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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving from the ExpressTruckTax Family!

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The ExpressTruckTax Support Team wishes truckers far and wide a Happy Thanksgiving!

We hope you had the opportunity to hit the highways homeward bound this week. But just in case you’re OTR this holiday, we posted some easy Thanksgiving recipes to cook right in the cab of your truck!

Which leads me to my next point: What I’m thankful for this year (and every year). In fact, it’s something that all of us at ExpressTruckTax are grateful for. Can you guess what it is?

You.

We’re thankful for all of our users across the world who are helping to sustain our USA-based company in our small town of Rock Hill, SC. Thanks to you, we get to keep our awesome jobs. So thank you for choosing us.

But we’re especially thankful for truckers. As we sit down to tables covered in turkey, and stuffing, and casseroles, and PIES!, we will remember who made all of it possible, and that’s the truckers who worked non-stop to move things across the world and to our local markets. And you did it all on-time and safely! Truly astonishing.

So thank you, Truckers of the world. This Thanksgiving, the ExpressTruckTax team will be thinking of you and the sacrifices you’ve made to make our holidays special. We only hope we can return the favor by providing you with the easiest to use HVUT E-filing software and the best support experience of your life!

To see what else our team is thankful for, check out our SPAN Facebook page.


Thanksgiving Support Hours


To give our Support Team time with their families, our offices will be closed Thursday 11/27 and Friday 11/28. We’ll resume our normal support hours Monday.

But if you’re in a serious bind, they’ll be providing emergency email support through the holiday. Just send them your S.O.S. at support@expresstrucktax.com, and one of our dedicated support heroes will get back to you in a flash!


Thank you again, from our entire ExpressTruckTax family. We hope you enjoy this time with friends and family that you so much deserve. Drive safely, everybody.



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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Thanksgiving on the Road: Recipes for Cooking a Feast in Your Cab!

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If you’re spending this Thanksgiving on the road, it doesn’t mean you can’t properly celebrate!

Whether you have the day off to relax or you’re driving non-stop, we have some easy recipes you can cook right in the cab of your truck! Between a one-pot Thanksgiving meal (with zero clean up) or a more complex Super Supper with all of the fixin’s, these recipes are sure to get you in the mood to give thanks!

First up, Misty’s oh-so-easy and incredibly delicious one-dish meal! It only takes 5 minutes to prep, and you can keep driving while it simmers for a few hours (just be sure to secure the bottom and the lid of your crockpot or skillet!). And to prove that it's easy and no kitchen is needed, she cooked it in our office, right on her desk! It’s sure to fill your cab with delectable aromas, and fill your soul with happiness.



For this recipe you’ll need only two tools: an electric skillet or crock pot and aluminum foil. The ingredients are as follows:
  • one apple: cored and halved
  • one onion: peeled and chopped. You can buy onions pre-cut in many grocery stores!
  • baby carrots
  • string beans-pre-cleaned
  • a boneless sliced turkey breast–or a ham, or even Tofurky, if that’s what you fancy!
  • and for seasoning, some honey, cinnamon, and a can of cola! May seem crazy now, but trust me, your taste buds will love it!

Step 1: First line your skillet with foil, or your crockpot with a liner.


Step 2: While the skillet is heating, core the apple and cut it in half, then wrap it in aluminum foil. Leaving the top of the foil open, pour honey into the core of the apple until it’s about half-way full, then sprinkle cinnamon on top. Finish wrapping up the apple tight, and set it aside.



Step 3: Place the turkey in the center and surround with carrots and green beans, or any veggie of your choosing. Nestle your foil-wrapped apple on the side, and then, for the grand finale, pour a can of cola on top of it all, only about half a can. 

No, your food won’t taste like soda, but it will definitely have a sweetness to it, and it keeps it moist! For dietary reasons, you could easily substitute the cola with vegetable or chicken stock.


Cover it and let it cook for at least 1 ½ hours, but Misty prefers to let it simmer for 3-4, cooking it on medium heat the first hour, and then on low heat for the remaining time.



This is the finished product. Look how colorful! And best of all, once you’ve devoured it, just wrap up the foil, and you’re done with clean-up!

