A new filing year for the heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT) is upon us, and this year's due date, August 31, 2018, is approaching quickly.

You're subject to the tax if:

  • You're registering a vehicle in your name;
  • The vehicle has a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more; and
  • You're using the vehicle on a public roadway.

The HVUT isn't overly complex, but there are still requirements surrounding this tax that can get you into trouble if you're not careful. We've compiled our top 10 filing tips to help you ensure you're filing correctly and following the rules.

  1. Make sure you have an EIN. An employer identification number (EIN) is required to file the HVUT. You cannot use your social security number. Obtaining a new EIN can take a couple weeks, so be sure to plan ahead.
  2. File on time. Penalties and interest can accrue when taxes aren't filed on time. But, there may be other adverse outcomes if the HVUT isn't filed in a timely manner. When registering a taxable vehicle, your state registration office will ask for proof of tax payment. If you do not have this proof, you can't register your vehicles. Filing and paying on time will ensure you're set when you need to complete your registration.
  3. Check your work. It never hurts to re-check your entries when you're about to file. A quick scan of your company details and your reported vehicle identification numbers can save you from having to file amended or corrected returns in the future.
  4. E-file. Electronic tax filing is required if you have 25 or more vehicles, but of course, all HVUT taxpayers are encouraged to file electronically. E-filing helps reduce errors, and it's much faster than filing on paper, which can take up to six weeks. When you e-file, you receive your proof of tax payment virtually immediately.
  5. Use a trustworthy firm to help you file. Don't fall victim to scams or unscrupulous third-party filers. J. J. Keller is a well-known trusted firm and an authorized IRS e-file provider.
  6. Suspend the tax if you can. If you believe you will operate a taxable vehicle 5,000 miles or less (7,500 for agricultural vehicles), you can suspend the tax. This means that you still file the HVUT for the vehicle, but you pay no tax.
  7. Be sure to claim your credits or refunds. If you paid the 2017-2018 HVUT for a vehicle, but the vehicle was sold, destroyed, or stolen, you can claim a tax credit or refund for the months in which you didn't use the vehicle. A tax credit or refund may also be claimed if you filed and paid for a vehicle in 2017-2018, but the vehicle ended up traveling fewer than 5,000 miles throughout the tax year (7,500 miles for agricultural vehicles). The credits can be claimed on your 2018-2019 HVUT Form 2290, or you can claim a refund on IRS Form 8849.
  8. Know when you might need to file again. You know that you need to file the HVUT annually, but did you know that there may be other reasons you need to file throughout the year? Additional filings are required if you add a taxable vehicle to your fleet or if you increase the taxable weight of a vehicle you've previously reported. If you suspended the tax on a vehicle, but end up operating the vehicle over the 5,000/7,500-mile limit at any point during the tax year, then you'll need to re-file and pay the tax at that time.
  9. Know your options for payment. The following payment options are available: electronic funds withdrawal, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), credit or debit card payment, or check or money order. Beginning with the 2018 filings, the IRS started to accept payments by a credit or debit card. Note that credit or debit card payments are routed through a payment processor, who will charge a fee for their services.
  10. Keep proper records. You'll need to 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, whichever is later. Be sure to keep copies of all returns and schedules you have filed, and keep your records even if a vehicle is registered in your name for only a portion of a period.

Taxes are complicated, but filing your HVUT doesn't need to be. Knowing what you're required to do, and when, can help assure your HVUT filings go smoothly.

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