Month: September 2019

Hiring Military Veterans to Solve the Driver Shortage

hiring-military-veterans-to-solve-the-trucker-shortage

There’s been concern in the trucking industry about the current driver shortage and its effect on business and the economy; both now and in the future with good reason.  At the end of the second quarter of 2018, the shortage ballooned to a driver shortfall of nearly 300,000. With the current high number of retirements and the low number of incoming applicants, that number is only expected to grow.  

It may be a boon to truckers who can be more selective with the companies they choose to drive for, and the loads they choose to haul. Many companies are offering sign-on bonuses and other perks to attract drivers. 

Aside from bonuses, trucking companies are looking for other ways to obtain more drivers such as trying to attract more women and recent high school graduates to the profession.  There’s also a push by trucking companies to hire military veterans to fill seats, regardless of their field of expertise while in the military.

Here’s why it’s a great idea:

The military lifestyle is a regimented one.  Although the trucker lifestyle has a reputation for being carefree, it is in fact, a very structured and detail-driven profession.  Rules need to be followed, safety procedures have to be adhered to, and deadlines need to be met. This type of structure may take some getting used to for civilians who are new to the field but it may be a natural fit for military veterans.  While both jobs are regimented, they also allow significant independence.  

Time on the road.  There can be substantial  time away from home and family for extended time periods.  This isn’t easy for everyone but it is something that veterans have had experience with at some point so it may come a little easier.  Fortunately, times away from home as a trucker are usually a week at a time instead of a year deployment.  

Veterans have high safety standards.  Military members are taught from Day One of Basic Training how to live up to high standards, a trait that’s highly desired by trucking companies.  Both industries have a strong commitment to safety. In the military, safety is most important for military members’ wellbeing as well as for civilians.  Drivers also follow strict safety standards for themselves and anyone else sharing the road with them.  

Veterans may have a head start.  Many military veterans have their CDLs and/or experience driving large vehicles, and are familiar with the maintenance.  If not, there is an exemption for the road test called the “Military CDL Skills Waiver” which allows veterans who have operated certain heavy machinery to skip the road test portion of the CDL test.  To see who qualifies, visit FMCSA.  If CDL training is still required, it may be shortened depending on military experience.  Other programs for military veterans can be found here.       

For trucking companies, the benefits of hiring veterans is clear.  Aside from getting dedicated, hard-working employees, it’s a chance to pay back individuals who have done so much for the protection and freedom of our country.  Military personnel have qualities like independence, discipline, organization, dedication, and courage, trucking companies are more than eager to hire them.  

The similarities between the military and trucking industries can make the transition for veterans from a military job to a civilian job much easier.  If you’re a military veteran looking to start a career in the trucking industry, Trucker Search is the place to start. You can post your resume or search our vast database of companies looking for drivers to join their teams.  Visit Trucker Search and begin your new career today.

 

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-01/how-a-trucking-shortage-is-fueling-u-s-inflation-quicktake

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/registration/commercial-drivers-license/military-skills-test-waiver-program

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/commercial-drivers-license/military-driver-programs

What is Per Diem Pay?

what-is-per-diem

Per diem pay is a benefit that truck drivers may receive that allows them to recoup expenses from being on the road, like meals, without having to wait until tax season to file a claim.  “Per diem” means “per day” and the allowable 2019 per diem amount according to the IRS is $66, up from $63.

Benefits of Per Diem Pay 

Aside from getting a reimbursement right away for daily expenses that come along with being on the road for extended periods, there are other benefits to receiving per diem pay.  While the main benefit is receiving the payment right away, per diem pay reduces the amount of gross income the driver reports which means it might increase eligibility for public assistance or student loans because claimed income is less.  Companies who pay their drivers per diem pay are the ones who are responsible for dealing with taxes properly so the driver doesn’t have to.

Disadvantages of Per Diem Pay

There are few disadvantages to receiving per diem pay.  Because per diem pay decreases taxable income, less money is paid into Social Security and Medicare as well as into unemployment security. The amount of eligible unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits will be less if there’s ever a need to use them.  Per diem pay is also not eligible for 401K employer matches but it’s easy to make arrangements to invest some of your extra take-home pay into retirement accounts.  

Tax Code Changes

The per diem deduction used to be a benefit that all truckers could claim. However, changes in the tax code in the 2018 tax year stripped eligibility for drivers who worked for trucking companies.  It repealed the individual miscellaneous itemized deductions for unreimbursed business expenses. Drivers are able to use the standardized deduction rates ($12,000 for individuals, $24,000 for married filing jointly) but whether or not this makes up for the loss of per diem deduction depends on the specifics for each taxpayer.  For many, however, the tax change was costly.  

By losing their per diem deduction, most company drivers paid more in taxes starting in the 2018 tax year.  Before the tax changes, many truckers were deducting nearly $15,000, several thousand more than the new standardized deduction.  Even with the lowering of tax rates, the change made the amount of taxable income higher, resulting in higher taxes. In many cases, company drivers didn’t merely lose their refund but rather ended up having a several thousand dollar tax bill.  Drivers should consult with a tax advisor to see how the changes affected their taxes.  

Who Can Still Benefit?

Fortunately, companies can still offer a per diem pay benefit to their drivers and many still do.  Those drivers who are owner/operators are still eligible for the deduction and can still claim 80% of the per diem rate from their taxes.

Whether you’re an owner/operator or you’re just looking for a great company to drive for, Trucker Search can help you with your search.  Go to TruckerSearch.com today and post your resume or search the extensive database of companies who need drivers like you. 

Sources:

https://www.trustbgw.com/blog/2018/10/02/per-diem-rates-tax-reform/

https://www.irs.gov/publications/p501

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2019/04/trump-tax-bill-truckers-truck-drivers-deduction/