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Truckers Pay: Four Questions You Can’t Avoid

Learn more about truckers’ pay with these four questions and answers you can’t avoid.

How Much do Truckers Pay For Diesel?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports determined the cost of a gallon of fuel depends on four factors.

  1. The cost of crude oil from refineries

    • Diesel consists of crude oil. The price of diesel will rise as crude oil costs rise.
  2. Refining costs and profits

    • If a hurricane hits the Gulf Coast, many raw oil refineries would be damaged, and crude oil prices would rise.
  3. Distribution and retail costs

    • Due to the rise in fuel prices, retailers would also raise rates to compensate for slim profit margins.
  4. Taxes and fees

    • Federal, regional, state, and local fees also play a part in the price of fuel.

Truckers generally pay for fuel with cash or credit. The caveat for credit is that there is usually a slightly higher price per gallon when compared to the cash price. Truckers often use fuel cards as a way to finance some of their fuel costs to loosen the belt a bit around their expenditures.

For more on fuel costs and shipping, refer to our blog post.

How Do Truckers Pay Taxes?

Every tax return is different if you contribute to the trucking industry. Taxes for drivers must also be understood as to which expenses are deductible and which aren’t. Find out why truckers need a tax home, how to use tax forms, how to take deductions, and when to seek professional assistance.

A Tax Home

For some exemptions, truckers should maintain a tax home. The IRS will not allow these deductions if you claim certain long-range expenses without having a tax home.

The IRS describes a tax home as the city or the whole area where you operate. The tax home is not necessarily your city of residence. Make sure you manage the tax home when you are an owner-operator if you’re using a house as a tax home. For example, the IRS may find that you did not live there, nor did you help pay rent or any other living expenses. Upon audit, the IRS can refuse to allow more certain expenditures resulting in substantial tax penalties.

Filing Taxes

Most companies provide drivers with a W-2 form that reports their salaries and earnings. You can not use the short form or Form 1040EZ to deduct the trucking industry. The IRS enables truck drivers to deduct business costs that are “ordinary and necessary.”


Maintenance of trucks

You may be able to deduct this cost if you pay off-pocket for truck maintenance and supplies.

Union or Professional Association fees

You can deduct them from your taxable income if you pay fees as part of a trade union or trucking industry organization.

Mobile phones

You can subtract the associated costs from your tax return if you have a cell phone you use only to work.

Travel expenses

You can exclude overnight charges, including hotels and per diem expenses, if you have a tax home.

How Do Truckers Pay Tolls?

Most truckers do not pay tolls from their own pockets and are reimbursed, given that they provide receipts or logs from their transponders. Most of the time, with exception to a few toll roads (Oklahoma), the transponder in their cab takes care of the tolls and reimbursement. Programs such as E-ZPass and Prepass are most common in the United States.

How Does Trucking Pay Work?

There are several ways that truckers get paid

Mileage Pay

Mileage pay is the most common form of compensation in the industry.

Hourly Pay

For shorter and local routes, pay per hour is typical. Based on your background, schedule, and consumer contact, hourly pay can differ from entry-level to higher pay levels.

Load Sharing

Many truck owner-operator drivers get load-pay shares where the gross or revenue of the products supplied to the company is being shared.

For more information, please refer to our in-depth article on how truckers get paid.

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