Whether you own a small trucking business or a large fleet, keeping the appropriate records is essential just like what the best payroll software for trucking companies did. You’ll want to have a few basic records for your company, including driver logbooks and maintenance records. These will help you understand when you still need to inspect and maintain your trucks. Likewise, if you’re involved in a trucking accident, these records can help determine who was at fault.
Logbook and electronic log records
Keeping a logbook or electronic record is one of the best ways to prove that you’re eligible for per diem expenses. This is because it will help you calculate your costs per mile and deduct those from your paycheck. In addition, you’ll be able to see how your business is doing and manage your cash flow more efficiently.
The US Department of Transportation (DOT) requires you to keep a logbook daily. It is also important to keep an accurate mileage log for each trip. The mileage log will include the number of miles driven, the date and destination of each trip, and the purpose of each trip.
The DOT will ask you to fill out a recap section in your log. You’ll need to ensure you have all the information in this section, and they may require you to answer more than one question. If you need help remembering which question to answer, you could get into trouble with the DOT.
Vehicle inspection and maintenance records
The trucking regulations set by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) require commercial trucks to be inspected and maintained regularly. Failure to do so can result in unsafe driving conditions and equipment failures. A copy of vehicle inspection and maintenance records can help determine how a truck accident was caused.
Vehicle inspection and maintenance records provide evidence of the condition of a truck’s tires and brakes. If a tire is damaged, the driver may lose control of the truck and cause a crash. If the brakes are faulty, they may not be able to stop an 80,000-pound load traveling at highway speeds. Having a record of improper maintenance can help prove the trucking company’s fault.
FMCSA record retention requirements
Keeping records in your trucking business is essential to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. A violation of these regulations can lead to penalties, fines, and other types of repercussions.
The FMCSA has established record retention requirements for different categories of records. Some of these include vehicle maintenance and driver qualification files. These records must be retained for varying periods of time.
For example, vehicle maintenance records must be kept for six months. After that, these records are inactive. However, they are still stored and protected until the end of the retention period.
Other types of records include cargo-related records, which should include details about the contents of the shipment, as well as the weight of the cargo. These records can reveal if a shipment has been overloaded or if the shipper has taken any precautions with hazardous cargo.
Tax preparation for truck drivers revolves around tracking expenses
Keeping track of all your expenses and tax-related receipts is a vital part of hauling. If you are an owner-operator, you are responsible for filing your taxes every quarter. It would be best if you tried to educate yourself about the complexities of the business. You should hire a professional or consult your friendly neighborhood accountant.
As for the best way to calculate your estimated tax, the simplest option is to use the 1040-ES form. This is a straightforward way to calculate the estimated tax for a self-employed trucker. The IRS owes a hefty 12.4% of your earnings to Social Security and Medicare. You can deduct the rest of your earnings as regular medical expenses if you itemize them on the relevant page of your Schedule A.
DOT audits requirements
DOT audits can be a daunting experience, but there are a few ways to prepare for an upcoming audit. You can also minimize your risk by following DOT requirements.
If your trucking business is a licensed carrier, you will likely be audited by the Department of Transportation (DOT) regularly. DOT is looking for abuse and ongoing safety issues. They also want to ensure all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) follow federal regulations.
To prepare for an IFTA audit, you need to have a distance accounting system in place. This means you must record your miles accurately and keep a log of all your trips.
Whether you have an automated mileage tracking system or maintain your records manually, it’s essential to have precise odometer readings. It would be best to have your odometer ping every 15 minutes.