Easy and Stress-Free Tax Tips for TruckersFebruary 20, 2012
As an owner-operator, being your own boss means you’re in charge of every aspect of your trucking business—including your taxes. But filing your taxes doesn’t have to be a big headache. Here are some simple tax tips that will make filing this year’s return easier:
• Round up your records. Make sure you keep all of your receipts, and organize them as you go. One way to do so is by designating a large envelope for each month of the year. Also include canceled checks, credit card and bank account statements, and any other documents that support the income and deductions you plan to claim.
• Watch the mail for your tax documents. Be sure to keep an eye out for your W-2s, 1099s and other tax statements, all of which should be arriving soon. You’ll need these to file your tax return. Put them in a safe place along with your other records until you’re ready to use them.
• Start early. Waiting until the last minute is bound to increase stress. So start early and take the time to complete your return correctly. Doing so could end up saving you both time and money.
• Visit the official IRS website . The IRS website at www.irs.gov is a great place to find everything you need to file your tax return: forms, publications, tips, answers to frequently asked questions and updates on tax law changes. Be sure to check out IRS Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax. It’s a comprehensive resource for taxpayers, highlighting everything you’ll need to know when filing your return.
• Take advantage of deductions. Your expenses related to running and operating your trucking business are legitimate deductions. Check out our previous posting for a list of common deductions for owner-operators.
• Try IRS e-file. IRS e-file is the safe, easy and most common way to file a tax return. Last year, 79% of taxpayers—106 million people—used IRS e-file. And many tax preparers are now required to use e-file. If you owe taxes, you have options to file and pay immediately to help you meet the tax deadline. Best of all, the IRS issues refunds to 98% of electronic filers by direct deposit within 14 days of when you file, if there are no problems, and some are issued in as few as 10 days. To learn more about e-file, visit the IRS website.
• Use Free File. If you made $57,000 or less, you qualify to use Free File, a free tax software offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. And if you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there’s Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit the IRS website for more information on the software and forms.
• Consider other filing options. Depending on your tax-preparation skills and how complicated your return is, you may want to consider hiring an individual tax preparer or a tax-preparation firm. You may even be eligible for free face-to-face help at a volunteer site. Be sure to weigh all the options and find the one that best suits your needs.
• File an extension if you need one. Failing to file your returns on time can result in fines, delayed refunds and even serious legal implications. But if you just can’t meet this year’s April 15 deadline, you do have an option to file for an. To find out if you qualify, visit the IRS website.
• Review! Review! Review! Don’t rush. We all make mistakes when we rush. Mistakes slow down the processing of your return. Be sure to double check all the Social Security numbers and math calculations on your return as these are the most common errors.
• Ask for help. If you run into a problem, don’t panic. The IRS truly wants to help. Use the Interactive Tax Assistant available on the IRS website to find answers to your tax questions about credits, deductions, general filing questions and more. You can also call your local IRS office.
Because tax laws are complex and deductions change annually, it’s a good idea to consult a tax professional to ensure compliancy, accuracy and certainty that all opportunities to reduce tax liability are considered.