Penalties for HVUT non-compliance are costly to motor carriers. The penalty for failing to file IRS Form 2290 by August 30th is equal to 4.5 percent of total tax due, assessed on a monthly basis up to five months. Late filers not making an HVUT payment also face an additional monthly penalty equal to 0.5 percent of total tax due. Additional interest charges of 0.54 percent per month accrue as well.
Based on these rates, an HVUT liability that was originally $550 would climb to over $700 by the end of the five-month period of delinquency. In addition to these federal penalties, many states suspend the registrations of vehicles for which proof of HVUT payment has not been provided.
HVUT evasion penalties can be even more significant, resulting in fines and incarceration, as illustrated in the case of one owner of a small trucking company who was found guilty of HVUT evasion through the continuous re-titling of his vehicle. This case is highlighted on the HVUT Evasion Cases page. For his crime, the owner of the small trucking company was sentenced to serve four months in prison and an additional four months of electronically monitored home confinement. He was also ordered to pay a $2,000 fine.
Penalties for HVUT non-compliance for states are even more costly. The Secretary of Transportation has the authority to withhold up to 25 percent of the state's Interstate Maintenance funds [23 U.S.C. 104(b)(5)] if it fails one of its periodic compliance reviews. In fiscal year 2008, SAFETEA-LU authorized $5.2 billion in contract authority to states for the Interstate Maintenance Program. Thus, it is imperative that states comply with the HVUT requirement.
When an examiner detects non-compliance, any findings should be presented to management in the FHWA division office. Based on the assessment performed by FHWA division management, the matter may need to be brought to the attention of the U.S. DOT Office of Inspector General (OIG). If the OIG launches an investigation, the compliance review report will be delayed because information presented within it could be used as evidence during the criminal investigation.
Once all criminal investigations and prosecutions are complete, a finding of non-compliance may be made public. The procedures for dealing with a finding of non-compliance are detailed in 23 CFR 369.12-369.17. In the event that a state is found to be in non-compliance, the following procedures are followed:
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