Turf Magazine - January, 2013

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In Your Own Words: Should You Use Your Work Truck as a Personal Vehicle?

DannyLot: What's everyone's advice on using the same vehicle for work and their primary personal vehicle? Reason I ask is I was thinking of trading in my car to get a nice 1-ton vehicle for $20,000 used, or just getting a used truck for $10,000 strictly for landscaping and plowing. What do you guys think?

MR-G: Buy the work truck for $10,000. Why would you want to trash your personal vehicle for work? If you get to the point you send out a crew, you still have your car to follow up on them. That said, if you're a solo operator and wish to stay that way for a while, it is nice to have a nicer truck, even for work.

Landscape Poet: Pretty solid advice there. One other thing to consider: if you use your work truck just for work, then you get to claim 100 percent deductions on the mileage during the year.

If you have a vehicle that you use for both personal use and work, you honestly should be documenting mileage used between the two and only be able to deduct the work mileage. More of a pain in the tail paperwork to keep it honest.

jrs.landscaping: Buy the $20,000 dollar truck and buy yourself a $300 beater. I did that for quite a few years after I bought my 450. Why put wear and tear on the items that make you money when you can buy a cheap ride, run it into the ground, and then buy another one?

yardguy28: I have and always will have one truck for both personal and business use. I keep track of work miles for tax purposes. Fill the truck up with personal credit card.

The only situation I'd have a separate for is if I ever get a 1-ton dump truck like I keep thinking about doing.

ted putnam: I deduct 100 percent on my trucks. I do this because even when I am at the grocery store, that truck is advertising my business. It's a rolling billboard advertising my business 24 hours a day no matter where I am. Last time I checked, advertising was a legitimate business expense. I get calls from people who see it when I'm driving, whether it is in route to the next stop on my route for the day or if I am going to check on my parents who are in their late 70s.

Maybe I rationalize it so I can sleep at night, but that's the way I look at it.

When the state tells me I don't have to have a lettered truck to spray lawns anymore, then maybe I'll change the way I do things as far as vehicle expense. Until then, I will keep doing things this way. I don't feel that it is dishonest and it is much easier for me.

We don't use the spray trucks to go out to eat on Friday night. However, if I discover we need a gallon of milk, I don't wait for my wife to get off work to use her vehicle to go get it.

RSK Property Maintenance: I would buy the used truck for $10,000 and keep your car. Just make sure when you buy the truck that it is clean and well-cared for. There should be very little, if any, dings, no rust, no rot, shouldn't need any paint work. For $10,000 it should look like new still or very lightly used. Just make sure to ask a lot of questions.

"In Your Own Words" is contributed from the lawn care and landscape forum at www.LawnSite.com, which was named one of 10 Great Media Sites by Media Business magazine, and has been chosen as a winner of the Most Engaged Media Brands for 2010 by min, a firm that tracks the media industry. Visit them, and join in the discussions.