Most of you have had your accountant working on your 2012 income tax by now. I hope you’re using someone with trucking experience, for obvious reasons. If not, or if you suspect your trucking number cruncher needs a few LEDs replaced or is too rushed, it wouldn’t hurt to ask a few questions to be sure you’re not leaving money on the table.
Here are some commonly overlooked deductions and best tax practices you should be aware of. These are courtesy of Richard DeForest, vice president of fleet sales for ATBS, the nation’s largest owner-operator financial services provider.
- For expenses where no receipt is available, such as coin-operated truck wash, make entries in a notebook of what the expense is, its date, location and amount. No fiction, cautions DeForest: “The IRS people are very smart.”
- Along those lines, keep note of miles driven in a personal vehicle for business purposes, such as to the bank or a parts store. You can write off 55 cents a mile.
- It’s always good practice to keep a business credit card separate from personal cards, but it’s especially helpful if you expect the IRS to let you write off interest on business-related credit.
- “Renters credit/homestead credits are often overlooked and yet, in one example we saw, these can cause a swing from paying the IRS a few hundred dollars to getting a refund from the IRS of a few hundred dollars,” DeForest says. Ask your tax preparer if you’re not sure whether your state has such a credit.
- Don’t overlook the lesser-known aspects of per diem deductions. “For instance there is an allowance for rider per-diem when an OO has a rider and also for partial per diem when the driver is away from home for part of day,” DeForest says.
Finally, here are the five most commonly overlooked driver deductions, according to Scott Christensen, vice president of tax services at Equinox Owner-Operator Solutions, writing for HDT: uniform, laundry, satellite radio, cell phone, and fees for financial services (ATM, bank, credit card).