This page is dedicated to truckers, primarily owner/operators and those desiring to become owner/operators. Why? Because I used to own four trucks and six trailers and had them all running around the country at the same time - while also managing my CPA practice - until the summer of 2006 when I decided to get out of trucking. The 515 hp, 18-speed 2003 Peterbilt 387 and 2001 Dorsey reefer pictured below were my last truck and trailer ... and they were beauties!! And yes, I do have a CDL and am one of the only CPA's you will probably ever know that can back a 53 foot trailer into a hole at a grocery warehouse and then lump the entire load.
This page will give you some guidance on getting your own operating authority and some financial tools I developed to manage my business. It might be worth your while to obtain professional advice from an organization such as the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA).
If you are looking to purchase a truck and trailer, there is no better place I have found on the Internet than Truckpaper.com.
If you do get your own authority, you'll need to find your own freight. The best place I have found for that is The Internet Truckstop. For about $55 per month you can look for loads to or from a desired location, post your truck for freight brokers to see and, speaking of brokers, check out their credit history and days to pay ... to which you always add 5-10 days.
Getting Your Authority
First you need to decide if this is something you really want to do. It is a real financial commitment but the rewards are the best in trucking.
Following is an outline of the steps necessary to begin operating under your own authority. A lot of online "Get Your Own Authority" websites charge up to $695 and even more. But you don't have to pay that because you can learn how to do it yourself right here for FREE!! The most confusing aspect about getting your own authority lies in knowing what to do FIRST!
Entity selection - What type of business do you want to operate, a sole proprietorship, a corporation, an LLC? The pro's and con's of each are described in my section on Entity Selection. You will want to determine this first because it costs you time and money to change your registered name with all the federal and state agencies.
Insurance - You need to identify an insurance agent that operates in your state and can also help coordinate getting your authority and insurance. One of the best sources is trucking magazines but if you can attend one of the big truck shows like the Midwest Truck Show in Louisville, KY or the Great American Truck Show in Dallas, TX, there are a number of agents who have booths. Don't be afraid to compare rates.
Federal - USDOT/MC Numbers - You get this from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The following link will take you to the FMCSA Licensing & Registration website. In fact, there is an interactive question-and-answer section that will guide you through what forms you will need - for a government website, it is pretty good! Just click on the above link and the "Start the Step-by-Step Registration Guide" link in the "Help Me Register" section. You will also file for you USDOT and Motor Carrier (MC) numbers and complete your BOC-3 for insurance purposes and to obtain your process agent, in case someone wants to file suit against you. Once you apply for your USDOT and MC numbers, a process agent will contact you almost immediately. I imagine one is as good as another but I used All American Agents of Process. Once you have a process agent you will probably never talk to them again.
State DOT - I live and my base of operations was in Texas and was licensed by TXDOT. You can do an internet search of "State Operating Authority" and many will be shown. Alternatively, you can go to your state government's website and search for their Department of Transportation.
Why do you need a state DOT number? Well, your state may be different, but in Texas, to transport intra-state (both consignor and consignee are in Texas) you will need a TXDOT number. Otherwise, if you are stopped by a state trooper and your Bill of Lading has BOTH a Texas pickup and delivery and you do not have a TXDOT number, you can be fined $200+.
International Registration Plan (IRP) - The International Registration Plan (IRP) is an optional program for licensing commercial vehicles traveling in two or more jurisdictions. The continental US, District of Columbia and most Canadian provinces are members of IRP. All commercial vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs (gross weight) or having three or more axles regardless of weight are eligible to register.
Under IRP, an interstate carrier files an application with the jurisdiction in which it is based. The IRP agreement allows the base jurisdiction to collect the registration fees for the other jurisdictions the carrier has requested on their application form. The base jurisdiction issues a cab card for each vehicle. The cab card lists all the jurisdictions and corresponding weights the carrier has requested.
Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) - You will need to complete, file and pay your HVUT which is done on Form 2290. It is the only tax assessed by the US government which is prospective, meaning you pay it before you use it, unlike income tax. Here is a link to the IRS Forms and Publications. Simply type in “Form 2290” in the “Find” box
The instructions for Form 2290 are also on the Form. The amount due can be paid either by check or via EFTPS. I recommend setting up EFTPS as soon as you can. It takes a few weeks but is well worth it.
International Fuel Tax Agreement - IFTA is a joint agreement between all 48 contiguous states and 10 Canadian provinces enabling those jurisdictions to cooperate in the collection and administration of motor fuel taxes. An IFTA account is set up with the base state (state from which you operate) which authorizes travel in all IFTA jurisdictions. A single quarterly report must be filed with the base state, reporting miles traveled and fuel purchased in each state. After preparing the IFTA report, the trucking company either owes or will be getting a refund of fuel tax, just like a Federal Form 1040. The base state is responsible for dispersing the funds to the other jurisdictions or back to you. You need an IFTA license if you travel in two or more member jurisdictions if your vehicle either weighs more than 26,000 pounds or has three or more axles regardless of weight.
Note: If you travel outside your base state very seldom, it is possible to purchase a trip permit in each jurisdiction you travel. However, this becomes very expensive in the long run since having an IFTA license is free.
Single State Registration System - Single State Registration System (SSRS) renewal for the 2007 registration year is on hold pending federal legislation enacted in August 2005 which created the Unified Carrier Registration (UCR) program and repealed SSRS effective January 1, 2007.
The best advice I can give you is, after you get paid for the first cross-country run of $4,000, don't go out and buy a big-screen HD television because your air compressor and injectors will go out within the next week ... you can count on it. Setup an online savings account and move extra (ha!) money over there for a rainy day.
Unfortunately, I am not accepting many new trucking clients.
Most trucker tax returns take, at a minimum, 3-4 hours to complete. Therefore, there is a $500 retainer required before beginning the engagement. Final payment is required before the tax return will be electronically filed and a copy provided.
However, if you have questions please email me and I will try to answer them. Email is my preferred method of contact.