The heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT)
Heavy Vehicle Use Tax is a fee assessed annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways at registered gross weights equal to or exceeding 55,000 pounds.
The need for road surface maintenance is greatly attributable to the heaviest vehicles. The volume of truck freight has grown significantly over the past few decades. The HVUT levels the playing field by ensuring that operators of heavy trucks pay a little more for the highway network relative to motorists and light trucks, which do less damage to the system.
The Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) Must be Paid Annually if:
- You are registering a vehicle in your name,
- The vehicle has a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more, and
- You are using the vehicle on a public roadway.
The gross weight is calculated by adding three things – the unloaded weight of the vehicle fully equipped for service, the unloaded weight of any trailers that you use in combination with the vehicle, fully equipped for service, the weight of the maximum load customarily carried on the vehicle and on any trailers customarily used in combination with the vehicle.
Are There Any Exemptions to the IRS Heavy Vehicle Use Tax?
Groups exempted from the Form HVUT are:
- Federal Government
- State & Local governments, including the District of Columbia
- The American Red Cross
- Non-profit volunteer fire departments, ambulance associations or rescue squads
- Mass transportation authorities
- Indian tribal governments (for vehicles used in essential tribal functions)
Vehicles Exempted from HVUT are:
- A commercial vehicle which is traveling less than 5,000 miles annually.
- Agriculture vehicle which is traveling less than 7,500 miles annually.
- A vehicle that is not considered to be a highway motor vehicle? Like mobile machinery for non-transportation functions, vehicles specifically designed for off-highway use and non-transportation trailers and semi-trailers.
- Qualified blood collector vehicles which are used by organizations for collecting blood.
Exempt carriers may be required to file tax forms with the IRS or notify the local department of motor vehicles (DMV) of the exempt status being claimed.
When is the Tax Due?
The HVUT tax year runs from July 1 to June 30, and the tax is pre-paid for the coming year. For vehicles that are in use by July 1, the deadline to file and pay is August 31.
How Much Will it Cost?
No tax if the vehicle is under 55,000 pounds. If the gross taxable weight is from 55,000 to 75,000 pounds, the tax is $100, plus $22 per 1,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds. For vehicles over 75,000 pounds, the tax is $550 per year. Here’s an example of figuring out the gross taxable weight for a truck:
Let’s say you look at your total, loaded truck weight over the last year, as determined by scale weigh-ins, and your average loaded weight is 62,000 lbs. You would owe the base of $100, plus $22 X 7, as you are 7,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds. So, it would be $100 + ($22 x 7) = $254
How Do You Pay the Tax?
The HVUT is paid using Form 2290 from the Internal Revenue Service. After you submit the form and pay any taxes owed, you will receive a “stamped” Schedule 1. If you file the form online, the IRS puts a digital watermark on the document. This is your official proof of payment and will be accepted by the DOT, DMV, and other federal authorities. For more information about e-filing of the Form 2290, please visit the IRS Website.
The Payment Schedule for HVUT for 2019-2020 is available here.
Do I Have to Carry Proof That I’ve Paid the Tax?
The recommendation is to keep a copy of your stamped Schedule 1 in your glove compartment, especially if you are crossing international borders. Border patrol will check before allowing you back into the United States.
Can an Extension be Granted on the HVUT Due Date?
Yes. You can request both an extension on your filing date and your tax payment. These extensions must be requested separately. You must explain the reason for the delay in filing/paying HVUT. Extensions granted will last no longer than six months. Before the due date of your HVUT Form 2290 tax return, you may request an extension by writing to the IRS at the following address:
Department of the Treasury – IRS
Cincinnati, OH 45999-0031
What Happens if the Tax is Not Paid?
Without the proof of payment, you will be unable to renew your tags at the DMV or renew your registration for IFTA, IRP, or UCR. Without it, you will be operating illegally, so your registration may be suspended.
How Does the HVUT Benefit the Nation?
The tax helps to increase transportation infrastructure investments, which can:
- Save lives, time and money.
- Reduce the number and severity of crashes.
- Enhance the ability of emergency responders.
- Lower fuel and insurance costs.
- Raise business productivity.
- Strengthen the nation’s economic productivity.
Top 6 HVUT Filing Tips –
- Make sure you have an employer identification number (EIN). This is required to file the HVUT. Apply for an EIN here. You cannot use a social security number.
- File on time. Penalties and interest can accrue when taxes aren’t filed on time.
- Check your work. It never hurts to re-check your entries when you’re about to file.
- E-file. Electronic tax filing is required if you have 25 or more vehicles, but all HVUT taxpayers are encouraged to file electronically.
- Know your options for payment. The HVUT can be paid with electronic funds withdrawal, Electronic Federal Tax Payment System, credit or debit card payment, or check or money order.
- Keep proper records. 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.
Carriers can lose their ability to operate in the U.S. if they fail to address their HVUT obligations. Carriers need to follow the above rules required to stay compliant in order to keep their operation in good standing and running strong without any interruptions.
“10 Things to Know About the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax”, DAT, Ariel Black, July 23, 2019.
“Step by Step Guide to Paying Your Heavy Vehicle Use Tax”, Process Agent.