What Misty prepared here is enough to serve two, and have turkey sandwiches leftover, so be sure to have bread and gravy handy! Total cost was about $20, but with enough for 4 servings, that’s a much lower cost per meal than the $14 and up you’d pay for a truck stop buffet!


Full-Blown Feast with All the Fixin's


If you’ve got the time and tools to go all out, then here are a few more ideas and recipes for you! You can still cook a turkey with some trimmings in a crock pot like above, and in addition, make some more sides and desserts that will rock your world!

If you have a hot pot or streamer, you can steam broccoli or corn. You can also boil some potatoes to make mashed potatoes, or boil sweet potatoes and prepare an easy Sweet Potato Casserole.

  • To make the sweet potato casserole, simply clean and cut the potatoes, and boil them until you can easily poke a fork through. Once soft, drain them and mash them with a few pinches of brown sugar & a handful of pecans, and top with marshmallows, if you’re feeling extra feisty!
If you’ve got a toaster oven, you can not only make some biscuits (frozen or in a can to save time), you can also make Stuffing!

  • Take a french baguette and tear apart into bite-size pieces. Lay on a foil-lined tray (one should’ve come with your toaster oven.) Chop onions and celery, and mix with the bread crumbs. Next sprinkle with plenty of sage and rosemary, depending on how strong you like it. Finally, mix in some broth (or drippings from whatever main dish you prepared) and slap a few pats of butter on top. Let it bake for 1 ½ hours, or until it’s crisp on top. You could even prepare in a crock pot, it just may not turn out as crispy crunchy (which is how I like my stuffing!).

To top this all off, you need a decadent dessert, and what could be better on Thanksgiving than a traditional pumpkin pie! Well, this variation on the classic recipe is better! I’ve never been a lover of pie crust, so this recipe for a Crock-Pot Crustless Pumpkin Pie is my personal favorite. You’ll still get a little crunch on top, cobbler-style, but mostly the ooey gooey pumpkin pie filling.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • 1 large can of pumpkin puree (29 oz.)
  • 1 can of evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 2 ½ tsp cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice blend)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 package of instant cake mix (something festive, like a spice cake to complement the flavors)
  • ½ stick of butter, melted
Preparation is super easy too. Just whisk your eggs, then add in the pumpkin, milk, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Once smooth, resist the urge to eat it straight out of the bowl, and dump the mixture into a lined or greased crock-pot.

Next pour the pack of cake mix on top, sprinkle with any leftover brown sugar, and top it with a few slivers of butter. Then just secure the lid and let that puppy cook for 3 hours or more on low heat. If you keep driving while it’s cooking, try not to be distracted by the heavenly scents swirling around in your truck! And of course, don’t forget to give thanks before you dig in!


There you have it, whether you only have 5 minutes and a single crock-pot, or you’ve got a few hours, multiple appliances, and a burning desire to be on Top Chef, you can have a healthful and delicious Thanksgiving supper, right in the comfort of your truck. No matter which meal you make, you’re sure to have plenty of leftovers and save tons of money on those expensive truck stop buffets.

Do you have a signature truck-worthy dish? Share it with the ExpressTruckTax Support Heroes! We’re always looking for new recipes that we can make in a flash. So send us your pics or recipes on Facebook and Twitter!

Happy Cooking!

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Get Your Money Back Part 2: How to E-File Form 2290 with a Credit Vehicle

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We’re back, Trucking Nation, with Part 2 of our guide to getting your money back!

‘Tis the season where truckers are trading in their old rides and upgrading to a new model. But how does this affect your HVUT?

Well if you have a new vehicle, and your previous vehicle (the one you already paid HVUT for) was sold, lost, or destroyed, you can “transfer” the HVUT over to the new vehicle, in many cases without losing any money!


