In the March issue of RoadStar, Senior Editor Patricia Smith puts these common questions to Todd Knapp, a Portland, Ore.-based certified public accountant who specializes in trucking.
Knapp notes that the standard deduction for meals and incidental expenses for truckers is $38 a day for travel within the continental U.S. and $42 for travel outside the U.S. This is a special allowance for transportation workers. To qualify, you don't have to travel nationwide, but you do have to travel to areas with different federal per diem rates during any one trip.
The rate includes "incidental" expenses such as tips and laundry. Other travel expenses, such as lodging and lodging taxes, taxi fares, and business-related phone calls, are claimed separately.
If you use the standard allowance you don't need receipts (although it doesn't hurt to keep them), but you must be able to prove the travel. Logbooks are usually enough.
Knapp answers more questions on meal deductions, what happens if you live in your truck, claiming a loss on the sale of your truck, the deductibility of maintenance contracts, home office deductions, retirement savings and many other common tax questions.