June 6, 2019

Truckers saw average incomes rise 21 percent in 2018, accounting firm says.

Increased pay was driven by tax reform, tight freight capacity, ATBS said.

By DC Velocity Staff

American truckers' incomes rose last year from an average of $43,093 in 2017 to $52,180 in 2018, according to an analysis of tax returns done by transportation industry consulting and bookkeeping firm American Truck Business Services (ATBS).

That 21 percent rise in the average owner-operator's taxable Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was predominantly related to a booming year in the transportation industry, Lakewood, Colo.-based ATBS said.

Economic forecasters say the U.S. freight market has dropped somewhat in recent months from its historic highs of 2019, but is forecast to remain "moderately positive" through 2020.

Despite that large jump in income, truckers' average tax liability increased only modestly, rising 12.6 percent, ATBS said. That discrepancy pushed the overall effective tax rate for owner-operators down from 19.1 percent in 2017 to 17.8 percent in 2018.

ATBS listed three reasons for the reduction in owner-operator tax liability, each related to provisions in the Trump Administration's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:

  • 68 percent of ATBS' owner-operator clients took advantage of the Qualified Business Income deduction,
  • the average client's Standard Deduction jumped from $9,439 to $18,862,
  • the average owner-operator depreciation deduction increased from $17,072 to $20,965.

Results are based on preliminary data drawn from an analysis of over 3,000 tax returns, ATBS said.

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