It's the time of year to file your heavy vehicle use tax (HVUT) for 2019-2020. HVUT is for trucks and buses used on the highway with a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. Any vehicles registered in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico are subject to the tax.
The tax is not new, but the details can present challenges for motor carriers.
The tax year for HVUT starts on July 1 and goes through June 30 of the next year. The tax applies to vehicles that are required to be registered in your name and that are used on a public highway at the start of the tax year. For vehicles you have registered and in operation in July 2019, you must file and pay the tax by the last day of the month following the month the vehicle was used in the tax year, which in this case is August 31, 2019. This year's due date is actually September 3, 2019, because August 31 is a Saturday and the weekday is a holiday. September 3 is the next business day.
How is the tax determined?
The HVUT is based on the weight of the vehicle, not mileage driven. Tax on a 55,000-pound vehicle starts at $100 and increases by $22 per 1,000 pounds over 55,000 pounds, so a 60,000-lb vehicle would cost $210. Note that all vehicles 75,000 pounds and over max out at $550 in taxes.
Watch your miles
If you expect to operate your vehicle 5,000 miles or less during the reporting period - or 7,500 miles or less for agricultural vehicles - no tax payment is required. However, you still must file a Form 2290 and Schedule 1.
The 5,000/7,500 threshold is revisited if a carrier ends up operating more during the year, depending on the miles accumulated. If a carrier operates a vehicle on which a suspension was claimed beyond the 5,000/7,500 miles threshold, the carrier must file an amendment and pay the tax.
Many HVUT filers are unaware that they may be subject to additional HVUT filings throughout the year, especially if operations change or taxable vehicles are added to the fleet.
A carrier must also pay the tax when a new taxable vehicle is purchased, registered in the carrier's name, and used on a public roadway. For example, if a carrier bought a taxable vehicle in March 2020 and used it on the road that month, you must pay a partial tax on the vehicle due by April 30, 2020, to cover use on the road through June 30.
Potential for credit
Many people also might not realize that credits and refunds are available in certain circumstances, and these credits and refunds can help reduce tax liability.
Knowing the ins and outs of the HVUT can help ensure you're paying what you're supposed to while also ensuring you're not overpaying.
Medical information cannot be shared
Employee medical information cannot be shared with anyone who does not have a business-related need to know. Even supervisors do not need to know the details of their employees' medical conditions.
If an employee was injured, for example, a supervisor might need to know the employee's restrictions, but does not need to know the specifics of why those restrictions are necessary.
The requirement to keep medical information confidential comes not from OSHA or HIPAA (which governs health insurance), but from the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. The reason is that knowledge of a medical condition might tend to reveal a disability - such as hearing loss (an individual need not be totally deaf to qualify as "disabled" in hearing).
According to the ADA regulation at 29 CFR 1630.14, information about employee medical conditions must be maintained on separate forms, stored in separate files from other records (separate from personnel or safety records), and must be kept confidential. The only permissible disclosures are that:
- Supervisors and managers may be informed of restrictions on the work or duties of the employee, or of any necessary accommodations;
- First aid and safety personnel may be informed if the disability might require emergency treatment; and
- Government officials may be provided relevant information on request.
Note that information about restrictions may need to be shared, but the actual details of the condition should not be disclosed.
As a safety manager, you may have access to employees' medical information. This information might come from sources like:
- A Form 301 or workers' compensation injury report (or any follow-up information regarding treatment for the injury);
- Results of annual audiometric tests under a hearing conservation program;
- Results of blood tests for biological monitoring (such as exposure to lead); or
- Personal (non-work-related) medical conditions that impact the job because the employee has restrictions.
In some cases, the fact that an employee experienced a medical issue may become known, but details should not be shared. For example, if an employee's annual audiogram under a hearing conservation program revealed a standard threshold shift hearing loss, the employee must be refitted and retrained in the use of hearing protectors.
The employee's supervisor may need to be told about the fitting and training, but does not need to know the details of the audiogram or the extent of the hearing loss.