Tax Advice for 1099 Truck Drivers: Deductions You Need to Know About

September 16, 2022
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It takes hard work and dedication to make it as a self-employed trucker. 1099 truck drivers aren’t just driving a truck — they’re running their own business at the time! 

There are a lot of different pieces to manage, from driving and taking care of the truck, to finding jobs and staying safe on the interstate. It’s not easy, but you do it because you value the freedom and you’re not afraid of putting in the work. At the end of the year, you’ve got to prepare and file all the tax paperwork for your business as well. 

But even independent business owners don’t have to figure out everything alone. Take a moment now and save yourself a headache later by getting tax advice for 1099 truck drivers from the experts.  

How Do 1099 Truck Drivers File Taxes? 

How do truck drivers file taxes when they don’t have an employer handling most of it for them? If you’ve never done it on your own before, tax preparation can seem intimidatingly complicated, but it’s not that hard once you get the hang of it. 

Freelance owner-operator truck drivers legally operate their own small business, so they have to file taxes accordingly. You should expect to receive an IRS Form 1099 from each client, which serves as the official record of your income. 

You’ll report your income on your personal tax return with IRS Form 1040, and you’ll attach Form 1040 Schedule C as a specific report about your business profits and expenses. 

How to Maximize Tax Deductions as a 1099 Truck Driver 

The most important thing to know about independent contractor truck driver taxes is that you can deduct your business expenses from your taxable income. Many expenses qualify for deductions, and maximizing your savings means keeping track of all of them. 

To claim every deduction you qualify for, record your expenses and keep the receipts throughout the year. Track and record everything, so you don’t need to hunt down receipts when tax season comes around. 

Claiming specific business expenses as deductions does not mean you need to itemize expenses on your personal tax return. Your business deductions and your personal deductions are two separate categories, which means you can claim the standard deduction on your personal tax return and still go on to claim all available business deductions as well.  

Go to an accounting professional for small business tax advisory services. You can also ask for a truck driver expenses worksheet to help you keep track of all the regular costs you can deduct from your income.  

4 Types of Tax Deductions Truckers Need to Know About in 2022

Nearly anything you spend for the sake of your business can be deducted when filing your taxes. Here are just a few of the most common and significant 1099 truck driver tax deductions: 

1. Truck Upkeep Costs

As a 1099 trucker, you depend on your vehicle. It’s central to everything you do to make money, and it’s the biggest source of expenses. Don’t leave any costs behind when you file vehicle-related expenses for deductions. 

You can’t claim the IRS standard mileage rate for your truck expenses, but your total costs will likely end up higher than the standard rate, anyway. Here are some big truck costs you can deduct: 

  • Truck maintenance
  • Vehicle insurance
  • Vehicle depreciation
  • Loan interest or rent on the truck itself
  • Fuel 
  • Registration

2. Life on the Road

Many tax deductions for self-employed truck drivers have to do with travel. If you are a long-haul trucker, you can deduct a lot of living expenses incurred while traveling away from your home base:

  • Costs of lodging
  • 80 percent of meals 
  • Other items purchased for personal use exclusively while on the road 

3. Taxes and Fees

The IRS requires you to pay various trucking-related taxes to do the work you do. All the truck taxes and registration fees are part of the basic cost of 1099 trucking, so they also qualify as business expenses:

  • Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax
  • Self-employment taxes
  • Training and fees for your CDL
  • Any subscription or membership fees for professional associations

4. Other Business Costs

Some business expenses you claim will be unique to your career in self-employed trucking, while others may be no different from the average office or local store. However mundane the expenses, they should not be included in your final taxable income. Here are some of the many common deductible business costs:  

  • Business-related insurance premiums
  • Health insurance premiums
  • Mandatory medical examinations if not covered by insurance
  • Work tools and cleaning supplies
  • Business-related cell phone costs

What Expenses Can’t be Claimed as a Truck Driver

Tax write-offs for truck drivers can include all sorts of things, but they don’t include everything. You can’t deduct costs for fuel or other vehicle expenses when using the vehicle for any personal travel. You also can’t deduct meal costs when you are still in your local home area. 

Furthermore, you cannot claim a standard per diem rate for lodging while on the road away from home, although you can claim deductions for specific lodging expenses. Other items purchased can only be claimed for deductions if they are for business and not everyday personal use. 

Common Tax Mistakes Truck Drivers Make

Freelance truckers tend to leave a lot of available deductions behind when they file their taxes on their own. They don’t realize just how many business expenses are perfectly eligible to be deducted from their taxable income. 

The biggest mistake 1099 truck drivers make on their taxes is waiting to think about their taxes until April. If you want to make the work easy for yourself, and if you want to actually keep your costs down, you need to be thinking about your tax return all year long. 

This doesn’t mean you must put in a lot of work on your taxes throughout the year. The best thing you can do to prepare for filing taxes is simply to save your receipts and keep track of your expenses, day after day and month after month.  

Hire a Tax Professional 

You’ll save both time and money by getting someone who knows the system on your side. A good tax professional can guide you through the process and ensure you claim all the truck driver tax deductions you might be eligible for without leaving any savings on the table. 

Tax preparation for truck drivers isn’t so simple, and you didn’t get into this work to spend your time poring over IRS fine print. Make your life easier and start working with the experts at 1-800Accountant. There’s no one better when it comes to tax advice for 1099 truck drivers. 

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. 1-800Accountant assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.