To recap a few highlights of our last blog, here are a few quick tips for E-filing a credit vehicle:

  • When E-filing a credit vehicle, the IRS will prorate the credit for the old vehicle based on the first used month of the new vehicle. So it’s best to avoid any overlap in dates, or you’ll owe more tax.
  • To avoid extra tax, do the transfer as close to the end of the month as possible. If you sell the old vehicle on the 1st of the month, the IRS will still charge you a prorated fee for that entire month, even if it’s only in use for one day. This is because the IRS prorates on a monthly basis, not daily.
  • There is a deadline. The new 2290 must be filed by the last day of the month following the month in which the transfer occurred. So if I traded in my truck today, November 20th, then my new 2290 must be E-filed by December 31st, 2014.
  • If you’re not sure whether you need to file a 2290 with a credit vehicle or a Form 8849 for a refund (yes, there’s a difference!), check out Part 1 of this blog for an easy-to-read infographic that will help you figure it out. Or you can also call our Support Heroes, and they’ll gladly tell you!
The transfer process is easy: simply E-File a Form 2290 with ExpressTruckTax, and add a credit vehicle to your return.

Gather ‘round, and I’ll show you how to do it in three simple steps!

Step 1: First-Used Month




Create an ExpressTruckTax account. Simply enter your name and business information, including the EIN. If you’re a returning user, just login and skip this step!

To get the ball rolling, you’ll now click “Start a New Return,” and select “Form 2290. Then enter the first used month and year of the NEW VEHICLE. Just select the month in which you purchased the vehicle.


Step 2: Taxable Vehicle





Now to add the Taxable Vehicle info. Again, this is information about the new one. Click “New,” and enter the vehicle’s VIN, Unit #, Taxable Gross Weight, and check whether or not the vehicle is used for logging. Hit save, and continue.

You’ll end up skipping the next few screens for suspended and prior year suspended vehicles, and head straight to the good part- the part where you get money credited!


Step 3: Credit Vehicle





Now for the icing on the cake! Click +Add a Credit Vehicle, and in the pop-up window, enter the information of the vehicle that was sold (or traded in), lost, or destroyed.

First enter the VIN, followed by the first used month when you initially paid the taxes on the vehicle. Next add the gross vehicle weight, and check whether it was used for logging.

To speed up the process, returning users can auto-fill the above fields by just typing in the first few characters of the VIN, and then our system will take it from there and input the vehicle you’re looking for!

If you’re a large company filing for dozens, or even hundreds of credit vehicles, use our Bulk Upload option to get the old trucks’ information in our system, and then start typing in VIN’s and watch the auto-fill magic happen.

No matter how you input the Credit Vehicle info, there’s one last step. Indicate the “Loss Event” for vehicle(s). Simply select the reason from the drop down menu, i.e. sold, destroyed, or stolen, and then use the handy calendar next to this field to select the date on which the loss event occurred. Then save and head to the next screen. You’re pretty much done!


You Did It- Without Any Complicated Calculations!


The 2290 fields are now finished. All that’s left is entering your payment–you can choose to pay any tax owed to the IRS by Direct Debit, EFTPS, or Check or Money order. Then review your information for errors. Our system will also perform our signature Instant Audit to check for mistakes and ensure acceptance.

It’s also important to note that you’ll see the total tax you owe the IRS, and rejoice that you didn’t have to use a Partial Period Tax table to figure out the difference yourself! Our system does it for you. Now that’s something to be thankful for!





And you’re done! Securely transfer this new 2290 to the IRS, and receive your new stamped Schedule 1 in just minutes!

We’ll automatically email you the new Schedule 1 as soon as the IRS processes your return; however, you can also choose to receive notifications on the status of your return and payment via text message, fax, or postal mail! Hooray for convenience!



If you’re still not sure what forms you need to file, or if you’re a first time user and want to get started, call our Support Heroes at 704.234.6005 or send them a message via live chat. For 24/7 assistance, email at support@expresstrucktax.com.

There are lots of perks to upgrading your ride, and avoiding extra HVUT taxes with these tips from ExpressTruckTax is just one of those perks. Now get E-filing and get that credit money!


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Get Your Money Back! A Guide to Filing for Credit Vehicles & Claiming Refunds

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You know that they say: New Year, New Truck! And if they don’t say it, they should start.

What could be better than kicking off the New Year with a shiny new ride! And with all of the end of year sales, I’m sure there are plenty of Truckers out there writing a list to Santa right now, asking for a beastly new 18 wheeler. (Boy, would that be difficult for Santa to get down the chimney and cram into your stocking! But hey, who are we to doubt Christmas Magic!)

