With tax time right around the corner, the OOIDA Foundation is releasing the first of a three-video series to help drivers prepare for tax season.
The videos are available for free and can be found on YouTube. The series is free thanks to a donation by Trucker Tax Service. Trucker Tax Service president Jim O’Donnell and Jim Yergens, a certified public accountant with the company, are featured in the video series.
Series host Tom Gann said one of the most common questions the OOIDA receives at this time of year is “Do I qualify for per diem?”
“Per diem is a big deal,” Gann said. “So many company drivers get paid per diem, so they don’t itemize their deductions. They really should be.”
In 2013, the daily per diem is $59, and all over the road drivers qualify for an 80 percent deduction of that amount. A driver who spends 300 days on the road should receive a yearly deduction of over $14,000, according to O’Donnell.
Per diem is a federal tax deduction, meaning you do not have to live in a certain state to qualify.
“The only qualification is… unfortunately, if you’re sleeping in your own bed each night, you’re not going to qualify for per diem,” O’Donnell said in the video.
Drivers must have at least a four-hour rest period where they are sleeping in their trucks in order to qualify.
In order to claim per diem, the driver must file a list of itemized deductions. Gann said drivers can deduct things like gloves, safety shoes, “anything you buy for your truck at all.”
O’Donnell said drivers should find a tax preparer who understands the tax obligations for truckers.
“There are so many more deductions that the drivers are entitled to, and per diem is by far the biggest issue,” he said. “Most professional tax preparers don’t understand how to calculate it properly and even if they do understand, they get nervous because putting a $14,000 deduction on an individual’s tax return scares them to death and they’ll just give them a standard deduction.”
This is the first of three free videos the Foundation will be making available for tax time. Gann said the next two videos will debut in mid-January and will feature both O’Donnell and Yergens.
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