For truck drivers, like everyone else, tax deductions are a great way to save money. Truck driver generally don’t have time research or discuss with their accountant about these deductions. They might end up losing the benefits.
What are tax deductions?
To make it simple, tax deductions are expenses that you can subtract from your taxable income to reduce the amount of tax you have to pay.
In light of this, the next step is to find what tax deductions you can claim and which ones are most important as truck drivers.
Tax deductions on meal and lodging expenses are the most important means of tax savings for truck drivers.
Let’s take a closer look at these deductible expenses.
As a truck driver, your meal expenses are tax-deductible!
The maximum allowed deductible is 50% on your meal expenses. You can claim these meals every four hours from the time of departure and you can claim up to three meals a day. A day in this case is considered a 24-hour period from your departure time.
If you’re a long-haul truck driver you can qualify for a deductible rate of 80% instead of the general 50%. A long-haul truck is a truck that has a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 11,788 kg and is made for hauling freight. If you drive long-haul trucks to transport goods as part of your employment terms, you are considered a long-haul truck driver regardless of your employer’s business.
What qualifies you for this high rate deductible?
To qualify for this high rate deductible, you must be a long-haul truck driver and have an eligible travel period. The requirements for an eligible travel period are that you transport goods at least 160 kilometers from your employer’s establishment where you regularly report to work and that your trip lasts for at least 24 hours.
Calculating the Tax-Deductible
In general, drivers utilize two methods to make their claims: the simplified method and the detailed method.
Simplified Method for truck drivers
The simplified method, as one would imagine, is simple. All you need to do is count the number of meals on your trip, with a maximum of three meals per day, and multiply them by $23. This is your meal expense and is reported under the meals bought column on your TL2 form. The deductible amount will be 50% of this amount. Also, the $23 we used in this calculation is the meal rate used for the simplified method and it includes sales tax. When using this method, you do not need to keep your receipts as proof.
Detailed Method for truck drivers
The detailed method requires you to log the details of all your meal expenses and keep their receipts as proof. You can then report the actual amount spent as your meal expense under the meals bought column on form TL2. Again, the deductible amount will be 50% of this amount.
Batching Method for truck drivers
A third method is also available called the batching method. This method is suitable for drivers who buy their own groceries and cook their own meals, you could be doing this individually or as a group. In the case of truck drivers, this is usually done individually, if at all. Under the batching method you can claim up to $46 for each day and no receipts are required if your claims don’t exceed this amount. This is also reported under the meals bought column on form TL2.
Trips to the United States
If you are traveling to the United States as part of your duty as a transport employee, you can claim the same 50% deductible on your meal expenses. Although, in this case, your meal rate will be US $23 per meal while using the simplified method and you will have to convert to Canadian dollars before reporting the amount on the TL2 form.
There is an important factor to consider before claiming the tax deductions: You must account for nontaxable allowance or reimbursement that you receive from your employer. You can do this by subtracting the allowance or sum by your total meal expenses.
Note: You should have your employer sign form TL2 and save it in case the CRA asks for it, you don’t need to send this form in if it’s not asked for.
Lodging and Shower Expenses
If you stay in a hotel, motel, or similar accommodation when you’re on the road for your duties, you can deduct this amount as your lodging expense. You can also deduct the cost of shower facilities if you use them such as when you’re sleeping in the vehicle cabin. The records and details of all these expenses along with travel distances must be kept in case the CRA demands them.
If you are staying the night in the United States as part of your duty, you can also claim the lodging costs you incur there. You will have to convert the expenses from US dollars to Canadian dollars before you report them.
As with the meal expenses, be sure to subtract any allowance or reimbursement from your lodging and shower expenses before claiming the tax deductions.
Cell phone expenses
You may also be able to deduct a portion of your cell phone expenses or cell phone service plan cost. To do this you need to prove that the cellular minutes or data were consumed to improve the performance of your employment duties. You will also need to provide proof of these expenses.
The cost of the plan or expenses must be reasonable and have to be divided between employment and personal use.
If you do your taxes right, you’ll be saving 50% (or 80% if you’re a long-haul truck driver) on your meal expenses in taxes along with most of your lodging expenses. Understanding the way your taxes work is always helpful in keeping your mind at peace and maximizing those tax savings.