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5 steps to HVUT filing

Annual filing is due by August 31, 2021

Posted July 16, 2021 

On the operations-side of running a motor carrier, making sure you file the appropriate taxes on your vehicles is key to keeping your fleet in compliance. One of those taxes is the United States federal heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT). The HVUT tax year is about to begin on July 1, 2021. Taxes for 2021–2022 are due by August 31, 2021.

Who must register?

The HVUT must be filed by motor carriers operating vehicles that have a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. To register, Form 2290 must be submitted to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The following five steps can make quick work of filing your returns.

  1. Obtain an EIN

    Any carrier, including an owner-operator, must have an employer identification number (EIN) to file Form 2290. Using a personal social security number is not allowed. If you or your company don’t have an EIN, you can apply for one online at

  2. Report vehicles subject to the tax

    Vehicles with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more (including trucks, tractors, and buses) being used on a public roadway are subject to the HVUT tax. The tax applies to both interstate and intrastate operations.

    Note: Canada- and Mexico-based carriers might be surprised to learn they are also responsible for paying HVUT for taxable vehicles operated in the United States.

  3. Suspend the tax (if qualified)

    If you believe that you’ll operate your taxable vehicle 5,000 miles or less during the tax year (7,500 miles for agricultural vehicles), you can claim a suspension of tax. You’re still required to file Form 2290, but no tax payment is required for qualified vehicles.

  4. Know your due date

    Carriers are required to file by August 31 each year when the new tax year begins. However, you must also know the rules around when an addition filing is needed if a vehicle is added to you fleet mid-year.

    Form 2290 must be submitted by the end of the month following the month the vehicle was first operated on a public highway. For example, if the vehicle was first operated on a public highway during October, Form 2290 must be filed by November 30. Since the vehicle will only be in service for a portion of the tax year, the fee is prorated for the current tax year, and you would pay the full tax on the vehicle the following tax year.

  5. File electronically
  6. Carriers filing a return for 25 or more vehicles are required to use the IRS e-file program. However, any carrier can — and is encouraged by the IRS — to file electronically. The benefit to e-filing is that the stamped Schedule 1 can be available within minutes of the IRS accepting your return.

    And why is that paid receipt so important? The stamped Schedule 1 becomes your proof of tax payment for the vehicles listed. This proof of payment is required before you can register vehicles with a state’s motor vehicle office.

    This article was written by Michel Henckel of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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