Bookkeeping for Truckers: A How-To Guide

Trucking is a hard enough industry to work and establish yourself in, without all the annoying but necessary admin work you have to do.

Bookkeeping falls into that category. You didn’t start trucking because you wanted to get bogged down in paperwork, but without clean books and financial records, you are operating in the blind and opening yourself up to potential issues down the road.

But, accounting for truckers doesn’t have to be hard.

Whether you choose to do the bookkeeping for your tucking business yourself or outsource to a company like K9 Bookkeeping (wink wink) to handle it for you, here is a simple and easy-to-follow guide:

How To Do Bookkeeping For Truckers?

The first step in setting up bookkeeping for truckers is determining which trucker you are: are you an owner-operator or a freight broker?

Owner-operators are independent contractors who own their trucks and operate under their authority. They may use a broker to help find loads, but they do not pay any commission fees to brokers. 

Freight brokers are companies that act as middlemen between shippers and carriers. They charge a fee for finding loads and negotiating rates. 

Once you’ve established this, you’ve got another decision to make:

Do you want to operate as a sole proprietor or incorporate (is the business operating under your name, or do you want to open it under a new business name)?

On a not-super-important note, this decision will affect how much paperwork you need to keep track of. On a serious note, it’s important to do your research to understand the implications of both options.

You may hire an accountant to help you set up your books, or you may prefer to do it yourself. Either way, you should start keeping records right away. You’ll need to know the fundamentals of trucking accounting, as you’ll be involved even if you depend on the transportation accounting services of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). 


  • Open Separate Business Accounts:

Separate your personal and business accounts so you don’t mix them up. To help keep everything separate and organized, you may want to set up a separate bank account for your trucking business. This will help you keep track of all your expenses and ensure you aren’t spending money on things that aren’t related to your trucking job. Mixing business and personal funds can make things complicated down the road (that’s a trucking pun for all of you who made it this far).

  • Choose A Legal Entity Structure:

There are two main types of entities used in the trucking industry: corporations and LLCs. Corporations are taxed differently than LLCs, which makes sense because corporations are owned by shareholders while LLCs are owned by members. In addition, corporations must file annual reports with the IRS, whereas LLCs don’t have to do that.

In order to protect themselves against lawsuits, truckers need to consider forming a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This is a separate legal entity from the driver himself. It protects the driver from being sued personally if he causes harm to others.

  • Choose An Accounting Basis

Cash basis bookkeeping is used by most truck drivers because it is simple to use and understand: it records all income and expenses on a daily basis. This method allows you to keep track of your finances easily. However, if you don’t know how much money you will make each day, you may not be able to predict your financial situation. Accrual basis accounting is used by those who want to record their profits and losses accurately. You should consult an accountant (K9 Bookkeeping can help!) to determine which method best suits your business needs.

  • Track Your Expenses And Retain Supporting Documents

Trucking companies often provide truck drivers with a bookkeeper who will help them track mileage, fuel usage, and other expenses. The bookkeeper will also make sure that drivers file accurate taxes each year. If you’re running the business or maintaining the books alone, you need to keep careful records of all of the following costs while you’re on long hauls away from home:

  • Fuel 
  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • Auto washing
  • Tolls and parking
  • Vehicle maintenance
  • Choose An Accounting Software

Thanks to the fact that we live in the Internet Age, the days of handing a bag full of receipts and spreadsheets to your accountant are long over. To help you maintain clean records and books, pick an online platform to manage all your bookkeeping. While (currently) there is no ‘accounting software for truckers’ specifically yet, (that would be very handy) QuickBooks might be your best bet. Check out Quickbooks Self-Employed, which is a great option for owner-operators.

  • Stay On Top Of Your Tax Obligations

The IRS requires all businesses to file quarterly estimated tax returns. These forms include information about the company’s net profit, taxable income, and total wages paid during the quarter, and truck drivers are no exception. 

  • The IFTA requires all trucks over 26,000 pounds to pay fuel taxes based on the distance traveled. This includes any time spent driving between two countries. The HVUT applies to heavy vehicles used for commercial purposes and is calculated based on the vehicle’s gross weight. To comply with IFTA, you must report your trips and fuel purchases quarterly. 
  • The HVUT is an additional tax imposed on commercial motor carriers who operate trucks weighing 55,000 pounds or more. This tax is based on the gross weight of the vehicle and is calculated using a formula that takes into account the distance driven and the average speed. It equals $100 plus $22 for every 1,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds up to $550 and 75,000 pounds.

We just went through a lot of information, and we have a ton of respect for all those intrepid truckers out there that are managing their books themselves.

For those who want to schedule a free consultation with their future full-time Account Manager to discuss how K9 Bookkeeping can help them focus on scaling up, call our team today!

We’re happy you found this article informative! Go back to our blog page to find more tips, tricks and guidance on bookkeeping, to ensure your business is financially sound and ready to grow to the next level.

Running a business is hard work, bookkeeping shouldn’t be. 

Let our team of professional bookkeepers take care of your books and receive accurate, detailed reports every month. Our team of experts is laser-focused on the latest trends and premier customer satisfaction, so you can always be sure you’re getting the best care and service. Your personal account manager will focus on handling your books, leaving you to focus on growing your business and leading it forward.

Click here to schedule a FREE consultation to join the hundreds of business owners already working with K9 Bookkeeping to help their businesses grow.