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Thursday, March 31, 2011

IRS Form 2290 and IFTA(International Fuel Tax Agreement)

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What are they?
IRS Form 2290 is what is used by the government to collect what is referred to as the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax or HVUT Tax. It is a fee that the IRS requires all vehicles with registered gross weights equal to or exceeding 55,000 pounds to pay annually on heavy vehicles operating on public highways. The tax collected is a significant source of transportation funding in the U.S. In 2006 alone, the HVUT generated more than $1.4 billion in Federal Highway Trust Fund (HTF) revenue.

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is an agreement between jurisdictions to simplify the reporting of motor fuel taxes. Under this agreement, one quarterly fuel use tax report is filed representing miles traveled, fuel purchased and used, and taxes/credits due in each member jurisdiction. The base jurisdiction then distributes the funds to each affected jurisdiction according to information contained in the quarterly fuel use tax reports. An interstate motor carrier operating "qualified motor vehicles" between at least 2 member jurisdictions (The 48 contiguous states of the US and 10 Canadian provinces) must have an International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) license and decals issued by their base jurisdiction. If you have the IFTA license, you must file the Quarterly IFTA Return to your base jurisdiction.


How do they Work?
Besides the fact that they are both fees imposed on heavy vehicles, these are both similar in that they are both very complicated.  The complications with IRS Form 2290 come from the difficulty of actually filing one.  The trouble with IFTA is that it is an incredibly detailed system.  

The IRS Form 2290 includes a Schedule 1 which must be stamped by the IRS.  This can either be mailed to the IRS, which can take up to several weeks to process.  It can also be taken directly to the IRS office, which can take several hours of your day.  This must be accompanied by the proof of EFTPS payment.
 IFTA requires drivers of Heavy Vehicles to keep trip logs of miles traveled as well as how much fuel was purchased in each state or province. IFTA must be filed quarterly and the filing date is the 30th of the following month.  These trip logs are difficult to keep up because they require very detailed information. As mentioned earlier, these forms are then filed with their base jurisdiction.  Most states do not provide E-Filing as of yet. Therefore, most of the time these forms are mailed to the state.  

A simple solution for both of these is to use an online E-File Provider.  The most advanced of the available services is www.expresstrucktax.com.  Express Truck Tax acts as a one stop shop for all truck tax needs.  Through them, you can E-File your Form 2290 with the IRS.  It also provides a way to keep online records of your mileage and fuel purchases for IFTA reporting.  This can make the IFTA process much easier.
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Monday, March 28, 2011

How Fuel Tax-IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) Works?

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What is IFTA?
The International Fuel Tax Agreement, or IFTA, represents a tax collection agreement by and among the 48 contiguous United States and the 10 Canadian Provinces bordering the United States.  IFTA is a quarterly tax on qualified highway motor vehicles that operate in at least 2 out of the 58 total jurisdictions.  

Who Must Pay?
A vehicle is considered to be a qualified motor vehicle if it is used, designed, or maintained for the transportation of persons or property and has a gross vehicle or registered gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds.  A Vehicle is also considered to be a qualified motor vehicle if it has three axles, regardless of its weight.  Finally, a vehicle is considered to be a qualified motor vehicle if the combined weight of all of its parts is greater than 26,000 pounds.

How Does it Work?
Each Vehicle has a Base Jurisdiction, which is the state or province in which the vehicle is registered.  Fuel Tax must be filed with each jurisdiction each quarter.  Each state or province has a different Rate and those rates change quarterly.  Each driver must keep a trip log of how many miles are traveled in each state or province, as well as how much fuel was purchased in each state or province.  

What is IFTA’s Purpose?
The official purpose of IFTA is “to promote and encourage the fullest and most efficient possible use of the highway system by making uniform the administration of motor fuels use taxation laws with respect to qualified member vehicles operated in multiple member jurisdictions.”  When IFTA is filed with the appropriate jurisdiction, The Fuel Tax Report is then used to determine the tax amount due as well as the refund due.  It is also used to redistribute taxes from collecting jurisdictions to jurisdictions that it is due.  One of the reasons for the Fuel Tax is to ensure that a vehicle pays taxes to all deserving jurisdictions. For Example: if a vehicle travels through a state, but buys no gas while in that state, then there was no fuel tax paid to that state through the purchase of gasoline.  Part of their tax would then be redistributed to the state that received no fuel tax.
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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Filing a Form 2290 with the IRS

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The Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, or HVUT, must be filed with the IRS for any highway motor vehicle that exceeds a gross weight of 55,000 pounds.  IRS Form 2290 Schedule 1 is used to report all vehicles for which you are reporting tax (including an increase in taxable gross weight) and those that you are reporting suspension of the tax by category and vehicle identification number (VIN).  The Schedule 1 may also be used as proof of payment to register your vehicle in any state. Use the stamped Schedule 1 that was returned to you by the IRS for this purpose.

