Tax reform bill leaves truckers’ 80-percent per diem intact

December 20, 2017

Jami Jones


As the Republican-led tax reform bill heads into its final vote, language within the bill has not made any changes to per diem rates for truck drivers. That means unless there is an 11th hour change to the bill, truckers will still get to claim 80 percent of their daily per diem.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, HR1, passed the Senate early Wednesday morning and later in the House of Representatives. It now heads to President Trump’s desk for a signature.

The bill language makes some changes to per diem rates – just not for truckers. Current law has a specific section for people who operate under hours of service. It states:

274(n)(3) Special rule for individuals subject to Federal hours of service
In the case of any expenses for food or beverages consumed while away from home (within the meaning of section 162(a)(2)) by an individual during, or incident to, the period of duty subject to the hours of service limitations of the Department of Transportation, paragraph (1) shall be applied by substituting “80 percent” for “50 percent”.

HR1 has makes some changes to Section 274. However, it does not make any changes to Section 274(n)(3). In fact, it remains silent on that section, essentially leaving the provision in place. That means truckers will retain the ability to claim 80 percent per diem for nights away from home – of course this is barring any last minute amendments in the House ahead of the final vote.

“It’s our interpretation that Congress did not repeal or amend the existing 80 percent per diem for truck drivers,” said Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs. “While it’s impossible to fully understand the impact this bill will have on an individual’s overall tax liability, we believe the per diem survived the legislative process.”

The transportation workers’ special standard per diem rate remained unchanged for 2018 at $63. Outside continental U.S is $68 per day, also unchanged. Truckers are allowed to declare 80 percent of that amount as a deduction at tax time.