Is Tax Season a Hassle for Truck Drivers?

by Katy de Vries

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – The end of April will be here before we know it and filing income tax can be a hassle for anybody, let alone a truck driver who has hours to keep track of, meal receipts floating around the cab and maintenance expenses to record.

Figuring out the inner workings of Revenue Canada when there isn’t a lot of information available is tricky enough, but this year’s tax season presents a new twist – the recently implemented deductible meal allowances are being questioned.

Truck News visited the Husky Truck Stop at Kennedy Rd and Courtney Park Rd in Mississauga to question drivers about their tax habits and to find out if tax season is a stressful time of year for them.

Vern Benn, who lives in Deseronto and drives for Roadfast of Mississauga, said he hangs onto all of his receipts (general maintenance etc.) and every couple of weeks takes them to his bookkeeper who categorizes them and prepares them for his accountant.

“I pay the bookkeeper $15 per hour, which sounds expensive, but it’s so much cheaper in the long run because it’s something that could come back to haunt you,” said Benn.

Benn said he keeps some meal receipts but generally claims the maximum allowable meal allowance (without receipts) instead.

O/O Gary Curry said it can be a hassle but his company, Brookville Carriers of Truro, N.S., has a perfect statement system set up for taxes.

“Everything is itemized, including your fuel, and everything is pretty well laid out for us. The only thing you have to worry about is your repairs and the things that you buy outside the company. We even have two per cent of our wages go into a maintenance fund for our oil changes, so even that is kept track of for us,” said Curry.

“My wife helps me look after all of my meal deductibles, but I don’t keep any of my receipts, I just claim the maximum amount allowed.”

“Tax time isn’t really a problem but I do wish there was a computer program out there that was super easy to understand,” said George McKay, an O/O for TransX of Winnipeg. “I write everything down and keep track of every penny – I have to.”

He said he keeps track on paper.

“I keep everything from each trip and once a week when I get home I go through it and keep the receipts that I can claim and throw away the ones I can’t. So at tax time, I’ve got everything ready and I hand it to my accountant. But it is all very time consuming,” said McKay. “I write down what I spend on meals too, so I keep track of my profit and loss statements. But I go with the maximum meal allowance and I calculate that from my logbook. It seems to work to my benefit. And I guess it helps that I only eat once a day.”

“It can be a bit of a pain but after 22 years on the road you get used to putting things in a certain spot. I have a system where I keep all of my receipts, and a filing system at home where I keep everything itemized and in order that way,” said Chris Bushell who drives for Lenentine Transport of Bonshaw, P.E.I. “And for meals I simply go by the logbook and take the maximum I’m allowed.” n

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