Who Must File?
You must file a Form 2290 and Schedule 1 for the tax period beginning on July 1, 2010, and ending on June 30, 2011, if a highway motor vehicle is registered, or required to be registered, in your name under state, District of Columbia, Canadian, or Mexican law at the time of its first use during the period and the vehicle has a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more.  Any type of business entity may file a Form 2290 with the IRS.

What Vehicles are Taxable?
The IRS considers taxable Highway Motor Vehicles to be any self-propelled vehicle that is designed to carry a load over public highways.  Examples of such vehicles include trucks, truck tractors, and buses.  The IRS typically does not consider vehicles such as vans, pickup trucks, panel trucks, or similar vehicles because they do not typically weigh 55,000 pounds or more.  A vehicle may consist of a chassis, or a chassis and a body, but does not include the load of the vehicle.  

Who is Exempt?
Although it is rare, some Vehicles that fit the above description may be exempt from the HVUT and Filing requirements of Form 2290.  To officially be exempt from filing Form 2290, the vehicle must be owned and operated by the following:
  • The Federal Government
  • The District of Columbia
  • state or local government
  • American National Red Cross
  • Non-Profit Volunteer Fire Department, Ambulance Association, or Rescue Squad
  • Indian Tribe Government (Only if the Vehicle is Used for essential Tribe or Government Function)
  • Mass Transportation Authority (Only if granted certain powers normally exercised by the state)
  • Qualified Blood Collector Vehicles
  • Mobile Machinery that meets specifications for a chassis

When to File?
A Form 2290 must be filed annually, for each taxable vehicle that is used on public highways during the current period.  The Current Period is from July 1, 2010 and ends on June 30, 2011.  A Form 2290 must also be filed once a vehicle is placed in service.  The due date for each month is the last day of the following month.  For example: if a vehicle is placed in service on October 3rd, the Form 2290 will be due on November 30th.  

How to File?
Although it is possible to paper file, E-Filing is required for each return containing at least 25 vehicles.  The IRS does encourage everyone to file electronically due to its security and speed.  This is highly recommended for Form 2290 in particular because the filing due dates are always only one month away.  There are several providers of services that can help you E-File Form 2290 with the IRS, one such provider is www.expresstrucktax.com.  They provide a very excellent service for all Truck Tax Needs. 
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Don't Be Scammed by Fake IRS Communications

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The Information Below comes From The Official IRS Website at http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=202394,00.html

Don’t be Scammed by Fake IRS Communications

The IRS receives thousands of reports each year from taxpayers who receive suspicious emails, phone calls, faxes or notices claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service. Many of these scams fraudulently use the Internal Revenue Service name or logo as a lure to make the communication more authentic and enticing. The goal of these scams – known as phishing – is to trick you into revealing personal and financial information. The scammers can then use that information – like your Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers – to commit identity theft or steal your money.
Here are five things the IRS wants you to know about phishing scams:
1. The IRS doesn’t ask for detailed personal and financial information like PIN numbers, passwords or similar secret access information for credit card, bank or other financial accounts.
2. The IRS does not initiate taxpayer communications through e-mail and won’t send a message about your tax account. If you receive an e-mail from someone claiming to be the IRS or directing you to an IRS site:
·  Do not reply to the message.
·  Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain malicious code that will infect your computer.
·  Do not click on any links. If you clicked on links in a suspicious e-mail or phishing website and entered confidential information, visit the IRS website and enter the search term 'identity theft' for more information and resources to help.
3. The address of the official IRS website is http://www.irs.gov. Do not be confused or misled by sites claiming to be the IRS but ending in .com, .net, .org or other designations instead of .gov. If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but you suspect it is bogus, do not provide any personal information on the suspicious site and report it to the IRS.
4. If you receive a phone call, fax or letter in the mail from an individual claiming to be from the IRS but you suspect they are not an IRS employee, contact the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to determine if the IRS has a legitimate need to contact you. Report any bogus correspondence.
5. You can help shut down these schemes and prevent others from being victimized. Details on how to report specific types of scams and what to do if you’ve been victimized are available at http://www.irs.gov, keyword “phishing.”