Even without the help of Santa and his reindeer, it seems that plenty ExpressTruckTax users are already upgrading their rides! With 2015 on the horizon, our Support Heroes are getting lots of questions about transferring a Schedule 1 from a previously filed truck to a new one. They’re also getting questions about transitioning to a new business, new business name, or a different EIN, but with the same truck.

And then there’s always those who sell or lose their trucks, and decide to exit the transportation biz altogether. If you’re leaving the business mid-tax year, can you get part of your hard-earned HVUT money back?

We have a guide to help you with all of these scenarios! Whether you’re doing the trade-in shuffle or changing your business name or EIN, here’s how to get your Form 2290 sorted AND get some of your money back, too!


“Transferring” a Vehicle (AKA: Credit Vehicles)


  • If you purchased a new truck mid-tax year, and your previous truck was sold, stolen, or destroyed, then you can get a new stamped Schedule 1 without paying extra tax. Many refer to this as “transferring,” but that’s not exactly how it works with the IRS. 
  • Here’s why it’s not really a transfer per se. A Schedule 1 cannot be transferred from one vehicle to the next. However, you can effectively file your HVUT and get a new stamped Schedule 1, without paying any extra tax. 
  • And how, might you ask? You need to E-file a Form 2290 for the new vehicle and add a credit vehicle to that same return with the information of the previous vehicle. By adding a credit vehicle, you’ll receive a prorated tax credit for the remaining months of the tax year through July 1st. 
  • When E-filing a 2290 with a Credit Vehicle, the IRS will prorate the credit for the old vehicle based on the first used month of the new vehicle. The first used month is the month in which you purchased the new vehicle.
  • To save the most money, do the transfer at the end of the month. The IRS prorates the tax on a monthly basis, not daily. This means that If you buy the new vehicle at the beginning of the month, even on the very first day, the IRS will still apply tax for the entire month for the previous vehicle, as well as the new one.
  • The new Form 2290 must be filed by the last day of the month following the month in which the “transfer” occurred. This means that if you switch vehicles today, November 18th, 2014, the new 2290 would need to be filed by December 31st, 2014. 
  • However, this transfer process (E-filing a 2290 with a credit vehicle) will only work if the business name and EIN remain the same. If they’re different, see the instructions below.




*Head over to Part 2 of this blog to see step-by-step instructions on E-filing your 2290 with a credit vehicle!*



Change of Business Name and/or EIN

  • If your truck remains the same, but your business name changes, you must file a new 2290 and get a new stamped Schedule 1 with the correct business name. 
  • Even if your business name only changes slightly, you must still file a new 2290. Typically, this occurs when a business becomes an LLC or corporation for example, in which case you must update your Name Control so that it matches your EIN in the IRS database, and then E-file a new Form 2290. 
  • Be sure to update your vehicle’s title to match as the DMV will not consider your Schedule 1 valid if it doesn’t match your title exactly.
  • If only your EIN changes, you must also file another Form 2290 to receive an updated Schedule 1.
  • In all of these instances, you can still get some of the tax money that you already paid back. After E-filing the 2290, file a Form 8849 under the previous business name/EIN to receive a prorated refund of the HVUT.

Sold, Lost, or Destroyed Vehicle- without a Replacement

  • If your vehicle was sold, stolen, or destroyed during the current tax year, and you aren’t replacing it with a new vehicle, you must E-file Form 8849 to receive a prorated refund of the HVUT paid.
  • While E-filing Form 8849 will only take 5 minutes with us, it will take the IRS 4-6 weeks to process the request and mail you a check for the refund.
  • Check out my previous blog for a step-by-step guide on E-filing Form 8849!
I know this is a lot to take in, so I made a nifty little infographic for you to see what you need to file at-a-glance–because I love you guys!




Still confused? That’s what the Support Heroes are for! Their digits are 704.234.6005. Call them and speak to an E-filing expert in our hometown of Rock Hill, SC. Plus they can assist you in English, Spanish, or Russian! If you need 24/7 assistance, just shoot them an email at support@expresstrucktax.com.

And if you still don't have that new truck yet, our Support Heroes can put in a good word for you with Santa. Yep, they have connections!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

EIN: Obtaining an Employer Identification Number- Safely!

