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Old 10-05-2017, 06:17 AM   #1
Skoolie
 
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Has anyone used their skoolie for business purposes, even tangentially?

If we do a skoolie, it'll be used to transport us and our musical equipment to our shows. Seems that that enters a gray area of the law, and I wondered if anyone had experience with it.

When we had our motorhome, we didn't have to register it commercially nor get commercial insurance because we didn't have clients inside the motorhome at any time. However, its GVWR was only about 14,000 pounds. The last thing I'd want is to find that I'm afoul of the law for using a 26,000+ pound bus as a transport vehicle from show to show (which is how we make our living).

Anyone have experience with using their bus as a business vehicle? If yes, what are the added expenses we can expect, and how much would they likely cost? Along these lines, does anyone have experience using their bus as merely a transport vehicle from job to job as a self-employed businessperson? If yes, did you have to register it and insure it as a commercial vehicle? (If "no" to that last question, why not?)
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Old 10-05-2017, 09:50 AM   #2
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heres what I ghave done with my DEV bus.. and my business attorney said it was perfectly legal..

im a tech Guy and i wanted a mobile DEV lab .. if I had put the bus in my business's name then it couldve been fully written off as a a business expense and would be a business asset.. it could be depreceated.. yada yada just like any other asset..

BUT!!

it wouldve fallen completely under the rules of a commercial vehicle.. CDL required to drive , DOT number (logbooks, service hours, inspections, taxes) etc..

OR

I keep it in my personal name as a personal vehicle.. how can I travel in it and do anything business related?

as a tech guy what if I took my personal pickup truck and stopped in front of a starbucks to write code - it isnt required to be a business vehicle to do that... what if I take my personal pickup truck on a business trip.. same thing.. the bus is registered and insured as a motorhome (in ohio).. and its in my personal name...

now.. that said.. the only write-off i can get is what any other personal vehicle can get.. I can write the federal mileage rate off on my taxes.. thats it..

because my hobbies are also computers, home automation, etc.. a really solid case could be made if anyone qwuestioned.. that its my "hobby bus" and toy.. esp since i have taken it to classic-car shows, bus rallies, etc.. and have the fuel receipts to prove it..

chances are you likely have hobbies that coincide with your business dream.. so you could make a case that its your hobby camper and you chose to drive it to the show..

any different than a guy commuting to work in his personal car with his work laptop on the back seat??

-Christopher
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Old 10-05-2017, 08:53 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by cadillackid View Post
heres what I ghave done with my DEV bus.. and my business attorney said it was perfectly legal..

im a tech Guy and i wanted a mobile DEV lab .. if I had put the bus in my business's name then it couldve been fully written off as a a business expense and would be a business asset.. it could be depreceated.. yada yada just like any other asset..

BUT!!

it wouldve fallen completely under the rules of a commercial vehicle.. CDL required to drive , DOT number (logbooks, service hours, inspections, taxes) etc..

OR

I keep it in my personal name as a personal vehicle.. how can I travel in it and do anything business related?

as a tech guy what if I took my personal pickup truck and stopped in front of a starbucks to write code - it isnt required to be a business vehicle to do that... what if I take my personal pickup truck on a business trip.. same thing.. the bus is registered and insured as a motorhome (in ohio).. and its in my personal name...

now.. that said.. the only write-off i can get is what any other personal vehicle can get.. I can write the federal mileage rate off on my taxes.. thats it..

because my hobbies are also computers, home automation, etc.. a really solid case could be made if anyone qwuestioned.. that its my "hobby bus" and toy.. esp since i have taken it to classic-car shows, bus rallies, etc.. and have the fuel receipts to prove it..

chances are you likely have hobbies that coincide with your business dream.. so you could make a case that its your hobby camper and you chose to drive it to the show..

any different than a guy commuting to work in his personal car with his work laptop on the back seat??

-Christopher
I don't want to demean your experience, because you're one of the most venerated bus experts on this forum... but I want you to look at the following link:

http://publicsafety.ohio.gov/links/HSY7605.pdf

Look at page 5.

I don't see what's ambiguous or unclear about how you must have a CDL to operate "Any single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 pounds or more."

That's "ANY" vehicle. It made no exceptions for how the vehicle was titled or used.

Now check this out: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/part/383

The text appears clear to me that if the vehicle is being used in any business capacity whatsoever, and it weighs 26,001 pounds or more, you have to have a CDL to drive it. The answer to question 3 shows that the personal motorhome exemption ONLY applies if the vehicle is used STRICTLY for non-business purposes.