We at Express Truck Tax care about the security of your information deeply.  Please be wary of suspicious emails, faxes, or letters that claim to be from the IRS.   We take the utmost care of your information and work directly with the IRS to guarantee the most secure transfer of information.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011

ExpressTruckTax.com can help you file Form 2290 and Fuel Tax

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Any individual buying or using a heavy duty truck must file and pay the Heavy Duty Trucks Road Tax. The filing process involves filling out Form 2290. You can use ExpressTruckTax.com to fill it out and get it done in just a few minutes. Our service fees are the lowest in the industry, starting at $9.90 for a single truck filing. It sure beats driving to the IRS field office and waiting in line for hours.

Make sure to have the Vehicle Identification Numbers of any vehicles you are filing for. If the truck(s) you’re filing for will travel 5,000 miles or less during the tax period (July to June of the next year), a tax refund can be claimed by the filer. That also applies if the heavy highway vehicle was destroyed, stolen or sold during the tax period. Claiming the refund requires a different form. ExpressTruckTax will even help tax payers file for their refund using Form 8849.

There are different tax rules for different types of trucks–depending on the weight and what the truck is being used for. The taxable gross weight is 55,000 pounds or higher in most cases. Refer to Form 2290 or ExpressTruckTax.com for help with your particular truck.

Need to file your IFTA Fuel Tax?  We just introduced Fuel Tax filing service to our product portfolio. You can now file IFTA fuel tax for unlimited Trucks for $24.95. Also, you can maintain the Trip Sheets online for free and generate IFTA returns at the end of the quarter.

ExpressTruckTax.com offers bundles that will let you file forms for hundreds of trucks for one price. This is useful if you have trucks that aren’t going on the road till later in the year.
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Friday, January 14, 2011

Riding The Freight Rates Roller Coaster

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Featured Blogger
Benjamin Bellville
If you are planning to start a small trucking company you will need to understand the way freight rates work. Without knowing the cycle of things you might just be in for a surprise that will come up behind you and mug you out of the blue. In other businesses the scheme of things work on supply and demand more so then they do in trucking. Here’s what you can look forward to.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to create a sense that going into the trucking business is a mistake, I’m simply not going to sugar coat it like so many people do. By knowing how things really work you will be better prepared for the volatility that goes hand in hand with trucking. While the rewards can at times be fruitful, at other times it’s similar to ramming your head off a brick wall continuously. You have to be stubborn and have a firm backbone to survive these times or you might go mad.

When you read reports that freight tonnage is on the rise in America you might get a little excited thinking that immediately you will start seeing higher freight rates, but that is false hope. Like seasons of the year trucking runs on a cycle. It’s not set in stone when these cycles will kick in, but once you get the feel for it you can adjust your operations accordingly to make it through the rough patches easier.

Usually it takes 2-3 months for freight rates to rise when consumption is on an incline. Your main cost involved with moving freight is of course fuel. Fuel prices have no rhyme or reason and more often than not when freight rates are down the oil companies are looking to maintain profit by raising their prices. I know it makes no sense, but this is normally how it happens. As freight rates start to rise and trucking companies begin buying more fuel then the price of fuel will drop again, but much slower than the time it took to rise.

Because of this effect what happens is there are several sweet spots throughout the year that are short lived pockets of higher profits. The freight rates rise slowly and the fuel prices fall slowly and eventually meet at a point where they float for a moment in perfect harmony.

When you learn to get the feel for this happening then you can be ready to jump on the market like an old school fake wrestler off the top rope. Don’t get discouraged, trucking is a big boy/girl ride full of extreme twists and turns, but when you learn to take advantage of the good times you will be better prepared to crawl through the bad.

Speaking of being prepared to take advantage of a market in your favor you should check out how ExpressTruckTax makes it a trucking company owners market all year when it comes to your trucking taxes.
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why Former Drivers Make The Best Trucking Dispatchers

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Featured Blogger
Benjamin Bellville
If you are running a small trucking company and are large enough that you are needing to hire one or more trucking dispatchers then you really need to consider that a former driver can fill the position better than anyone else. Allow me to point out my reasoning here and by the time you have finished reading this I am sure you will agree with my reasoning.

