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Tax Deductions for Trucking Supplies: What You Need to Know

The arrival of fall means truck drivers start seeing things pick up on the business side as well, especially in advance of the holiday season, which always brings with it, more loads to haul. The increased activity makes fall the perfect time to start thinking about taxes.

Truck drivers file their taxes as either self-employed independent contractors or employees of their carriers. How they file determines the kinds of deductions they can take for the trucking supplies they purchase. Those supplies can include everything from truck tarps to protective clothing to in-cab electronics.



Before we get into the differences between filing as a self-employed individual and a company employee, we need to first discuss state and federal taxes. The IRS is the primary taxing authority in this country. States do assess their own taxes, but they tend to defer to the federal government. For example, those that collect income tax will often rely on federal calculations for things such as deductions and taxable income. Therefore, it is of vital importance that truck drivers understand the federal regulations to keep the IRS happy and correctly file state returns.

Filing as an Independent Contractor

The IRS regards independent contractors as self-employed individuals operating their own businesses. There can be some gray areas depending on the relationship of the truck driver to the company or companies he or she hauls for, so any questions about tax status should be referred to an experienced tax attorney.

The independent contractor who truly qualifies as self-employed under the law can essentially deduct any and all trucking supplies obtained for the purposes of conducting business. This would immediately bring to mind things like truck tarps and cargo control equipment such as bungee cords, chains and straps, wide load flags, etc. But it also includes other things as well.

For example, a trucker required to invest in steel-toed boots and a hard hat in order to haul certain kinds of loads would be able to deduct those expenses as long as the purchased items are used exclusively for work. The same holds true for things such as GPS units, hand tools, and so on.

Filing as a Company Employee

The number of deductions allowed for company employees can be significantly less depending on how trucking supplies are obtained. Anything an employer gives directly to the driver is obviously not deductible. A driver also cannot deduct the cost of any trucking supplies for which he or she is reimbursed by the employer.

With those restrictions understood, the same kinds of things qualify for deductions. Drivers can deduct cargo control supplies, protective clothing, electronics, hand tools, and even limited transportation expenses. For example, if a trucker has to fly to some specific destination to pick up a truck, the cost of airfare and accommodations can usually be deducted if not reimbursed by the employer.

The one thing to be aware of for both independent contractors and company employees are deductions for meals. This is one area where IRS regulations are ambiguous. The reason is simple: truck drivers have to eat just like every other kind of worker. The fact that they eat while on the road does not change that. So just like an office worker cannot deduct groceries as a business expense, truck drivers can only deduct meal expenses under certain conditions.

Truck drivers can use work-related expenses to reduce the tax liabilities. This is actually a smart thing to do. But truckers need to be careful, too. If they don’t know what they’re doing, they should leave their taxes to the professionals.

Horizontal or Vertical: How Do You like Your E-Track Straps?

When you walk into a store that sells cargo control supplies and ask for e-track straps, and you’ll have to choose between horizontal and vertical. Yes, there are two kinds of e-track for different types of cargo control strategies. Both work the same way. The only difference is how the anchor points are presented in relation to the length of the track. The difference though, is important to certain types of loads.



Horizontal E-Track

The more commonly used of the two e-track options is horizontal. The track gets its name from the fact that it is designed to be mounted horizontally along the inside of a dry goods or a box truck, either on the walls or along the floor. As for the anchor points, these are engineered to be perpendicular to the top and bottom edges of the track.

Box trucks are the ideal environment for horizontal e-track because they tend to haul all sorts of loads that don’t necessarily take up all of the dead space in the box. Horizontal tracks offer the maximum number of anchor points for an unlimited combination of cargo control strategies.

For example, a truck driver could use load bars that stretch across the entire width of the box to keep cargo from moving front to back or vice versa. Provided that a load is secure from side to side, load bars may be all that’s necessary to keep things in place. The main advantage of load bars is that they can be deployed and removed in just seconds. They have specially designed ends that slip quickly into anchor points and snap into place.

Loads requiring a bit more control can be secured with bungee cords, ropes, or mesh straps. Drivers can use the built-in anchor points or attach D-rings, hooks, or other anchor points as needed. And because horizontal tracks can be secured quickly and easily with screws, it doesn’t take much to outfit a trailer or box truck with the appropriate number of e-tracks in just minutes.

Vertical E-Track

Vertical e-tracks are names so as they designed to be installed vertically. The anchor points are engineered to be parallel to the inside and outside edges of the track, making it possible to adjust the height of load bars, straps, and bungee cords. A vertical system is preferred when the height of hauled loads changes from trip to trip.

Some flatbed truckers have found creative ways to use vertical e-track by attaching it right to the bed of the trailer. This provides anchor points that run parallel to the outside edges of the trailer, giving drivers plenty of options for tying down cargo. Having said that, e-track should not be relied on as the sole means of anchor points for flatbed loads. They should offer only supplemental anchor points for extra anchoring or to secure tarps over loads that have already been solidly anchored.

We Carry E-Track

When shopping for e-track, look for a galvanized product made of high-grade steel. Mytee Products carries both horizontal and vertical e-track in 12-gauge galvanized steel with anchor points every 2 inches. We sell them in 5-foot lengths for easy configuration.

As with any of your trucking supplies, quality means something. Paying a little extra for a high-quality product goes a long way toward saving money in the future by not having to replace your products as often. Please take a look at our e-track along with related items such as ratchet straps, cam straps, load bars, and cam buckles. We have everything you need to keep your cargo safe and secure.

