Texas Tax Groups Introduction to Motor Fuel Use Tax Compliance
Truck drivers are needed everywhere in the United States to transport important freight and supplies. You see the recruiting ads on billboards, see them on TV, and hear them on the radio. The job can be boring, dangerous, interesting, frustrating, and satisfying, often all on the same day. Driving safely and delivering your freight to the destination on time are the most essential parts of the job. This article will focus on one of the time-consuming but important tasks for an 18-wheeler over-the-road truck driver – paperwork and proper record keeping.
Have the IFTA requirements been explained to you? Incomplete IFTA records can result in a penalty of $8,000 to $15,000 per truck! Texas Tax Group can get you in compliance!!!
To download the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts’ most recent International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Guidebook click here.
Most truck drivers are familiar with the record-keeping required by truck company owners, who in turn submit the records needed for the IFTA or the International Fuel Tax Agreement. This is a tax collection agreement between the 48 contiguous States and the 10 Canadian Provinces bordering the US.
Qualifying commercial motor vehicles traveling in more than one U.S. state or Canadian province are required to file a consolidated report of motor fuel use taxes (e.g., gasoline, diesel fuel, liquefied gas, compressed natural gas, and liquefied natural gas taxes) under the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA). This agreement allows for the uniform administration of motor fuel use taxation regarding qualified motor vehicles in more than one jurisdiction (more than one state or province).
These motor fuel reports are filed quarterly and are supported by the records kept by the truck driver, often called trip sheets.
The following information is some of the data that should be included in these trip sheets:
● Originating point
● Start mileage
● Name of driver
● Truck ID #
● Type of fuel used in truck
● Type of freight, destination
● Miles driven in each state
● Ending mileage
● and more
The IFTA provides guidelines for the information required, but some truck drivers and truck company owners do not collect the necessary information correctly or at all. Record keeping for a truck driver can be time-consuming and seemingly not important to their primary job of safely delivering of their freight.
Why do most truck drivers neglect or forget completely to fill out their trip sheets?
A truck driver usually starts very early to inspect the truck and make sure it is safe for themselves and their fellow drivers on the road. This pre-trip inspection is lengthy (think of it like a pilot pre-flight walk-around inspection; you’ve probably seen them do it on an airliner). They plan their route, check the weather forecast, fuel their truck, eat breakfast, and finally hit the road towards their pick-up or final destination.
If on overnight delivery, and after an 8 to 10-hour drive shift, including lunch and required breaks, the driver looks for safe parking, conducts a post-inspection, eats dinner, works on their paperwork during their break, and sleeps. Then the cycle starts again.
Many drivers do not give record-keeping the attention it requires because they have other things on their minds. They find themselves loading and unloading the trailer, backed up due to traffic or unplanned obstacles such as border crossing delays, road closures, toll booth lines, etc. Or they experience mechanical breakdowns and need to wait for a special towing truck.
I have a GPS system and tracking software, is this all I need to prove to the State my mileage and gas consumption?
Trucks are equipped with GPS or other tracking software, but this is for the truck company owner and does not provide all the information for proper record-keeping for motor fuel use tax. Drivers must give detailed attention to keeping accurate and complete trip sheets.
Truck company owners provide blank forms but little training for record-keeping. Click the links below for further information on IFTA, the importance of trip sheets to drivers and company owners, the type of information required, etc.
Dino Marcaccio, President (ex-Texas Comptroller Auditor, 16 Years)
TEXAS TAX GROUP, INC.
9950 Westpark Drive, Ste 430
Houston, Texas 77063
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