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The transportation industry is swarming with long and confusing acronyms. IFTA, HVUT, IRP, UCR, MC, FMCSA, NY HUT, KYU, and the list goes on.. and on… and on.

One of these pesky three-letter acronyms is E.I.N. You’ve probably heard it bandied about before, but do you have any idea what it is?

The Employer Identification Number, also called the Federal Tax Identification Number, is required for filing many taxes and registrations, including Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. As such, registering for your E.I.N. is one of the first and most important steps for obtaining your own operating authority.

Here’s the bad news. There’s a slew of scams out there, charging outrageous fees for obtaining an E.I.N. But filing for an E.I.N. yourself is completely free. Crazy!

Let’s get educated on the subject together so you can better protect yourself from the scams lurking on the interwebs!

What is an E.I.N.?


The Employer Identification Number is used by the Internal Revenue Service to identify your business. It is a unique 9-digit number used to file heavy vehicle use tax, or any other tax through the IRS. The EIN is also required to register for your International Fuel Tax Agreement license in many states.

The IRS used to accept social security numbers in lieu of EIN’s. However, as of May 2011, SSN’s are no longer allowed. Your return will be rejected without a valid EIN.

When your business is assigned these 9 digits, they’re assigned to the exact business name and address you provide. This is known as “Name Control.” It’s crucial that when filing your HVUT you enter the EIN and the business name exactly as the IRS has it on record. It cannot just be your name, your business’s nickname, or just “what you’re known by around town.”

If your business name and EIN do not match exactly, your return will likely be rejected. If you have an EIN, but forgot your name control, it’s good practice to check with the IRS prior to filing. Call the hotline at 1.800.829.4933 to verify your name control.

But don’t just take my word for it! Listen to the calming tones of Sir Charles Hardy, our fearless Director of Tax Products, in the short video below explain why you need an EIN.




How to Get One- The Right Way and the Wrong Way


There are several ways to apply for the EIN yourself- for free! When filing directly with the IRS, you can apply online (preferred), or via fax or postal mail, and there is no charge. Just be sure you are applying through the IRS website directly, and not on a shady, third-party site.

If you choose to apply online, you must have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number, which is a valid Social Security Number of Individual Taxpayer ID. When filing online, you’ll get immediate validation and you’ll be issued the EIN right away. However, there are a few pitfalls to avoid with a freshly-issued EIN, see the segment below on rejection.

If you’re too short on time to file the EIN yourself, there is another way! A safe way that won’t charge you hundreds of dollars and make you wait weeks to receive the EIN. One that won’t steal and sell your information either.

Our friends over at Truck Services of North America specialize in permits, registrations, and tax filings. As a premier processing service (also based in our hometown of Rock Hill, SC!), they’ve helped countless new trucking operations obtain their authority, and they’ve applied for thousands of EIN’s. They’ll take care of your EIN registration completely for just $50, or take care of your entire authority with one of their full-service deluxe packages. Give them a shout at 803.386.0320 or email them at support@tsnamerica.com to see how they can help get your new business off the ground faster.



Avoiding Rejection


When you apply for an EIN online, you’ll be issued your unique 9 digit number right away. However, the EIN will not be valid in the E-filing system for at least 10 business days. During this waiting period, the IRS is entering your business information in their system. Until that happens, any tax return, including Form 2290, that you file with this new EIN will be rejected.

If you’ve had a 2290 rejected for an invalid EIN, our Support Heroes can help you correct it and retransmit it.


I Lost My EIN!


If you already have an EIN, but can’t seem to find it, here are a few ways to retrieve your digits.

  • 1. If you’ve E-filed with ExpressTruckTax before, your EIN is stored in your account! Simply login and view your business details, or view a previously filed return with your EIN on it!
  • 2. Check with a bank or local/state institution you’ve applied for a license with. Both should have your EIN on record.
  • 3. Finally, you can always call the IRS hotline, and they’ll give you the EIN over the phone after verifying your identity. The Business & Specialty Tax Line is 1.800.829.4933.


Wherever you are on your EIN journey, the ExpressTruckTax support heroes are always standing by and ready to help! They’ll give you all of the information you need to register your EIN, retrieve a lost EIN, or retransmit a rejected return.