Depending on the size of your company and how you approach your freight logistics you may have a need for trucking dispatchers who are able to also book freight with brokers and perform sales to obtain direct freight customers as well. While you may be able to find someone with sales experience they often will not have a firm understanding of what it realistically takes to transport the freight.

I’ve had dispatchers with no driving experience before and all they could do was look at things from an on paper best scenario viewpoint. These types will drive your drivers away quicker than anything because they tend to talk down to drivers and make them feel like dirt in general. It’s an attitude that will fester through your company and hurt you in the long run. While it would be difficult to teach these types what being out on the road is really like, it would be much easier to teach a former driver the freight logistics aspect of the trucking company.

A former driver can relate to the trials the current truck drivers face on a daily basis and they know what is possible to do legally, they will make your employees feel more at ease sort of like they have someone on their side in the grand scheme of things. Happier drivers will be more productive drivers as a result. Less stress will also lead to healthier truck drivers.

Using former drivers as trucking dispatchers can also save you money in the long run as they will know better how to handle emergency situations as more than likely they have probably experienced it themselves while out on the road. They will also have a basic knowledge of most other operations within the company and can be turned into the ultimate multitasking machine over time.

As you can see it just makes sense as a strong business decision that will provide a strong inner working to your trucking company for years to come. The same way that doing business a truck tax company like Express2290 will be a smart choice to benefit your bottom line.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Things Freight Factoring Companies Won't Tell You

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Featured Blogger
Benjamin Bellville
Freight factoring companies are sometimes a necessary evil if you own a small trucking company. If you are running an operation that needs to have the cash rolling in on a more regular basis than the industry average days to pay of 30-45 days then at some point you will do business with freight factoring companies. Before you get too tied up with one though you need to have a good understanding of some things they will never be upfront and voluntarily tell you and also know that they for the most part do not care about your success.

For any small trucking company I highly recommend hauling freight for a quality quick pay freight broker whenever possible if you are in need of constant quick money flow, but there will be times when a quality quick pay freight broker does not have freight available where your truck is, this is when you will need to do business with freight factoring companies. On average for a small trucking company business they are going to charge you 4-5% of the total invoice for pay on the same day that they receive the originals.

There are two types of factoring, recourse and non-recourse. To qualify for a recourse deal you will have to have stellar credit and/or do millions in sales as this means that if a customer fails to pay that you will owe any money previously paid out to you on that load back to the factoring company. It does not matter why the customer did not pay just know that the factoring company will take their money back in full immediately.

For non-recourse freight factoring you need to understand that each load does not stand alone as a separate business deal like it legally should in my opinion. Whenever you get paid for loads you have factored if at any time the customer on the load refuses payment on that load to the factoring company they will withhold money from completely different customers to cover those lost funds. In my experience of dealing with 3 different freight factoring companies they also will not have the class to call you and alert you to the situation.

Instead you are expecting much needed money and it simply never shows up. They also will not work with you to ensure you have funds available to operate. They take all funds that they claim you owe them as soon as it’s available. It’s all just a fancy advertising scheme to draw you into their web of lies and deceit. So tread carefully when dealing with them and have the understanding that they are out for themselves and not you, use them sparingly and protect yourself by having legal representation on retainer.

Do you know who does care about your businesses well being and success? That’s right Express2290. Be sure to visit them and see how they can make your life easier by handling all of your 2290 needs.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Getting Familiar With The Setup Process With Freight Brokers

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Featured Blogger
Benjamin Bellville
Today I would like to point out some key things to look for in the setup process with freight brokers. This of course being when you will have to fill out an information packet and fax it back to a broker before they will allow you to haul their freight. I’m going to talk about the type of information you will receive from them and it’s relevance, the information and forms you will need to send back to them and the little things you should look for in the packet that if not followed correctly may cost you a bundle.

What type of info will a freight broker include about themselves?

With every freight broker setup packet you will receive many pages of information about that broker. These are not pages that you need to send back, but they are pages that you should save and staple together with the finished packet after you have faxed back what was required. This information at a minimum will include the following:

   1. All of the freight brokers contact information.
   2. Their freight brokers authority page (MC#)
   3. Their Insurance carrier information.
   4. The brokers surety bond.
   5. A reference page. (showing companies they have brokered freight to)

This is all information that you could find out just by knowing their MC#, but it’s just easier to have it on hand should they decide to stiff you on a payment and you need to make a claim against them.

