Have you ever considered how the right business strategy could help you realize your rigs’ fullest
potential? We’ve just rounded the corner into 2020, and if you need a new tax strategy, this blog’s for
you. Whether you’re running solo or have authority over 15 trucks, learn about an important resource
for avoiding big business mistakes inside.
We talked with Chris Jones from Jones Tax about his love of accounting strategy and how he got to know
big trucks inside and out. From his time as an engineer to running a parts distribution business, his
calling to serve truckers exclusively is benefiting all levels of the trucking industry today. Learn more
TRUCKERS: DON’T MAKE THESE TAX MISTAKES IN 2020
DUKE.AI: At tax time, truckers often get caught needing more help with their businesses than
anticipated. And as we put 2019 behind us, you could lose out financially, unless you make sure your
personal business strategy is a fit for the year ahead. For help knowing the best 2020 strategy for your
specific situation, we connected with Chris Jones, the founder behind Jones Tax.
His nationwide tax practice serves over-the-road (OTR) trucking exclusively with accounting services and
coaching to shape your business outlook. So if you’re interested in preventing the types of mistakes that
typically cost truckers money, Chris has the advice you need to implement in the new year.
Welcome, Chris Jones. Tell us a little about what brought you to trucking.
CJ: I love trucking especially because the people in it are awesome. Everyone’s working to be successful,
pushing through the hardships and roadblocks they see each day. Out of college, I began my career as
an engineer. I actually designed an invention to convert methane gas off of livestock yards into synthetic
diesel. After some time, I went into business selling aftermarket parts for over the road trucks. It meant
spending a lot of time collaborating with mechanics on every component of truck engines. That’sSo how
big trucks work became part of my knowledge base.
DUKE.AI: And now today, knowing everything about trucking equipment gives you an edge in business.
So where did your passion for strategy come into play?
CJ: I love everything strategy! Whether it’s work or a game that I play with my friends, strategy has to be
there for me to get involved. So after closing my truck parts business, when I started looking into
franchises I could open, I made an important discovery that led me down this path: taxes call for
strategic thinking more than any other area in business. So that discovery led me to become an enrolled
agent with the IRS—today I know the tax codes inside and out, and I can represent anyone with the IRS
if there’s ever an issue with their taxes.
DUKE.AI: So naturally your practice brings the two things you love together, trucking and strategy. How
are you able to offer strategy in the context of a trucking business?
CJ: When a client calls, often the first question I ask is: what shape are your books in? Are they up to
date? And do you have flexibility– meaning that you’re on top of where your business stands today, and
you also have some control over load decisions.
So if you have your own authority, you’re on the load boards, then that’s a perfect place to employ
strategy. Even if you don’t have your own authority, and you’re leased with carrier administrators like
the Landstar Network, you still have a lot of options.
However, other folks struggle with smaller carriers and go for long stretches between loads. It becomes
hand-to-mouth if you’re relying on your carrier to provide the next load. That’s a take-it-or-leave-it
scenario. And if you decline loads, we might want to have a call to talk it through for strategy. There are
scenarios with other carriers where we see truckers are very successful even without their own
authority and sometimes we can help.
DUKE.AI: Sometimes it pays in trucking to raise your hand for help from the experts early on. We see
that in bookkeeping too.
CJ: One of the scariest things I’ve seen is what happens when people try to do all their own bookkeeping
manually. They could be using QuickBooks, for example. It’s too easy in trucking to blindly plug in
numbers–sometimes mistakenly claiming exemptions that actually are considered personal expenses.
Or mistakenly omitting a big business expense. And when this happens, I’m concerned for these clients.
It becomes costly to correct their books if they wait until tax season to look for help.
In the alternative, having clients use the Duke app helps everyone sleep a lot better at night. For anyone
running a trucking company, using the Duke app to automatically complete bookkeeping entries means
knowing you don’t have to worry–everything’s correctly entered for you, and you’re much less likely to
experience an unsettling surprise from the errors we often see when truckers try to do it all themselves.
DUKE.AI: As a tax preparer and business advisor, what makes you different?
CJ: Because we don’t take clients outside of the transportation industry, everything that we do is about
trucking. And everything that we research for taxes is applicable to trucking.
We really like clients coming to us with an open mind, ready to get optimized and to prepare themselves
for the upcoming tax year.
What we often see are husband and wife teams growing a business from the ground-up. One of them is
operating the business. The other is trying to keep up with the paperwork. Once the business acquires
several trucks, it really starts to make sense to work with an accountant who knows the industry and
who is able to help them optimize. Jones Tax has that expertise and we work with truckers in every
state. Instead of having clients continue to struggle with QuickBooks, I can get them onto the Duke.ai
tool for a better way to track financials.
DUKE.AI: So when it comes to truckers making a strategic shift in their businesses, what can your firm
Jones Tax do to impact truckers’ profitability?
CJ: When I consult with clients on strategy, some of what we’re overcoming comes from listening to tax
experts out there promoting ideas like becoming an S-Corp or an LLC. Too many truckers listen to this
canned advice. And unfortunately it’s advice that typically doesn’t fit an over-the-road business.
Especially in taxes, there’s never a “one size fits all” strategy for trucking businesses because it’s
different for everybody. It’s a complicated subject, so when we step in to coach, we handle everything
taxes and recommend custom strategies that are specific to the individual trucking business.
DUKE.AI: Are there other strategic insights you have to share around which loads to take and which to
CJ: Especially if you have your own authority or if you’re leased on with a carrier that gives you your
choice of loads, a lot of times it makes sense to do a little analysis before taking a load.
We found in trucking a lot of clients might sit for days at a time. If they’re sitting for days because they
have a magic rate in their heads, we get involved with some coaching. Because their ideas about the
lowest rate they’re going to accept are usually accompanied by misunderstanding how their fixed costs
impact these financial decisions, coaching can be a big help. So first we help them get a better handle on
their books. Then once clients realize we can help, we get them started with the Duke.ai app to be able
to keep books completely up-to-date.
DUKE.AI: What do you recommend for those in the trucking business who’d like to talk about their own
load decisions? Where can they take their questions about strategy or income taxes?
CJ: Anyone in the transportation industry can head over to our website, JonesTaxBenefits.com. You can
send us a message directly from the website, right from the bottom of the home page. You can also look
for our services menu—just decide the type of service that fits your business best, and a quick email
gets us started talking.