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Tune up your books

Hard-working truck drivers deserve every nickel that they’re entitled to get back from Revenue Canada, so make it easier for yourself and your accountant. “Don’t just throw all your receipts in a box,” says Cleo Hamel,...


Hard-working truck drivers deserve every nickel that they’re entitled to get back from Revenue Canada, so make it easier for yourself and your accountant. “Don’t just throw all your receipts in a box,” says Cleo Hamel, senior tax analyst for H&R Block Canada. She suggests owner/operators, whether self-proprietors or incorporated entities, should be sorting receipts and keeping track of expenses.

“From a business perspective, you should have an idea of how your company is doing,” she says. “You should review your expenses on a monthly basis: fuel, maintenance, meals, lodging and other administrative expenses should be clearly recorded.”

Long-distance truckers are entitled to claim for meals and lodging expenses. Most long-haul truckers who file meal expenses do so using the simplified method, which allows them $17 per each meal on the road without receipts, up to a maximum of three per day.

Drivers are allowed to claim 80% of the total meal expenses if they are away from the home terminal (outside of a 160-km radius) for 24 hours or more. Short-haul truckers who travel more than a 160-km radius from their home terminal can also claim for meals after 12 hours on-duty, and are allowed to claim for 50% of that amount. Those drivers using the detailed method must keep accurate meal receipts and corresponding logbook entries.

Deductions for meal and lodging expenses are a big deal for drivers whether they are company employees, self-proprietors or incorporated. The catch is that the company you haul for has to be engaged in transportation as its primary focus. Each driver has to get a TL2 form certified by their respective employer indicating they are indeed working for a transportation company.

This means that a driver employed hourly or as a contractor for a company whose primary focus is logging or making steel coils, may not qualify for meal exemptions. Those drivers require a T-2200 form certified by the employer indicating “conditions of employment,” showing that they are indeed long-distance or regional truck drivers.

“Always keep a logbook. Even if you may not qualify for the TL2, with the proof of the 2200 form you can still write off some of your expenses,” adds Hamel.

As mentioned above, logbooks can be crucial pieces of evidence when it comes to claiming “on-road” expenses, especially meals. H&R Blocks’ Hamel offers some caution when it comes to electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) which destroy saved data and driving performance records after six months. “You’re required to keep your records for seven years,” says Hamel. “The CRA can come back after you in three, four, five, six years. If you’re using an electronic logbook, make sure you get a print-out every month.”

Hamel suggests that some drivers should not overlook legitimate deductions, even if they don’t qualify for meal deductions.

“If you’re a trucker paying to stay in a motel overnight, and it’s part of your job, you should be allowed to claim it.” She also thinks that some rulings by the CRA can be arbitrary and can be successfully challenged. “It really is important that you’ve got good records, but if you believe you are correct you shouldn’t be scared to fight it,” she says.


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1 Comment » for Tune up your books
  1. tbradius says:

    I’ve been on the search for a tune up recently. It would be nice to have my vehicle well tuned so it would ride smoother. Would anyone have any suggestions as to where to have it done? I currently would like to have it done next month.

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