Form 2290: Highway Use Tax Return is Now Due on November 30, 2011

On July 15, 2011, the IRS advised truckers and other owners of heavy highway vehicles that their next federal highway use tax return (which is usually due on August 31) will instead be due on November 30, 2011.  IRS Notice 2011-77 explains that the main reason for the extension of the deadline is to alleviate any confusion and possible multiple filings of Form 2290 that could result if Congress reinstates or modifies the  highway use tax after September 30, 2011.

Generally, the highway use tax of up to $550 per vehicle applies to trucks, truck tractors and buses with a gross taxable weight of 55,000 pounds or more. A variety of special rules apply to vehicles with minimal road use, logging or agricultural vehicles, vehicles transferred during the year and those first used on the road after July. Ordinarily, vans, pick-ups and panel trucks are not taxable because they fall below the 55,000-pound threshold. The tax is currently set to expire on September 30, 2011.  For trucks and other taxable vehicles in use during July, the Form 2290 and payment are, under normal circumstances, due on August 31.

The new November 30 filing deadline for Form 2290 (Heavy Highway Vehicle Use Tax Return) applies to the tax period that begins on July 1, 2011. It covers the vehicles used during July, as well as those first used during August or September. Returns should not be filed and payments should not be made prior to November 1, 2011.

To aid truckers applying for state vehicle registration on or before November 30, 2011, the new regulations require states to accept as proof of payment the stamped Schedule 1 of the Form 2290 issued by the IRS for the prior tax year (the one that ended on June 30, 2011). Under federal law, state governments are required to receive proof of payment of the federal highway use tax as a condition of vehicle registration. Normally, after a taxpayer files the return and pays the tax, the Schedule 1 is stamped by the IRS and returned to filers for this purpose. Prior to the new regulations, a state normally would accept a prior year’s stamped Schedule 1 as a substitute proof of payment only through September 30.

For those acquiring and registering a new or used vehicle during the July – November period, the new regulations require a state to register the vehicle, without proof that the highway use tax was paid, if the person registering the vehicle presents a copy of the bill of sale or similar document showing that the owner purchased the vehicle within the previous 150 days.