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Trucker Per Diem Rules In The ELD Era Simply Explained

Updated: Nov 29, 2023

In this article we attempt to clear up the confusion on the rules governing trucker per diem in the ELD era.

What is per diem?

Trucker per diem is a per day travel expense allowance that eliminates the need for proving actual costs for meals & incidental expenses incurred by a driver while away from home on a truck driving trip.

When did the IRS first recognize per diem for the transportation industry?


When did IRS introduce the Special Transportation Industry daily rate per diem?


What makes the Special Transportation Industry per diem unique?

  • No meal receipts required

  • Allows $69 for meals and incidental expenses [Revised annually in October]

  • 80% tax deductible [Temporarily raised to 100% for 2021 and 2022].

  • Per diem is excluded from income and wages

Can all truck drivers can claim per diem as a federal tax deduction?

No. Only self-employed truckers.

Can motor carriers offer per diem to employee drivers?


  • Company-paid per diem is not taxable as income to an employee driver

  • Per diem is classified as a non-taxable reimbursement

Per Diem Rates

  • $69 for travel in the USA

  • $74 for travel in Canada


Per Diem Plus products are available on the Truckstop marketplace


Per Diem FAQ

Does a driver have to spend $69 everyday? No

What qualifies as a tax home? Where you park your truck when home.

Can a driver claim per diem if they live in their truck? No

Can a driver or motor carrier claim per diem for lodging? No. A receipt is required for all lodging expenses.

What are the IRS per diem substantiation requirements for trucker per diem?

Only DOT Electronic Logging Device backups or the equivalent, i.e., Per Diem Plus.

What are Incidental Expenses? Only fees and tips

Are showers & parking fees incidental expenses? No

What documentation is required to prove other expenses? Paper or electronic receipts that identify what, when and the amount.

How long should tax records be retained? No less than 3 years

What published guidance has the IRS issued that explains trucker per diem?

Have questions about trucker per diem? Request a free consultation HERE with Mark W. Sullivan, EA

About the Author

Mark W. Sullivan, EA founded Sullivan Consulting in 1998. He moved to Scottsdale, AZ in 2020 and specializes in federal tax controversy representation, appeals and consulting on behalf of individuals, businesses, law, and accounting firms nationwide. In addition, he is Tax Counsel for Per Diem Plus and has served as the consulting and expert witness in numerous civil and criminal cases in multiple federal district courts.

Mark has an unlimited Enrolled Agents license and is admitted to practice before the Internal Revenue Service based on his extensive experience as a Revenue Officer in New York, NY, St. Louis, MO and Washington, D.C.


Copyright 2023 Mark Sullivan Consulting, PLLC.

Disclaimer: This article is for information purposes only and cannot be cited as precedent or relied upon in a tax dispute before the IRS.

Additional references:

IRS Rev. Proc. 2011-47

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