Securing Your Cargo Is a Safety Concern

Flatbed trucker drivers are well aware of their responsibility towards the cargo they carry from the moment they hook a trailer. They also know that load securement is a matter of complying with the law and protecting the interests of both shipper and receiver. However, load security is also a safety concern. It applies not only to the cargo itself, but also to the truck tarps a driver uses to protect and secure the cargo in his charge.

During a recent news story covered by Portland television station KATU, Oregon State Police Sergeant Yvette Shepherd said that truck drivers “do what they are supposed to do” 90% of the time. Unfortunately, it is that 10% that can do the damage. During a ride-along with Sergeant Shepherd, the KATU reporter witnessed a number of serious problems including one truck that lost a tarp at 65 mph. The tarp struck a van following behind it, wrapping itself around the axle.

Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident. Nevertheless, things could have been far worse. Imagine the damage a tarp flying straight off its load and landing on the windshield of a trailing car could do? Add a bit of momentary panic, and that driver could react in a way that sends his/her car off the road and causes harm to himselff or other drivers on the road.


Take the Extra Time

We realize that a majority of truckers are quite responsible about making sure their tarps are properly applied and secured. We want to encourage our readers to take the required time to protect every load they transport. It only takes a few minutes, but the time spent could ultimately save someone’s life. Before you drive off, make sure you check:

•Tie-Downs – Whatever you use to secure your tarps should be checked one last time before you pull away. This includes ropes, bungee cords, tie down straps, and chains. Being vigilant about cords and ropes helps, because these tend to fray and wear over time.

•Grommets – When grommets come loose from the fabric of the tarp, they begin posing a safety risk. Follow the rule that a loose grommet is a failed grommet, and that it needs to be replaced as soon as possible. A truck driver does not want a complete small grommet failing his cargo on the freeway.

•Wind Pockets – Pockets that can catch the wind cause truck tarps to flap, come loose and ultimately become a truck drivers nightmare as it affects his/her time efficiency while driving. While it is not possible to prevent every wind pocket, wind pocket troubles can be minimized by applying tarps as tightly as possible and securing them with cargo protectors. An extra bungee cord or two might be all that is required to close a potential pocket.

•Loose Material – Lastly, any loose material that tends to flap in the breeze should be attended to. This is not as much a short-term safety issue as it is a long-term wear concern. Preventing flapping will extend the life of your tarps and better protect your cargo.At the end of the day, the tarps need to last as long as possible.

As always, load securement is something that should be checked within 50 miles of departure. After that, it is always a good idea to check the cargo during fuel stops or rest breaks. One can never check a load too many times during the trip.

If you are among the flatbed truckers who strive to be the best at what you do, we encourage you to keep doing what you do. If you like to do things on the easier side, please consider the repercussions of your actions on others. Securing your truck load is not only a matter of protecting the cargo between the shipper and receiver, is it a concern for safety.


1.KATU –

Tips for Using RV and Trailer Covers

Now that the autumn season is upon us, RV and travel trailer owners are putting their vehicles away for the winter. Many of them will use an RV or trailer cover to protect their units from the weather. There are pros and cons to this strategy, as evidenced by the fair amount of disagreement that exists among RV and trailer owners. We will let you decide whether it’s the right strategy for you or not.

With that said, we do have some helpful tips should you decide to cover your RV or trailer with a winter cover. The tips are designed to make sure your cover does not damage your vehicle during the winter months. We want you to be able to uncover and go next spring without any problems.

1. Properly Secure Your Cover

Make sure to properly secure your cover with bungee cords or ropes. You do not want any portion of the cover to be loose enough to flap in the wind. Any flapping can cause cosmetic damage to the outside of your vehicle by way of grommets striking the surface. Continual striking can even loosen the grommets.

2. Create a Crown

It is a good idea to create a slight crown across the top of your vehicle so that the cover is not laying flat on the roof. Modern vehicles have air-conditioning units that make this task easier. You can also use things such as foam blocks and winter swimming pool inflatables to create the crown. The point is to create a surface that will allow precipitation and leaves to run off the top rather than collecting on the roof of your vehicle.

3. Check Cover Condition

Unless you are using a brand-new cover right out-of-the-box, it is a good idea to inspect your cover before putting it on. You are looking primarily for holes that can allow moisture in. The problem with moisture is that if it becomes trapped under the cover, it could cause a number of problems. Caulking could become moldy, aluminum parts could start to rust, and so on. You want the surface underneath to remain completely free of moisture throughout the winter months.

4. Beware of Abrasion

RV and trailer covers will not usually suffer rips and tears under normal conditions. The enemy of these covers is abrasion. You can get the most life out of your cover by reducing exposure to abrasive surfaces such as mirrors (fold them in), antennas (retract them), and roof vents (close them). If there are any potentially abrasive surfaces around windows or doors, you can reduce the friction by using foam padding or electrical tape.

Ordering a new RV or trailer cover is a matter of getting the right size. Although you do not want a cover that is excessively large, having one that is slightly too big is definitely better than purchasing one that is too small. The good news is that covers come in standard sizes. You just need to measure the length, width, and height of your unit to know what to order.

For RVs, measure the length from tail to nose and the height from the roofline down to the bottom of the chassis. Do not measure down to the ground. Also, there is no need to account for air-conditioning units. Manufacturers already take them into consideration when designing their covers.

For trailers, measure the height the same way. For length, there is no need to account for the tongue. You only need to measure the actual size of the trailer shell. Width measurements are pretty straightforward regardless of the RV or trailer unit you have.