Taxes for Truckers: Different Types of Commercial Truck Taxes

April 5, 2021
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Working as a commercial trucker can be difficult. It can be confusing to keep track of deadlines, distance, and hours logged right around the tax season.

While you may focus only on transportation, tax time is almost here. If you’re trying to determine the types of commercial truck taxes you may pay, here’s what you should know.

What’s Considered a Commercial Truck?

Commercial trucks cover a wide range of commercial vehicles, arranged by their gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR). There are three classes of commercial trucks, organized into eight classes: 

  • Light-duty 
  • Medium-duty
  • Heavy-duty

Light-duty trucks include class 1, class 2, and class 3 of commercial trucks:

  • Class 1: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 0-6,000 pounds. 
  • Class 2: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 6,001-10,000 pounds.
  • Class 3: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 10,001-14,000 pounds.

Medium duty trucks include class 4, class 5, and class 6 of commercial trucks:

  • Class 4: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 14,401-16,000 pounds.
  • Class 5: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 16,001-19,500 pounds.
  • Class 6: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 19,501-26,000 pounds.

Heavy-duty trucks include class 7 and class 8 of commercial trucks:

  • Class 7: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 26,001 to 33,000 pounds.
  • Class 8: Trucks in this class have a GVWR of 33,001 pounds or more.

What Taxes Do Commercial Truckers Pay?

Commercial truckers pay several taxes according to federal and state requirements. Some of the most common taxes for commercial truckers are: 

  • Estimated tax
  • Excise tax 
  • Federal income tax
  • Heavy Vehicle Usage tax
  • Self-employment tax
  • State income tax

It’s possible to use tax deductions to decrease the amount you’ll pay.

Federal Excise Tax

The federal excise tax is one that truckers may pay for their work. It is a tax that the government can impose for: 

  • Import 
  • Sale by the manufacturer
  • Sale by the retailer 
  • Use by the consumer or manufacturer

Federal excise taxes are always due on a quarterly basis.

When Do You Pay?

If you file federal excise taxes, you’ll pay quarterly, according to these deadlines:

  • Quarter 1 (from January through March) has a deadline of April 30. 
  • Quarter 2 (from April through June) has a deadline of July 31. 
  • Quarter 3 (from July through September) has a deadline of October 31. 
  • Quarter 4 (from October through December) has a deadline of January 31.

If your due date for federal excise tax falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holidays, the due date will be the next business day.

How Much Do You Pay?

To determine the amount of excise tax you’ll pay, you’ll use Form 720. It consists of three parts and various taxes for you to complete where applicable:

Part 1 

  • Communication and Air Transportation Taxes 
  • Environmental Taxes 
  • Foreign Fuel Taxes 
  • Foreign Insurance Taxes
  • Manufacturers Taxes
  • Other Excise Tax
  • Retail Tax 
  • Ship Passenger Tax

Part II

  • Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Fee 
  • Floor Stocks Tax

At the end of Part I and Part II, you’ll total each at the last line of the section. 

Part III

You’ll determine the amount of excise tax you’ll pay in Part III of Form 720 by:

  • Totaling the tax from Part I and Part II, on line 3
  • Entering claims, from Schedule C, on line 4
  • Entering deposits made for the quarter, on line 5
  • Entering overpayment from previous quarters, on line 6
  • Entering amount from line 6 of Form 720-X on line 7 (if any)
  • Adding lines 5 and 6; you’ll write this on line 8
  • Adding lines 4 and 8; you’ll write this on line 9

Line 10 of Part III will provide the amount of the amount that’s due. You’ll pay the total amount with your Form 720.

Finally, if you overpaid, you’ll choose whether you want the difference applied to your next return or refunded to you.

Heavy Vehicle Use Tax

A second tax you’ll pay as a trucker is the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax. You’ll use Form 2290 to file and pay the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.  

While the form to determine your excise tax amount doesn’t have additional requirements, the heavy vehicle use tax form does. You must already have an employer identification number (EIN) to file Form 2290. 

When Do You Pay?

The heavy vehicle use tax has a filing season from July 1 through June 30. If you used your truck during any of these months, you’d have until the end of the following month to file and make your payment. 

Heavy Vehicle Use Taxes have an alternating deadline, depending on when you’ve used your vehicle. For example, if you’ve driven your truck in August, you’ll have until September 30 to file Form 2290 and pay taxes.

How Much Do You Pay?

To determine the amount of heavy vehicle use tax you’ll pay, you’ll use Form 2290. You’ll go to the second page, where there are four columns. 

If you only used your truck in July, Column (1), Annual tax, is already completed. Columns (2) to (4) will require additional information. 

For these columns, you’ll provide: 

  • Partial-period tax (for vehicle use after July) in column 2: You’ll provide information in section (2)(a), Vehicles except logging, and (2)(b), Logging Vehicles
  • Number of vehicles in column 3: You’ll provide information in sections (3)(a), Vehicles except logging, and (3)(b), Logging Vehicles

After you complete columns (2) and (3), you’ll proceed to column (4). This is where you’ll multiply the numbers from column (1) or column (2) by the numbers in column (3).

You’ll enter the amount from the Totals section near the bottom of the page. 

After figuring out the total, you’ll return to the first page. On line 2 of Part 1. You’ll enter the Total from column (4) on page 2. Then, you’ll: 

  • Add any national tax from an increase in taxable gross weight on line 3.
  • Determine the total tax on line 4
  • Enter any credits, if applicable, on line 5

Line 6 is where you’ll determine the balance due. You’ll subtract the total on line 5 from the total on line 4 to determine the amount.

Commercial Truck Taxes Simplified

Commercial truck taxes require quite a few details to figure out. The details may be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. As a trucker, you can focus on your day-to-day responsibilities and turn to the pros for a stress-free tax season. Work with the professionals at 1-800Accountant for your commercial truck tax needs.

This post is to be used for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, business, or tax advice. Each person should consult his or her own attorney, business advisor, or tax advisor with respect to matters referenced in this post. 1-800Accountant assumes no liability for actions taken in reliance upon the information contained herein.