Did you remember that the HVUT is due on August 31?

What is that?

The Heavy Vehicle Use Tax is another tax we truckers pay to stay on the roads.  I think it’s supposed to pay for highway maintenance, but I couldn’t find anything concrete to back that up.  (Ok, that’s not true, I did find some details, but I couldn’t resist the pun.  The HVUT is a significant source of revenue that does pay for the infrastructure of roads in the US.)

Truckers and Taxes

As I see it, we truckers get hit three times.

First, we have to buy the apportioned license plates.  These plates come from IRP – the International Registration Plan – and are based on our mileage over the previous 12 months.  $1700.

Then we have IFTA – the International Fuel Tax Agreement – based on the last quarter’s mileage, every state gets its share of extra taxes we have to pay – we apparently didn’t pay enough at the pump.  I’m not complaining too much; the previous system was far worse than what we’ve got now.

And the Heavy Vehicle Usage Tax.  Of the three, HVUT is the simplest.  A flat $550 goes to the IRS every August 31.  For the privilege of driving on the roads.

HVUT -What?

The HVUT is another tax on truckers. At least this one is pretty easy.  You can find the Form 2290 forms here (scroll down a bit – it’s a PDF with an introduction page)  and the instructions here.  Did I say these were simple?  That’s a 14-page document on how to file it.

There are a number of truckers who don’t have to pay this tax.  I pulled this off the Form 2290 instructions page.

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Exemptions. The use of certain highway motor vehicles is exempt from the tax (and thus not required to be reported on a Form 2290) if certain requirements are met. The use of a highway motor vehicle is not subject to the tax if it is used and actually operated by:

  • The Federal Government,
  • The District of Columbia,
  • A state or local government,
  • The American National Red Cross,
  • A nonprofit volunteer fire department, ambulance association, or rescue squad,
  • An Indian tribal government but only if the vehicle’s use involves the exercise of an essential tribal government function,
  • A mass transportation authority if it is created under a statute that gives it certain powers normally exercised by the state.

Also exempt from tax (and thus not required to be reported on a Form 2290) is the use of:

  • Qualified blood collector vehicles (see below) used by qualified blood collector organizations, and
  • Vehicles not considered highway motor vehicles.

Generally, the following kinds of vehicles are not considered highway vehicles.

1. Specially designed mobile machinery for nontransportation functions. A self-propelled vehicle is not a highway vehicle if all the following apply.

a. The chassis has permanently mounted to it machinery or equipment used to perform certain operations (construction, manufacturing, drilling, mining, timbering, processing, farming, or similar operations) if the operation of Mobile machinery that meets the specifications for a chassis as described under the machinery or equipment is unrelated to transportation on or off the public highways.

b. The chassis has been specially designed to serve only as a mobile carriage and mount (and power source, if applicable) for the machinery or equipment, whether or not the machinery or equipment is in operation.

c. The chassis could not, because of its special design and without substantial structural modification, be used as part of a vehicle designed to carry any other load.

2. Vehicles specially designed for off­highway transportation. A vehicle is not treated as a highway vehicle if the vehicle is specially designed for the primary function of transporting a particular type of load other than over the public highway and because of this special design, the vehicle’s capability to transport a load over a public highway is substantially limited or impaired. To make this determination, you can take into account the vehicle’s size, whether the vehicle is subject to licensing, safety, or other requirements, and whether the vehicle can transport a load at a sustained speed of at least 25 miles per hour. It does not matter that the vehicle can carry heavier loads off highway than it is allowed to carry over the highway.

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Filing your 2290 is like filing your income tax forms.  Fill it out, send it in.  But I’ve seen some things on the Internet about people getting into trouble because they wait until the last minute to file.  Then they find out something’s wrong with the paperwork.  This isn’t a minor problem.  Your truck registration can be suspended by the IRS if the filing is wrong – even if it’s just a few letters in your name or transposed numbers in your VIN.  Extra penalties get added to the bill if you’re late making the payment.

Having your truck registration suspended is worse than the extra charges.  You’ll get ticketed if you’re pulled over by law enforcement.  For some companies, that’s enough to get you in serious trouble.

I’ve found a number of sites online that will allow you to file electronically.  I can’t recommend any of them since I haven’t used them, but you might want to give one a try.  Shop around, the prices vary.

PS.  Reminders apply to excluded vehicles as well.

Even if your vehicle isn’t required to pay the tax, apparently you still have to file.  I don’t know that too many of those drivers are likely to see this post, but I figured I’d mention it.

So pay up this extra tax – at least it doesn’t fall during an IFTA month – and avoid the headaches another interaction with the IRS might bring.  Be sure to include it as an expense in your TruckingOffice trucking management expenses list so that you’re able to accurately see your expenses per mile.  It’s just another part of being an owner-operator.

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