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IRS AUDITS OF OHIO OWNER-OPERATORS

Over the road trucking is a tough business, especially for the typical owner-operator. Income is often erratic, depending on the number of loads available and shipping schedules. Many trucking contracts have inflexible fuel reimbursement rates which can make for very slim profit margins. As a result, many Ohio truck drivers find themselves behind on taxes. To make matters worse, there is a cottage industry of "trucking tax specialists" out there who provide misleading, often fraudulent, advice about what a trucker can deduct on his or her tax return. It is not unusual for these "specialists" to invent expenses to artificially lower taxable income.

Because of this high incidence of overstated expenses, IRS auditors have targeted owner-operators for years. Nevertheless, there are quite a few legitimate, deductible business expenses available to an over the road truck driver. For instance, if a trucker needs to be away from home overnight he/she is entitled to a per diem deduction for food and lodging. (See http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/100120.) There is also a deduction available for a portion of a residence used for a home office and any special equipment required to run the business. Even interest paid on a fuel credit card is fully tax deductible.

Carefully documenting over the road business expenses will ensure a favorable IRS audit result. Keeping receipts and paying business expenses with a debit or credit card will help create the paper trail necessary for a positive outcome. It is also absolutely essential for drivers to keep copies of their mileage logs and DOT reports to help substantiate overnight trips and total miles driven.

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