ExpressIFTA Blog

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Is IFTA?

If you are in the trucking industry you might have been asked at one point or another - What is IFTA? It's not the easiest question to answer. There are a lot of different parts to go over when explaining IFTA and how it works. So to get you prepared and ready to answer this question, or if you are wondering yourself what IFTA is, I'm going to go over ever little IFTA bit. By the end of this blog you will be an IFTA expert.

Introduction To IFTA: The Basics
IFTA is the International Fuel Tax Agreement that allows you to travel in all participating member jurisdictions with a single fuel tax license. To operate in two or more member jurisdictions, you are required to have an IFTA license and decals on your vehicle. You receive your IFTA license through your base jurisdiction and you are given decals to put on your truck. Your IFTA license needs to be renewed annually in December. When you hold an IFTA license, you are required to a file quarterly return that calculates how much fuel tax you owe (or are credited) to remain compliant. 

Qualified Motor Vehicle
To be considered an IFTA Qualified Motor Vehicle, your vehicle must meet a few requirements. The basic requirement is that it is designed, maintained, and/or used to transport people or property. Then there are more specific requirements to meet:
  • Has two axles and gross vehicle weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds or
  • Has two axles and a registered weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds or
  • Has three or more axles or
  • Has a combination weight that exceeds 26,000 pounds
Recreational vehicles are the only vehicles exempt from reporting IFTA. 

Base Jurisdiction
As mentioned in the Introduction to IFTA: The Basics, a base jurisdiction is the state where:
  • Your qualified motor vehicle(s) are registered
  • Operational control and records of the licensee's qualified motor vehicle(s) are maintained and available for auditing purposes
  • Some mileage is accrued by your qualified motor vehicle(s) within a fleet of vehicles that travel through that jurisdiction. 
Basically, your base jurisdiction is the state your truck is registered in.

IFTA Quarterly Filing
Every quarter you will file a return that reports three months of miles. It is a simple trip sheet layout and you simply plug in the state and number of miles driven. You can complete your IFTA Quarterly return right here through ExpressIFTA.com. When e-filing your IFTA return you will need the following information:
  • Total mileage traveled through each member jurisdiction
  • Your fuel receipts to enter amount of fuel purchased in each member jurisdiction. You will need to keep a record of all your fuel receipts in case you are audited. 
It's a lot of IFTA information to take in, but I told you, you will be an IFTA expert. If you deal with IFTA filing and license renewal all on your own and just don't want the hassle anymore, there is a wonderful processing agency that specialized in all things IFTA and everything else dealing with trucking permits to authorities - Truck Services of North America. They can take care of everything for your, all over the phone. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top 10 Winter Driving Tips for Truckers

How is the winter season panning out for you, truckers? Well I will tell you it's downright cold! I'm here in Rock Hill, South Carolina so I know I'm not experiencing "real cold", but it's cold nonetheless. The ExpressIFTA team is enduring a little ice storm here in South Carolina (nothing major, it melted by noon) and I had a realization - I haven't written any Winter Driving Tips. Here are the top tips from truckers all across the nation for driving in winter weather and staying safe...

1. Increase Your Distance From Other Drivers
This is an oldie, but goodie. When roads get bad, traffic tends to bunch up and four-wheelers get real brake happy. It is best to stay as far away from other drivers as possible.

2. Know When To Get Off The Roadway
As a professional driver, you know the warning signs of a bad roadway; spun out cars, low visibility, white out conditions, etc. Most drivers say the main warning sign of a bad road is when you see trucks spun out. When you see this or your gut is telling you the road isn't safe, it is probably time to get off the roadway.

3. A Load Is Not Worth Your Life
When conditions are dangerous and you get the sinking feeling in your gut that is telling you to find a safe place to pull over and chill out for a bit, it is a good idea to do so. No load is worth your life. Find safe parking, out of the way of other drivers, and try not to park on an incline. Parking on an incline is a quick way to find yourself stuck.

4. Keep A Good Stock Of Supplies
A winter emergency kit is something every trucker should have. If you get spun out, diesel gels, or who knows what, a winter emergency kit will hold you over until help arrives. You want to have extra blankets, protein bars (or other sustainable food that will provide nutrients), and water. Those heat packs or a personal portable heater is also great items to include. 

5. Don't Let Your Diesel Gel
If you drive through places where the temperature gets below freezing, you are probably well aware of the hazard of diesel getting to cold and turning to gel. An anti-gel additive is all you need to keep this problem from happening. It is also a great idea to keep a good stock of anti-gel additive just in case. The truck stop will most likely be out of it when you need it. 

6. Know When There Is Ice On The Road
Weather reports can't always be trusted, so if you are about to head out on the road and there is ice on your windshield, then there is ice on the road. Any amount of ice on the road is dangerous and the danger only escalates for truckers. 

7. Know The Temperature
Water will start to freeze at 32 degrees, so when you are driving in extremely low temperatures, you need to be wary.  When your diesel reaches a low enough temperature wax crystals will start to form and cause the fuel to gel.

8. Be Able To Tell If Roads Are Wet Or Icy
You can tell if roads are wet when spray is coming off the tires of the other cars. If there is no spray, but the roads are wet looking, then it is most likely ice. 