Even if you are right and your lawyer (and, presumably, any other Ohio-based lawyer I could find who does business and vehicle law) says that it'd be okay to use a >26,000lb bus as a transport vehicle for business purposes if you aren't allowing clients into the vehicle, I don't want to be sitting on the cusp of legality such that I'd have to argue a very narrow interpretation of the laws with some cop who has an axe to grind against humanity and happens to be taking it out on me for whatever reason. (I'm a generally clean-nosed guy, but for a clean-nosed guy, I have some of the worst luck with cops.) Cops don't always know the laws they try to enforce - let's face it, to study those laws to much depth would require law school, and if they graduated law school, why work as a cop when you can get at least three times as much money (and a lot less on-the-job danger) working as a lawyer?

You asked if there was a difference between this and a guy commuting to work in his personal car with his laptop on his seat. I say yes there is, and according to the law as I understand it, the difference has to do with the weight of the vehicle. I could drive a <26,001lb vehicle for business purposes as long as I wasn't transporting 15 or more people in addition to myself, without a CDL. But when the weight is 26,001 pounds or more, now it has to be used strictly for personal purposes lest it fall under the purview of CDL law.
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Old 10-05-2017, 09:15 PM   #4
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Old 10-05-2017, 09:53 PM   #5
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Romani look up CDL exemptions and you'll find RV listed.

Now I m guessing commerce is likely a bit gray as I noted.. that's where hobby RV comes into play and also why I mentioned the pickup and laptop.. RVs are clearly spelled out as CDL exempt in Ohio law..
Christopher
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Old 10-05-2017, 10:59 PM   #6
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You may want to look at a cost comparison between getting a CDL and commercial registration vs no cdl and rv registration. If registered to your business you could deduct the cost of the bus, the build, maintanance and the fuel off your income tax. Commerial registration and insurance may cost more than rv but maybe not. If registered as an RV you could still get the deductions but would have to separate business and personal use. Business deductuons for an RV could be a red flag for an audit to our friends at the irs.

I dont know about Ohio but here in South Dakota a CDL is not that hard to get. You take a written test at the DMV. Then you hire an examiner for pretrip inspection and driving test.
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Old 10-05-2017, 11:32 PM   #7
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You may want to look at a cost comparison between getting a CDL and commercial registration vs no cdl and rv registration. If registered to your business you could deduct the cost of the bus, the build, maintenance and the fuel off your income tax. Commercial registration and insurance may cost more than rv but maybe not. If registered as an RV you could still get the deductions but would have to separate business and personal use. Business deductions for an RV could be a red flag for an audit to our friends at the IRS.
Professional driver here.

Are you nuts? There's no way I would recommend a couple of touring artists/musicians even *CONSIDERING* commercial insurance or licensing!!! This is exempt on so many levels. Besides ...

Commercial insurance will cost you somewhere upward of $4000 per year. You read that right, over $80 per week. That doesn't include cargo insurance, nor general liability. It also doesn't include obtaining USDOT operating authority (which issues the USDOT numbers), IFTA fuel tax, eLogs (which will be mandatory very soon), and countless other commercial carrier headaches. Did I forget, *EVERY* driver and "employee" *MUST* have an application for employment on file at the "company headquarters" (and yes, you must have a permanent address for this). Yes, even the owner must have an application on file. Let's not forget your DOT physicals and drug/alcohol tests.

All this is a reality for companies hauling goods (or passengers) from point A to point B. My insurance agent tells me that hauling a few friends to the game (and even asking for some fuel money) does *NOT* constitute commercial use of a bus. The same applies hauling a couple instruments to gig (if I were a musician, which I am not), which in all reality would be no different in a personal car. Move that up to an RV, traveling from gig to gig, and the usage really isn't any different. Make that RV a converted bus (titled/registered as an RV), and still the usage is essentially the same.
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Old 10-06-2017, 05:21 AM   #8
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:00 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
All this is a reality for companies hauling goods (or passengers) from point A to point B. My insurance agent tells me that hauling a few friends to the game (and even asking for some fuel money) does *NOT* constitute commercial use of a bus. The same applies hauling a couple instruments to gig (if I were a musician, which I am not), which in all reality would be no different in a personal car. Move that up to an RV, traveling from gig to gig, and the usage really isn't any different. Make that RV a converted bus (titled/registered as an RV), and still the usage is essentially the same.
When I had my class C RV (~14,000 lbs GVWR), the insurance company said that I didn't need commercial insurance as long as clients weren't coming into the RV. Okay, check. I still don't intend for that to be the case.

However, I DO intend for whatever traveling rig we get (bus or otherwise) to be used PRIMARILY for transporting us from show to show. We don't make much money (who really does, as an artist of any kind, unless you're one of the extremely few "big guys"?), so whenever we travel much distance, almost all the time we book a sufficient number of shows along the way and/or around our destination so that we can write the trip off on our taxes. We don't travel just for personal pleasure - we book shows in a certain area and then in the in-between times, we enjoy whatever the area might bring as "personal pleasure".

