We are coming up to tax time. That time of year that has the accounting professionals going at full tilt to get taxes filed for clients. Owner operators have been scrambling to get receipts organized and in order for their accountant. Some people are in good moods and others depressed based on what they think they have to pay as business owners or tax paying citizens. The real question that lingers is this, “Are you leaving money on the table as a truck driver?”
Depending on whether you have good or bad memories of dealing with a revenue agency will depend on how involved you are with your taxes. Maybe you have never thought about your taxes especially as an employee? But you could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table if you don’t take taxes seriously. Here is what I mean.
I was training new drivers on logbooks and the importance of keeping records and are in the middle of a discussion about how long the records have to be kept. As per the regulations for logbooks they must be kept for six months for audit purposes with transportation authorities from a company standpoint. I then mentioned that if they are being used for tax purposes they should be kept for seven years. This didn’t cause much reaction until I mentioned the next part.
I then began to talk about the “per diem” program for employees that work out of town and are allowed to claim a certain amount of money for each meal on the road without receipts. The logbooks now become supporting documents for those claims with the revenue agency. The amount a driver can claim may be in the thousands of dollars. You wanted to be a fly in the room that day as quite a few driver’s jaws fell to the ground as they had been throwing out their logbooks and hadn’t claimed their meals. One driver estimated he had lost a claim of around $6000 per year in legitimate meal expenses.
These claims are available to employees and if an owner operator has set up their business properly they are able to claim the meals under the same system. There is a form that has to be signed by your company saying you don’t receive compensation for your meals. You then take that form to your accountant and they can apply that amount to your taxes where you will receive a refund.
If you haven’t been claiming your meals then now is the time to start. If you think of the amount of time a driver spends on the road this is not a small amount of money that could be put back into the pockets of drivers. Many complain drivers don’t make enough money, yet many are leaving that money on the table due to a lack of knowledge of tax laws like the meal expense allowance. You are allowed to go back a certain amount of time so check with your accountant to find out the particulars if you haven’t been claiming up to now. Don’t leave money on the table, it’s your money!
About the Author
Bruce Outridge has been in the transportation industry for over 30 years. He is an author of the books Driven to Drive and Running By The Mile, consultant, podcast host, and speaker. TTSAO also known as the Truck Training Schools Association of Ontario has certified member schools in the truck training vocation ensuring quality entry level drivers enter the transportation industry. To learn more about the TTSAO or to find a certified school in your area visit www.ttsao.com