Ring them at 704.234.6005 or send them a message via live chat. For 24/7 assistance, email at support@expresstrucktax.com.

And remember, when giving out information on the internet, be mindful of who you’re giving it to. ExpressTruckTax is a secure, IRS-certified site, and our heroes are a league of highly-trained truck tax pro’s. They won’t steer you wrong!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

HVUT & IFTA Recordkeeping Requirements

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It’s time to awake from your sugar comas, Trucking Nation!

While we hope you had an extra spooky, candy-filled Halloween, it’s time to pack away your costume and dispose of the incriminating evidence cast so carelessly upon your living room floor. 

Yes, I am referring to that mountain of candy wrappers next to your couch. Destroy the evidence at once & hide your shame!

The cold hard light of Monday morning demands that we discuss grown-up business now. And what could be more “grown-up” than recordkeeping!

A necessary evil, proper recordkeeping may not be fun, but it saves you a lot of pain in the long run, like audits from the IRS or from your IFTA base jurisdiction. So if you want to avoid the dreaded IRS or IFTA audits, you’ve just got to ask yourself one question. Am I doing it right?

Are you keeping the necessary records for HVUT and IFTA? If not, now is the perfect time to get your act together! Here’s how…

HVUT Recordkeeping Requirements:

  • The VIN number and detailed descriptions of all taxable highway vehicles registered in your name.
  • The date you purchased the vehicle, as well as the name and address of the person/dealer you purchased it from.
  • The weight of the loads carried by the vehicle, described in accordance with record-keeping requirements in your state.
  • Record the first month of each period in which a taxable use of the vehicle occurred. Along with this, keep records proving that the vehicle was not being used in a taxable manner prior to that date (if you owned it during that time).
  • For “Category W” Suspended Vehicles (vehicles that travel fewer than 5,000 miles on public highways during the tax year or 7,500 for agricultural vehicles), record all highway mileage.
  • For agricultural vehicles, keep a record of the number of miles driven on the farm.
  • If you sell or dispose of the vehicle, you must provide details of how including the name and address of the person who purchases it, if applicable.
  • Keep all of these records for at least 3 years after the date the tax is due or paid, whichever is later.
  • Keep copies of all returns and schedules you’ve filed.
  • These records must be available for review by the IRS.
And here’s the great news for ExpressTruckTax users! All returns filed with us, along with the stamped Schedule 1, can be retrieved anytime from the Dashboard in your account. You can view, download, or print them if necessary. 

Plus, all of your vehicle info is kept safe & sound in Truck Zone. And it’s organized too! From VIN #’s, to unit numbers, license plate numbers, DOT #’s, & gross vehicle weights–you’ve got an archive to reference if needed. And you can view it anywhere, anytime, as long as you have an internet connection. Win!

IFTA Recordkeeping Requirements:

  • Distance records must include the exact miles driven per jurisdiction and the precise routes driven, including any detours or out-of-route mileage.
  • Fuel records must include all fuel purchased, the name & address of where it was purchased, the cost per gallon, the total cost of each sale, and the original receipt. The receipt must be in good condition with no wrinkles or writing on it.
  • Always check the requirements in your base state.
  • These records must be kept for at least three years after the close of the quarter. They must also be available for audit in your base jurisdiction at all times.
While the third quarter IFTA deadline just passed, it’s certainly not too early to think about the fourth quarter! If you had a particularly hard time filling your IFTA last minute, then why not get a head start with TruckLogics!

Like ExpressTruckTax, we designed TruckLogics to be user-friendly and affordable. With the ProMiles add on for professional routing, you can keep up with daily trip sheets in one click! Then, at the end of the IFTA quarter, you can compile all of those trip sheets into a completed IFTA return, ready to be printed and mailed. Sign up for a free trial, the first 30 days are on us, and there’s no credit card required!

If you’ve got questions about TruckLogics, or about proper recordkeeping, ring our Support Heroes at 704.234.6005 or send them a message via live chat. For 24/7 assistance, email us at support@expresstrucktax.com.


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ExpressTruckTax Blog

E-file your HVUT Form 2290 with ExpressTruckTax.