It seems that CDL laws have two tiers - one which requires you to have a DOT number, physicals, IFTA registration, logs, adherence to "reset laws", etc, etc, etc... and one that does not. I imagine that what we're intending to do, even if we had to get CDLs, would not require all of that fancy stuff. But I am still concerned about the cost of insurance and the cost of getting and maintaining that CDL. If I had to have a CDL to operate a vehicle for its primary purpose, surely I would be bumped to some higher tier of insurance, making it both much more difficult to find someone willing to insure me, and much more expensive to get that insurance. I relish the thought of neither condition.

And again, even if it would be legal to drive a >26,000lb bus (titled and registered as an RV) for this purpose, I think I would find myself having to go through a lot of unwarranted hassle at the hands of cops and insurance companies who don't know the laws and aren't inclined to give me the benefit of the doubt. (After all, even people on this forum, who have a vested interest in knowing the laws about this one subject, don't seem to agree on them!) Do you reject this claim?
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Old 10-06-2017, 08:20 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad_SwiftFur View Post
Professional driver here.

Are you nuts? There's no way I would recommend a couple of touring artists/musicians even *CONSIDERING* commercial insurance or licensing!!! This is exempt on so many levels. Besides ...

Commercial insurance will cost you somewhere upward of $4000 per year. You read that right, over $80 per week. That doesn't include cargo insurance, nor general liability. It also doesn't include obtaining USDOT operating authority (which issues the USDOT numbers), IFTA fuel tax, eLogs (which will be mandatory very soon), and countless other commercial carrier headaches. Did I forget, *EVERY* driver and "employee" *MUST* have an application for employment on file at the "company headquarters" (and yes, you must have a permanent address for this). Yes, even the owner must have an application on file. Let's not forget your DOT physicals and drug/alcohol tests.

All this is a reality for companies hauling goods (or passengers) from point A to point B. My insurance agent tells me that hauling a few friends to the game (and even asking for some fuel money) does *NOT* constitute commercial use of a bus. The same applies hauling a couple instruments to gig (if I were a musician, which I am not), which in all reality would be no different in a personal car. Move that up to an RV, traveling from gig to gig, and the usage really isn't any different. Make that RV a converted bus (titled/registered as an RV), and still the usage is essentially the same.
again why my attorney said "think hobby RV" and "laptop on the seat of a guy's pickup"

perhaps my case is easier.. but when I drive my pickup im allowed to carry my tools... it doesnt matter what vehicle I show up to work in.. my *WORK* is the server rack im installing, the phone system im programming, etc.. the attorney states that im allowed to carry my Tools to work.. whether or not you need a CDL is according to the vehicle and class - in ohio an RV is exempted so its essentially no different than a silverado truck...

I see thousands of guys carrying their tools to work on the various apartment projects every day..

their trucks are in their personal name.. not a business..

once you get Big.. ie a major travelling band with lots of members and gear.. then an LLC or S-corp is formed.. and their bus (a big prevost) is an asset of the BUSINESS not an individual member.. as the band itself is a business.. the bus carries themselves and their employees.. as well as their tools.. (guitars, speakers, amps).. *AND* merchandise for sale (commerce).. (CD's T-shirts, coffee cups, bling).. thus they carry DOT numbers and a hired CDL driver to run their bus..

2 people, one who owns the bus as a personal vehicle, neither are employees of a cmpany (if you form an LLC you both can be owners, on the board, partners, and yet not employees).. carrying your Tools (guitars, amps, speakers).. ship your box od CD's and bling to the venue if you are worried about good for commerce...



now am I allowed to bring with me the server rack and phone system to the job site? im sure this one is debatable as im carrying goods for the purpose of Commerce... then again im allowed to do so in my personal vehicle..

romani is right in the sense that someone COULD try to create hastle if they wanted to.. have I ever carried a server rack in my pickup truck? yep.. have I ever carried a couple cases of polycom phones in my Bus? yep.. was i illegal in doing so?? does anyone really know?

drive so you dont get noticed and you dont have any issues.. be cordial, polite, and forthcoming to any officer and you likely hop back on the road if stopped..

many forum members drive their fully painted, fully outfitted Yellow school busses across the country.. safely, quietly, and unnoiticed by authorities..


its up to you to run your business as you see fit, and you should have a meeting with your attorney who set up your band business and have these discussions with them. ive gone through it with my business and determined best how to handle it when I want to drive my bus to a customer's site..

-Christopher
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