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2022 truck driver per diem pay: Advantages and tax plan impacts

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March 14, 2022

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

Schneider is proud to continue offering a truck driver per diem pay program in 2022. This program provides a great opportunity for eligible drivers to maximize their take-home pay.

Sometimes per diem pay can be confusing, so I would like to provide additional details about it and answer some of the most commonly asked questions, including: 

  • How does per diem pay work, and is there a net benefit to it?
  • Should I consider participating in Schneider’s per diem pay program?

What is per diem pay for truck drivers?

Truck driver per diem pay is an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) reimbursement designed to cover meal and incidental expenses incurred by drivers while they are away from home. It gives drivers more take-home pay because fewer taxes are withheld.

Schneider’s truck driver per diem pay program works by breaking compensation into two components:

  • A taxable linehaul rate.
  • A non-taxable per diem rate.

Carving out a non-taxable per diem amount lowers your overall gross pay, which also lowers your taxes and results in a higher weekly take-home pay.

Real-life per diem pay example

Check out the net take-home pay between a standard pay package driver and a per diem pay package driver:

Weekly MilesStandard Pay PackagePer Diem Pay Package
2,250$0.49$0.30 Taxable

$0.17 Non Taxable
StandardPer DiemDifference
Taxable Line Haul (LH)$1,102.50$675.00$427.50
Per Diem LH addn/a$382.50$382.50
Vacation pay add$21.20$20.34$0.87
401(k) less (4%)$44.95$27.81$17.13
FICA less (7.65%)$82.52$51.07$31.46
Fed taxes less (22%)$237.33$146.86$90.47
States taxes less (5%)$53.94$33.38$20.56
Weekly Take Home
(without accessorials)
$704.97$818.73$113.76
Annual Take Home
(without accessorials)
$36,658.21$42,573.77$5,915.56

Answers to frequently asked questions about per diem pay

What is the difference between the taxable linehaul rate and the non-taxable rate? How can a driver recognize them on a pay statement?

The non-taxable rate is the per diem portion – $0.17 per mile in the above example. You must combine the taxable portion and non-taxable portion to get the gross pay you’re bringing home.

If I’m a driver and I choose to sign up for per diem, does that put more money in my pocket?

Absolutely, and the benefit is it brings more money to you in real time. In most cases, drivers don’t need that money at the end of the year at tax time; they need it while they’re out on the road every week.

What other things does a driver need to consider when determining if per diem is right for them?

Every situation is different depending on your tax circumstance. If you’re contemplating not participating, talk to a tax consultant. We’d hate for someone to be deprived from seeing the real-time benefit. This is an individual situation – decide what is best for you.

Is every driver eligible?

Not every driver is eligible for per diem pay because it is expressed in cents-per-mile, and it’s used to cover over-the-road costs for meals and incidentals. You are not eligible for Schneider’s per diem pay program if:

  • You do not drive an over-the road configuration.
  • You are not paid through a cents-per-mile pay package.
  • You are still in training.
  • You are paid a daily rate.
  • You are on an hourly pay package.

Schneider drivers receive additional per diem information during orientation.

A man in a button-down shirt sits at a table and appears to be filling out tax information using paperwork and a laptop.

How to decide if per diem pay is right for you

There are a number of things drivers should consider when figuring out if per diem pay is right for you. These factors include, but are not limited to:

  • Per diem pay can have a small impact on personal time off pay (usually less than $50 annually per personal time off week).
  • Per diem pay can reduce Social Security, unemployment and workers’ compensation benefits (estimated $10/month Social Security impact for every year of per diem participation.)
  • Per diem pay portions are not eligible for 401(k) matches. However, drivers can fund a higher savings percentage with the extra take-home pay provided through the per diem pay plan.

Although taking advantage of the per diem pay can come with the drawbacks listed above, Schneider’s per diem pay offers some perks to help offset any loss. These advantages include increased weekly take-home pay, and that Schneider takes full responsibility for tracking per diem pay and bears all IRS audit risk.

Ultimately, it’s a driver’s choice to participate in the per diem pay program. Make an informed decision by understanding your own situation and consulting with your own tax professional.

Get a better understanding of driver pay.

Truck driver pay can be a complicated subject to understand. Learn the ins and outs of driver income by checking out our truck driver pay page that breaks down all the factors of driver pay.

About the author
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Tom started his career at Schneider in 2002 as a Van Truckload and Dedicated truck driver. In his 20 years at the company, Tom has held a variety of roles including Driver Trainer, Driver Team Leader, Fleet Manager, Support Shift Leader and, most recently, Compensation Manager in Schneider's Driver Pay Department. Tom is passionate about driver pay and takes pride in ensuring that Schneider drivers are paid accurately and on time each week.

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