9. When It's Icy, Turn The Jake Off
When it is icy you will need braking on all your axles, not just the drives. So it is important to turn the Jake off and slow it down. 

10. Keep The Communication Lines Open
Truckers know road conditions. If you are a new driver and feeling a bit nervous, talk to a vet and get some advice. A seasoned driver will know just what to say to help keep you calm and get through it.

Driving in winter weather is sometimes inevitable. Here in the South, it's not a common occurrence, but it's good to have the knowledge just in case. Trust your instincts and stay safe out there Trucking Nation. Remember, spring isn't too far away. 

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Trucker Hacks: Dealing With A Bad Day

It's past the 4th Quarter IFTA deadline and the crew here at ExpressIFTA have been putting together some interesting hacks provided from truckers all across the nation on how to deal with certain situations that make a bad day.

Sometimes the powers of the universe unite and rain down a whole lot of awful on a seemingly lovely day. A bad day always begins with something small and then, all of the sudden, everything starts to go wrong. For a trucker, a bad day can take quite a toll on your body and mind; especially when that bad day transforms into a bad week.

I'm here to let you know that being a trucker actually gives you an advantage to dealing with bad days; it's just how you look at the situation...

When the traffic jam caused by rubberneckers makes you late 
First, accept you will be late and take a deep breath. Then admire your surrounding instead of resenting what is happening around you. If you are one to write down your thoughts, then you could start a book of crazy things you see in a traffic jam, or create your own theory of the effects of rubberneckers; it could make you famous.

When a four-wheeler thinks it is ok to brake check you
For this one, when you feel that anger building inside you, just breathe. If breathing just isn't working and you feel like doing something rash, remind yourself that people get what they give in this world. Create a little mantra to chant, and keep truck'n my friend. Happier times are always on the road ahead.

Bad Weather
Bad weather is notorious for creating bad moods, right? You're already a little stressed because most people don't drive very intelligently around semi-trucks in bad weather, and you have to make it to the unloading dock on time only to be told you have to wait for an hour or so. It just doesn't seem like a silver lining could exist on bad weather days, but one always does. When you have to drive in bad weather, think of it as time you get to test and improve your expert driving skills. Not everyone can do what you do, especially if the weather decides to go crazy. Bad weather is your time to keep calm and give you some epic stories to exchange at the truck stop.

Something is wrong with your truck and you have to pull over and wait for the mechanic
This is a common situation in the Trucking Nation. I actually met a trucker who had a specific list of things to do when this happens to keep him in good spirits. He said this type of situation would make him madder than a hornet and he had to create something to do to keep his blood pressure down. Here is his - How To De-Stress When Waiting On The Side Of The Road List:
1. Call the wife (or someone to let them know where you are)
2. Inspect your truck and put out any needed caution signs.
3. Update your log book - it's not like you don't have the time.
4. Clean your cab - a clean cab is a happy cab
5. Learn a new craft and practice until the mechanic shows up.
                 New Craft Ideas - origami, crotchet, draw a happy tree with his happy bush friends like Bob Ross, test the trucker workouts on healthytrucker.net, take some artistic photos and start your own On The Side of The Road Scrapbook.

Basically, if you're stuck on the side of the road, you want to keep your mind busy so time just flies on by.

Dealing with a bad day as a trucker can have its challenges. But when you learn how to turn one bad situation into a positive one, your bad days will be few and far between. Remember a silver lining can always be found, you just might have to search a little more sometimes. The fastest way to turn a bad day into the best day ever is knowing how much you are appreciated for your work. Thank you truckers for everything you thanklessly do. Everyone here at ExpressIFTA truly appreciates you.


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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Trucker Survival Guide: Tax Season

Tax Season is upon us Trucking Nation. The ExpressIFTA team knows all to well that the road to tax season survival is filled with obstacles of temper flares, incorrect information, tax scams, broken calculators, and mountains of stress so tall they can block out the sun. You WILL survive these obstacles and make it through tax season with a smile on your face. This guide contains everything you need for a stress free tax season. Are you ready for Tax Survival Training?

Lesson 1 - Do Not Become A Big Rig of Stress
You might have thought that the IRS is the enemy. When you think taxes, IRS flashes in your head and you can become a big rig of stress - The IRS Is Not Your Enemy. Stress is the only enemy during tax season. It can consume you, influence you, and cause you to lose focus on your tax filing goals. If you are in danger of becoming a big rig of stress, your relaxation solution can be found in Lesson 2.

Lesson 2 - Extend Your Tax Deadline
If you are stressing out about not having enough time to file by your tax deadline - extend said tax deadline. You can extend your business tax deadline with Form 7004 and your personal tax deadline with Form 4868. It's easy, it's quick, and no explanation is necessary for why you need one. Visit our tax extension department - ExpressExtension.com to e-file an extension and receive an additional 5 to 6 months to file.

Lesson 3 - Refer To Lesson 1
More than 2 lessons would be too much like school. You do not need school to survive tax season. You are welcome.

It doesn't take much to survive tax season stress free. You will make it through this; I believe in you!

Add to your Trucker Survival Guide by reading:

IFTA Audit Preparation

The Answers To Your Tax Extension Questions - Form 7004
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