When you're a busy truck driver with your own business, it's often difficult to find a spare moment to even think about tax affairs, which is why it can feel like such a burden when it finally comes around.
To avoid feeling like this, there are small things you can do to keep tax matters simple, even if you're spending many nights away from home with limited or no access to the internet or a computer. To get the ball rolling, here are some of the concerns that Australian Truck Drivers may have, along with our suggestions to make tax time a breeze.
Maintaining proper records of business expenses such as invoices and receipts will ensure that you're not scrambling at the finish line. A small investment of time now saves lots of work later and stashing receipts in the glove compartment doesn't count! Keeping paperwork together in a file, or saving a photo of them on your phone, laptop or other device means there's less chance of them fading, being misplaced - or even worse mistakenly discarded. Some expenses might not require receipts as bank statements may be sufficient, however when you're unsure it's best to keep as much evidence as possible.
Every truck driver knows that spending a long time on the road means that you'll have no choice but to eat the majority of meals on the go, which raises questions such as how much can you claim on meals and is there a set budget that you should be following?
The answer has been clarified by the ATO which has determined the "reasonable amounts" for meals, which can be used as a guide when setting a budget for daily expenditure. This can also be a simple way to improve your bottom line as small daily financial choices have a compounding effect throughout an entire year.
Spending nights away from your home also means there will likely be accommodation or other travel-related expenses, which you can request tax receipts for that can be emailed to you. Then there's communication, technology, parking, tolls, workwear and so the list goes on. Knowing what you can and can't claim for ensures you're getting the best tax benefits available to you each year. If in doubt, call your accountant! They're there to serve you, and no question is a silly one, so don't hesitate to give them a bell with any of your tax questions.
Yes! The ATO has created some helpful digital tools that can assist when it comes to claiming your deductions and declaring income, so you don't have to worry if you're not able to get to a computer. There's also a free smartphone app which you can download and use for creating and digitally filing copies of tax receipts when you're on the road, helping keep track of your records when you don't have the comforts of home. There are also links to Tax Rulings as they apply to truck drivers, along with calculators and other nifty features like expense trackers. Sound useful? You can download the ATO guide for long and short distance truck drivers here.
It's common for most people to find the tax and legal system complicated and it's no different for truck drivers. One of the biggest frustrations is that it can be challenging to try and figure things out on your own with a myriad of complex tax legislation to navigate.
Working out what is and isn't a tax deduction, for example, shouldn't be a guessing game and is a discussion best had with your accountant, so give them a quick call if you're ever uncertain to clarify your concerns. By using a professional accountant, you'll not only save time and headaches but can confidently avoid potential penalties for non-compliance.
About the Author - Dale Beck
At Murray Nankivell Accountants, we're focused on advising farmers, truck drivers, and rural Australian businesses so they can succeed financially and in all areas of their life and business.
If you, a friend or loved one would like additional advice about tax advice for your trucking company or business, please contact us at Murray Nankivell on firstname.lastname@example.org or by phoning us on 08 8752 8888.
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