Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., introduced the Tax Fairness for Workers Act, or HR2103, which would “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow an above-the-line deduction for union dues and expenses and to allow a miscellaneous itemized deduction for workers for all unreimbursed expenses incurred in the trade or business of being an employee.” A companion bill, S1026, was introduced by Sen. Robert Casey Jr. on the same day.

The Senate version was referred to the Committee on Finance, and the House bill was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means.

Stuart Hochfelder, an OOIDA life member from Bourbonnais, Ill., has been a company driver for years and says he was shocked by his tax returns this year.

“With the tax cut, I knew I was going to run into a payment to the IRS,” Hochfelder told Land Line Now’s Terry Scruton. “I didn’t know how deep it was until we did the final numbers. With them taking away the per diem, I wound up paying the federal $7,125. I live in the state of Illinois, and I wound up paying them $33. It had a huge impact on my personal savings and retirement, having to come up with that kind of money.”

Hochfelder said his past tax returns have typically resulted in a federal payment of $300 to $500.

“We need to get every OOIDA member and every company driver on the road to call their Congress people,” he said.

In January, OOIDA sent a letter to the leadership of both the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Ways and Means Committee, outlining its concerns about eliminating the per diem for employee drivers.

Land Line Now’s Terry Scruton contributed to this report. 

 

 

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