OOIDA sends letter to congressional leaders about per diem changes

January 7, 2019

Greg Grisolano


Changes to the tax code brought about by the landmark Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 could have a significant impact on per diem deductions for company drivers.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is asking congressional leaders in both the House and Senate to make sure the new tax law’s elimination of the ability of employee drivers to deduct 80 percent of up to $63 in daily expenses for meals on the road won’t result in those drivers “sending more of their hard-earned money to Washington.”

“We understand increases to the standard deduction for individuals and married couples filing jointly were designed to reduce the tax burden for most Americans, including employee drivers,” wrote OOIDA President and CEO Todd Spencer. “However, the per diem deduction for meals could total well over the new standard deduction of $12,000 for a driver who spends 250 days on the road annually – a working schedule that is not uncommon in our industry”

The letter was sent Monday to Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Ron Wyden, of the Senate Committee on Finance, as well as to Reps. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas.

“As you consider additional modifications to the tax code during the 116th Congress, we encourage you to explore this matter in greater detail to ensure company drivers aren’t being negatively impacted by reforms that were designed to benefit blue collar Americans,” OOIDA’s letter states. “The per diem deduction was a popular tax provision among these drivers.”

Company drivers have shared concerns with the Association that eliminating the per diem deduction could lead to greater tax exposure them under the new law.

Collin Long, OOIDA’s director of federal affairs, says the uncertainty surrounding the new tax code could benefit some drivers while harming others.

“We’re not entirely certain how the recent changes to the tax code will impact employee drivers. For some, the new tax structure may be beneficial,” Long said. “However, we need to make sure congressional tax writers are aware some drivers may see their taxes increase as a result of the changes. If that is the case, elected officials need to be prepared with a strategy to provide relief for these truckers.”