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Navigating the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax: Are You Exempt?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk


Navigating the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax: Are You Exempt?

James Druman
December 24, 2009

James Druman

As one of the most the most heavily taxed industries out there, truck drivers and trucking companies are always looking for a place to cut expenses, and one place to look is the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. Depending on the group you belong to or what type of vehicle you drive, there may be an exemption for which you are qualified. Let's have a look at the criteria.

What is the HVUT?

First off, if you're new to the game, the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax is an annual fee paid by large vehicles that frequently use public highways. It is paid by those operating a vehicle of 55,000 pounds or more, and the money goes towards road maintenance, engineering projects, safety programs, law enforcement, and a variety of other uses that benefit the highway system.

So it's fair to say that the tax does society a lot of good. But that doesn't mean a businessman wants to pay if it's not their legal obligation. It seems taxes aren't quite as certain as death, and there are many groups that receive special treatment from the government and are completely exempt from this specific tax.

Government Vehicles

This includes the government itself. All vehicles operated by the government, whether they are local governments, state governments, including The District of Columbia, are exempt. Even Native American tribal governments fall under this exemption. This is to allow the government to keep functioning properly and provide for society as a whole. Freedom from taxes helps to keep our society functioning.

Our Good Samaritans

Other groups that are exempt from the tax are exempt simply because they function in a way that keeps American citizens safe and sound. This includes the American Red Cross, but it also includes non-profit volunteer fire departments and rescue vehicles, such as ambulances.

Public Transportation

And the government wants to keep it as cheap as possible to provide public transportation, which in the long run keeps our roads from deteriorating as quickly because it means fewer vehicles on the road. So another exemption is provided for transportation authorities who provide the infrastructure for public transportation in our cities, states, and across the country.

Vehicle Usage

The next thing you can look at after the groups that you belong to is what kind of vehicle you drive and what it is used for. For instance, even commercial vehicles can be exempt, as long as they drive less than 5,000 miles per year, and agriculture vehicles enjoy even more leniency, receiving exemption if they travel less than 7,500 miles every year.

In addition, if a vehicle is not typically considered a highway vehicle—like heavy machinery, for example, they may not have to pay the tax. Last but not least, vehicles used to collect blood can usually be exempt, as long as they fall under the federal guidelines for an exempt-recognized organization.

Even if you are exempt from the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax, please realize that you may still have to file the proper forms with the Internal Revenue Service or at least get in touch with the local IRS office to claim your status, and you can be penalized if you fail to comply, so don't immediately assume you don't have to file.

If you want to find out more about exemptions or what you need to do to file the HVUT, whether exempt or not, go to http://www.YourTruckTax.com .

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