Tips

Track business use of your personal vehicle.

To deduct this expense, record the cost of the car, the date you started using it for business, and the total miles for the year. For each business trip, such as to the bank, record the date, mileage, destination and purpose. This information can be kept in a notebook you carry in the vehicle so that you can have it ready for your business services provider at the end of the year.

Use a separate credit card for business expenses.

Try to find a credit card without an annual fee and with a low interest rate. If possible, pay the balance in full every month. Having a business credit card may help you reduce the amount of advances you take from your carrier and will make it easier to keep track of business expenses.

Save your log books.

Your log books are your best record of your per diem (daily) expenses, primarily meals, so be sure to keep it in a safe place along with your receipts and tax returns. You may need your logs to prove your expenses, should you be audited.

Obtain a monthly earnings statement.

All of your records should be converted into a profit and loss statement at the end of every month. The statement should show how many miles you drove, what your revenue was, what your costs were and how much money you made or lost during the month. You can compare month to month to see if you are improving. If you cannot produce the statement, work with a financial services provider who can do so.

Save every receipt, no matter how small.

Why “tip” the taxman? Place an envelope in your truck for collecting your receipts and send them at the end of each month to your business services provider, who can then provide you with a monthly profit and loss statement as well as accurate quarterly tax estimates. Your financial services provider will tell you if something is not tax-deductible.

Get a notebook to carry with your receipt envelope.

This notebook will be used to record those expenses for which you cannot obtain a receipt, such as when you wash your truck at a coin-operated facility or personal use of your auto, so you can deduct the expenses at tax time. Forward this record to your business services provider monthly with your other receipts. You must track the date, location, amount and reason for each expense in your log in order to meet IRS regulations.

Open a separate checking account for your business.

If you are the sole owner of the business, open an additional personal account and save yourself the extra fees associated with business accounts. Deposit your settlement checks in this account and pay yourself for driving from these funds. A separate account will also give you easy access to all of the information needed in case you are ever audited.

Start the new year with a budget.

Without knowledge of your revenue and expenses you can only guess at how your business will perform. Accumulate three to four months of information to properly reflect your spending habits. Don’t forget to budget for savings, estimated taxes, unexpected situations and lean times.

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