Filing the appropriate taxes on your vehicles is key to keeping your fleet in compliance and on the road working for you. One of those taxes is the federal heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT).
The new HVUT tax year began on July 1, and taxes for 2023–2024 are due by Aug. 31.
“Since states may deny vehicle registration or renewal without proof that you paid this tax, it’s important to stay current with changing regulations, understand the required forms and filings, and file on time to keep your trucks on the road,” said Corrina Peterson, transport editor at J. J. Keller & Associates Inc., the transportation industry’s trusted safety and compliance experts.
What is the HVUT?
The heavy vehicle use tax or HVUT is a fee assessed annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways at registered gross weights of 55,000 pounds or more. The tax is payable to the IRS on Form 2290, “Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return.”
Who must file?
Carriers must file IRS Form 2290 and Schedule 1 if a taxable highway motor vehicle is registered or required to be registered in their name under any state or District of Columbia, Canadian or Mexican law at the time of its first use.
This can be an individual, corporation, partnership or any other type of organization, including nonprofit charitable, educational, etc.
Taxable vehicles: The HVUT applies to highway motor vehicles with taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more and includes trucks, tractors and buses.
The gross taxable weight is determined by adding the unloaded weight of the vehicle plus the trailers or semi trailers customarily used with the vehicle plus the weight of the maximum load typically carried.
Form 2290 filing essentials
When to file: The yearlong filing season for Form 2290 filers is July 1 through June 30. Annual tax returns are due by Aug. 31 each year. For vehicles you first use on a public highway in July, file Form 2290 between July 1 and Aug. 31.
Adding a vehicle during the tax period: If you place an additional taxable truck registered in your name on the road during any month other than July, you are liable for the tax, prorated for the months during which it was in service.
File Form 2290 for these trucks by the last day of the month following the month the vehicle was first used on public highways.
File in these other circumstances:
- Claim suspension from the tax when a vehicle will be used 5,000 miles or less (7,500 miles or less for agricultural vehicles) during the reporting period.
- Figure and pay the tax due on a vehicle if you completed the suspension statement on a previous Form 2290 and that vehicle later exceeded the mileage limit during the reporting period.
- Figure and pay the tax due if, during the reporting period, the taxable gross weight of a vehicle increases and the vehicle falls into a new category.
- Claim a credit for the tax paid on vehicles that were destroyed, stolen, sold or used 5,000 miles or less (7,500 miles or less for agricultural vehicles).
- Report the acquisition of a used taxable vehicle for which the tax has been suspended.
- Figure and pay the tax due on a used taxable vehicle bought and used during the reporting period.
Electronic filing: Electronic filing is required if you are reporting 25 or more vehicles and is encouraged for all filers for faster processing.
“With J. J. Keller’s 2290online.com service, you can complete and e-file your Form 2290 in minutes and have your Schedule 1, showing proof of tax paid, in as little as 24 hours,” Peterson said.
Beyond the basics
Exempt groups: While most organizations are required to file, there are a few exempt groups. These include federal, state, tribal and local governments; the American Red Cross; and nonprofit volunteer fire departments, ambulance associations or rescue squads.
- Commercial vehicles traveling fewer than 5,000 miles annually (7,500 for agricultural vehicles) during the reporting period.
- Vehicles not considered highway motor vehicles — e.g., mobile machinery for nontransportation functions, vehicles specifically designed for off-highway transportation, and nontransportation trailers and semi-trailers.
- Qualified blood collector vehicles used by qualified blood collector organizations.
Compliance monitoring: State and county registration data may be used to detect noncompliance associated with motor carriers that fail to remit the HVUT payment or those that claim to operate a vehicle at a weight lower than its actual operating weight.
Motor carrier enforcement data may be used to verify a vehicle’s taxable weight. International Registration Plate and International Fuel Tax Agreement data may be used to verify annual miles traveled and detect noncompliance associated with false claims of a low-mileage exemption.
Record-keeping: Keep records for all taxable highway vehicles registered in your name for at least three years after the date the tax is due or paid. Also, keep copies of all returns and schedules you have filed.
Why it matters
Proof of payment required for vehicle registration: Generally, states require verification of payment of HVUT before they will register the vehicle. The stamped copy of Schedule 1 is your proof of payment when registering vehicles with the state. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also require this proof of payment for Canadian or Mexican vehicles entering the United States.
- The penalty for failing to file IRS Form 2290 by Aug. 31 is equal to 4.5% of the total tax due, assessed on a monthly basis up to five months.
- Late filers not making an HVUT payment also face an additional monthly penalty equal to 0.5% of the total tax due.
- Additional interest charges of 0.54% per month accrue as well.
- Many states suspend the registrations of vehicles for which proof of HVUT payment has not been provided.
- HVUT evasion penalties can be even more significant, resulting in fines and incarceration.
Partnering with a trustworthy firm like J. J. Keller & Associates to help you file can simplify the HVUT process and keep your fleet on the road. Experts with established agency relationships can help you stay current with changing regulations, understand the required forms and filings, and keep your operation in compliance.
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