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Fuel Taxes Frequently Asked Questions

Have fuel tax questions? Get a basic overview of your IFTA requirements – including who needs to file and how to document fuel tax purchases – in the frequently asked questions below. If you’d like to learn more about how Foley can help you manage your fuel tax data and preparation, please click here.


What’s IFTA?
The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is a cooperative effort of the lower 48 states and 10 Canadian provinces to simplify fuel tax reporting and payment. Under the agreement, motor carriers register and file with their base jurisdiction, which makes the appropriate financial adjustments and distributes tax monies to the proper jurisdictions.

Who Must Register for IFTA?
Motor carriers who operate an IFTA-qualified motor vehicle in commerce must participate in IFTA. A qualified motor vehicle is one used, designed or maintained to transport property or persons that is:

  • Three or more axles regardless of weight, or
  • Two axles with a gross vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds; or
  • Used in combination with a total gross vehicle weight over 26,000 pounds
  • I am only registered as Intrastate. Do I still have to register with IFTA and do the quarterly filings?
  • No. However, you should check to see if your state has a fuel tax license requirement.

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How do I get registered with IFTA?
Foley can help you obtain the forms you need to apply for your IFTA license and vehicle decals. You will need to complete this form and submit it, along with any fees, to your IFTA jurisdiction office. The annual license, which is valid for the calendar year, expires on December 31.

Which states do I register with?
You only need to register with one state — your base jurisdiction. Under IFTA, a motor carrier’s base jurisdiction is the state or province:

  • Where its qualified motor vehicles are registered
  • Where it maintains operational control and operational records of its qualified vehicles, and
  • That qualified motor vehicles travel in
  • Do most people register to be able to travel in every state?
  • There is no need to register with multiple states. Your IFTA Fuel Tax license authorizes your vehicles to travel in all member jurisdictions.

Am I required to renew my IFTA license?
Motor carriers who operate IFTA-qualified vehicles must meet annual licensing requirements. The IFTA license must be renewed each year.

Where should I keep my IFTA license?
The original copy of the license must be stored in the office along with business records, and copies must be kept in all IFTA-qualified vehicles. Motor carriers must also display IFTA decals on both sides of a vehicle’s cab.

Do I need to keep proof of IFTA registration in my vehicle?
Yes. You will need to keep copies of your current IFTA license in all IFTA-qualified vehicles. You are also required to display IFTA decals on both sides of the vehicle’s cab.

I’ve registered with IFTA. How often must I file tax reports?
In most jurisdictions, motor carriers are required to file fuel tax returns with their IFTA jurisdiction office each quarter. To avoid penalties, IFTA returns, along with any payment for taxes due, must be postmarked on or before the deadlines listed below:

  • Quarter 1: April 30
  • Quarter 2: July 31
  • Quarter 3: October 31
  • Quarter 4: January 31

You must file a return even when no miles were traveled or no taxable fuel was used during the quarter.

I did not leave my home state this quarter, do I still have to file?
Yes. You must file a completed IFTA return each quarter. Under the International Fuel Tax Agreement, you are required to file a tax return if you do not travel in any IFTA member jurisdictions or purchase any taxable fuel during the quarter.

How do I collect the mileage and fuel purchase information I need to complete my quarterly return?
IFTA license holder, you are responsible for maintaining detailed distance and fuel purchase records for all qualified motor vehicles. Specifically, you must prepare:

  • Detailed Trip Reports
  • Monthly Fleet Summaries
    You must retain your IFTA tax return, along with the supporting documentation listed above, for four years from the applicable due date.

What must be included in an IFTA Trip Report?
IFTA Trip Reports must include:

  • Date of trip (Start and End)
  • Trip origin and destination
  • Routes of travel
  • Beginning and ending odometer reading
  • Total trip distance
  • Distance by jurisdiction
  • Vehicle Identification Number
  • Vehicle Fleet Number
  • Registrant’s Name

How do I document fuel purchases?
You must collect and retain detailed fuel receipts and/or invoices. This proof of purchase must include date of the purchase, the seller’s name and address, number of gallons purchased, fuel type purchased, price per gallon, unit numbers of vehicle and purchaser’s name.

My vehicle is over 26,000 pounds. Do I have to register with IFTA?
No. You may opt to purchase temporary fuel trip permits, which allow a qualified vehicle without an IFTA license to travel through a state. These temporary permits vary by length and price and may be purchased from the state, select truck stops and permit services. As this approach is extremely costly, most operators of IFTA-qualified vehicles choose to get an IFTA license and file quarterly fuel tax returns.

What happens if I don’t have a current IFTA license or required Temporary Fuel Permit?
Expect delays—and possible penalties. We’ve heard frequent reports of drivers being placed out-of-service for IFTA violations. There are also steep fines, which vary by state, for failing to pay fuel tax. California law, for example, calls for a mandatory penalty of 25 percent of the tax due or $500, whichever is greater. You must pay the penalty, tax and interest to prevent the vehicle from being seized.

Where can I get help with meeting my IFTA requirements?
Foley offers affordable programs to help motor carriers meet their IFTA quarterly reporting obligations. All you need to do is submit completed trip and fuel purchase data, and we’ll prepare your quarterly IFTA return. Daily Driver Trip Reports and/or Monthly Tally Sheets and five years of electronic record retention are included in the programs. Please call 1-800-253-5506, ext. 0869 for more information.

What states require a highway use tax?
The following states require certain commercial motor vehicles traveling through their states to pay a highway use tax:

  • New York has a Highway Use Tax (HUT) for vehicles over 18,000 pounds
  • Kentucky requires a Highway Use License (KYU) for vehicles with a gross weight of 60,000 pounds or more
  • New Mexico has a Weight Distance Tax for vehicles over 26,000 pounds
  • Oregon has a Highway Use Tax for vehicles over 26,000 pounds

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