What type of info will they require from me?

This is going to depend on the freight broker you are dealing with,some have very short packets (you will be thankful when you get that lucky!) and some will expect you to fill out an encyclopedia worth of what is sometimes pointless it would seem. following are the main things you will be asked to return every time guaranteed.

   1. A copy of your authority (MC#)
   2. Copy of your insurance.
   3. A current W-9.
   4. A carrier profile page.
   5. The contract with each page initialed and dated as well as properly signed.

For this reason it would be a great idea to have copies of the first 3 on your computer easily accessible if you are using an email fax server. After you have seen a few carrier profile pages it would also be a good idea to make one of your own as every now and then you will come across a broker who wants one, but fails to send you a form.

Things to look for in the setup process with freight brokers!

Some of this information will also be included in fine print on the load rate confirmation, which is the actual contract that a freight broker and trucking company enter into on a load by load basis. What you want to watch for is their policies that need to be followed that in many cases if not followed will garner a fine for your company. These may include the following stipulations:

   1. Fines for not being on time to a pickup or delivery.
   2. Fines for being reported as being uncooperative with their customers.
   3. Fines for damaged freight.
   4. Fines for not contacting them with load movement updates on their schedule.
   5. Payment information pertaining to what they will or won’t cover for things such as tolls, lumper fees,detention and layover.

Once you get the hang of the things to look for it’s best to just ask the broker any questions you may have about these things before you have them fax you a setup pack. Their will be some brokers who are too demanding and who are sticklers for all fines they say may be levied against you regardless of the circumstances. It’s a learning process every time you do business with a new broker, but if you pay attention to details you should have no problem at all.

Now that you’ve learned all about the setup process with freight brokers go on over and check out how easy the folks here at Express 2290 can make filing for your Heavy Vehicle Use Taxes which are required to be paid and proof shown before you can get your I.R.P.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

Introduction To Dealing With Freight Brokers

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Featured Blogger
Benjamin Bellville
Dealing with freight brokers as I covered in previous posts is an integral part of the freight logistics process, perhaps the most important if you will be getting the majority of your freight from freight load boards. This job goes hand in hand with customer relations and building your trucking companies image. In this introduction to dealing with freight brokers I will go over the basic attitude and approach you should have when booking a load.

When you make a call on a load that you find on a freight load board you will be entering into what is a business negotiation. Remember it is your business you do not have to agree to anything you feel is not in the best interest of your company. This is not a time to be weak, nor is it a time to be unreasonable. In every business deal there exists what I call the “Sweet Spot” of a deal. This is the spot where everyone involved makes their fair share of the money out there to be made on a load.

One of the main problems in this industry is that not many freight brokers or trucking companies believe in this theory,instead everyone is out to take the other side for every penny they can get. This more than anything is what creates the freight rate volatility that is synonymous with the trucking industry. Contrary to what you may have heard there are plenty of fair freight brokers out there to do business with.

When you are negotiating be upfront with the broker and let them know exactly what you need payed to haul the load for them (DO NOT just ask them what it pays, you start the bidding!) Just like in any negotiation start a little higher than what you could really do the load for, but be realistic. If you call and demand $3 a mile for every load you haul you will find yourself sitting around and going broke very quickly, it’s just not going to happen. Be willing to bend a little if you feel it is someone who you would want to do business with in the future.

You would be surprised that loyalty still does exist in the trucking industry though it is harder to find these days. By being flexible and respectful of good brokers you may eventually get on their go to list. This is when they will start calling you out of the blue to offer you their best paying freight because they know you are reliable and dependable and have done great work for them in the past. No one is going to just start feeding a new company the best freight they have as those are their more important customers that they need to be sure are serviced to the utmost standards. It took me in some cases 10-15 on time non damaged loads before I started getting higher paying freight more frequently with certain brokers.

Finally if a deal can’t be reached it’s important to remember that you may still be dealing with that particular freight broker again in the future. Make sure they remember you by always stating your name and your company name clearly. Be genuine and say things such as, "Sorry we could not reach a deal on this one, maybe we’ll get together in the future." Because of using this approach I could go into my broker list and call any of them and to this day they would remember me, this is what you want to achieve.

Remember any part of a great business game plan includes doing business with people who have your success in mind, be sure to visit Express2290 and find out why they are the premier excise tax service around and what they can offer your company.
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