You may be a new driver who has never heard of per diem. Or, you might be a veteran driver who has never fully known what it means. This is totally normal! Truck driver per diem is a confusing and seldom explained concept. Especially with ever-changing laws, it’s hard to keep up with per diem regulations. However, it is important to know what per diem is in order to receive as much money as possible for your work as a trucker. We’ve taken the time to lay out exactly what per diem is, per diem regulations and laws for truck drivers, and common questions regarding truck driver per diem.

truck driver per diem

What is Truck Driver Per Diem?

According to the General Services Administration, per diem is “the allowance for lodging, meals, and incidental expenses.” All different types of professionals receive per diem, and it is especially important for truck drivers. Truck driver per diem is the untaxed portion of truckers’ salary. The payment is technically a reimbursement. This means that when you are completing a trucking job for a company and you need to eat a meal on the road, you will be reimbursed for that meal. Because these truckers are receiving income that is not taxed, their paychecks will be larger. However, their tax returns will consist of less money. Truck driver per diem is determined by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service).

Truck Driver Per Diem Regulations

There has been a lot of confusion about truck driver per diem after the passing of The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Because per diem deals with taxes (or lack thereof), this act has affected how and if truckers receive per diem. There are several aspects of per diem for truckers that this law did not affect. Truckers can still receive per diem for nights they are away from home. This can be a flat rate or based on how many miles the driver travels. This amount is nontaxable for the driver. Independent contractors or owner-operators are also still allowed to claim per diems as business expenses. The most important change to truck driver per diem, however, is the elimination of per diem as an unreimbursed business expense. To help pay for the law’s tax cuts, Congress eliminated the 2 percent miscellaneous itemized deductions.

Truck Driver Per Diem Questions

Some common questions that truckers ask about per diem are how to apply, how does it work, and should you participate in your company’s per diem program?  The obvious benefit of per diem is that you get more un-taxable money upfront. You can have this money more readily than you would if you waited for your tax return at the end of each year. However, the cost of this is that you will not have that money later on from your taxes, and you might spend it too hastily. Not every driver is eligible to participate in per diem programs. Usually, companies determine driver eligibility based on the number of miles he/she drives or how often the driver is on the road. Each company’s per diem program is different, and you should make sure to research your company’s plan and ask them questions specific to your salary.

Now that you know the up-to-date trucker per diem regulations and rules, you can look forward to receiving per diem and other benefits of being a truck driver! After you browse our great list of trucking jobs, make sure to ask the company you are considering working for about their per diem program. You may not be able to qualify right away, or the company may not have one in place, but look around! You’ll be sure to find a great trucking company and a great per diem program.


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