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The Fuel Taxman

It’s that time of year again…IFTA. This FLA (aka “four letter acronym”) stands for the International Fuel Tax Agreement. Nobody likes to pay taxes, but nobody likes to pay taxes when others are not paying their fair share. To that end, enforcement of fuel tax violations could be viewed as a noble cause (…maybe…), unless of course you are the cheater.  What is critical, as in all things truck enforcement, is appropriate application of IFTA law.

For the truckers, the good news is IFTA enforcement begins on March 1st, which is a Saturday, and many truck officers are off on the weekends. Come Monday March 3rd though, best be in compliance as the police will be out in force.

For those members of the ITEA, truckers and officers alike, there is a Standard of Practice (SOP-33) regarding proper enforcement of IFTA violations.  There is also a flow-chart resource document to help understand which vehicles are required to have IFTA paperwork filed with the Illinois Department of Revenue (IDOR). Both of these documents have been reviewed and approved by the appropriate regulatory agency.

Like most authorities involved in the regulation of trucks, the IDOR has its own definition of what a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is. The definition is very similar to that of a CMV which requires a CDL, but it is not exactly the same.  One glaring difference is IFTA may be required based on the registration of vehicle. IDOR also refers to them as “qualifying motor vehicles”.

This is somewhat unique to see the product of one regulatory agency being used to define the product of another. Whereas a truck registered from more than 26,000 pounds has absolutely nothing to do with CDL classification, it has everything to do with IFTA.

Another unique characteristic of IFTA is that it only applies to interstate operations.  Trucks that never leave the State of Illinois (based on operating authority) are not subject to IFTA because all their fuel tax is already being paid in Illinois. Are there cheaters out there on the border? Probably. It will be an expensive day when they are caught.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) allows applies to interstate operations, but Illinois adopted the FMCSR for intrastate operations as well.  Not so for IFTA or else local trucking businesses could be taxed twice.

A common question the Illinois Truck Enforcement Association is asked is “who is responsible for the enforcement of IFTA”?  At the end of the day, the IDOR is. However, certain regulations of IFTA are written into the Illinois Vehicle Code with no exclusive authority.  This means all police officers in Illinois have the authority to cite for IFTA violations listed in the IVC. This is not the same as the FMCSR which also resides in the IVC, but exclusive enforcement authority is granted to the Illinois State Police.

The IDOR has its own police force as well.  Agents from the IDOR investigate many tax issues, but the two main things involving trucks are IFTA and dyed diesel fuel. IFTA may be enforceable by all police officers, but dyed diesel fuel enforcement is reserved for IDOR agents.

So which violations which may be enforced by all Illinois police officers? Here is a list with brief descriptions:

625 ILCS 5/11-1419.01   |   Operating Without a Single-trip Permit Sometimes a local truck from another state must make a rare trip into Illinois, and that vehicle may qualify to pay fuel tax.  In these instances, a fuel permit can be purchased from one of many 3rd party permit services for the power unit coming into Illinois.

625 ILCS 5/11-1419.02   |   Failure to Display Motor Fuel Tax License A fuel tax license in Illinois is a full sheet of paper that must be carried in the power unit. It describes the carriers account with IDOR and year of validity.

625 ILCS 5/11-1419.03   |   Failure to Display Motor Fuel Tax Decals Motor fuel tax decals are the colorful square stickers seen on the side of trucks. Officers should use great discretion in enforcement of this violation if the stickers are in hand but not displayed, or only displayed on one side.

625 ILCS 5/11-1419.05   |   Operating With a Revoked Motor Fuel Tax License The word revoked usually means “arrest” in law enforcement, but in this case the violation is a petty offense like any other unspecified violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code. How does a police officer check the status of an IFTA account to find out if it’s revoked? The officer must have access to CVIEW or call the IDOR directly.

It’s a day of reckoning with the taxman truckers…make sure you are all paid up.

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