Form 2290 - Taxable Vehicles

Highway motor vehicles that have a taxable gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more are taxable.

A highway motor vehicle includes any self-propelled vehicle designed to carry a load over public highways, whether or not also designed to perform other functions. Examples of vehicles that are designed to carry a load over public highways include trucks, truck tractors, and buses. Generally, vans, pickup trucks, panel trucks, and similar trucks aren't subject to this tax because they have a taxable gross weight less than 55,000 pounds.

A vehicle consists of a chassis, or a chassis and body, but doesn't include the load. It doesn't matter if the vehicle is designed to perform a highway transportation function for only a particular type of load, such as passengers, furnishings, and personal effects (as in a house, office, or utility trailer), or a special kind of cargo, goods, supplies, or materials. It doesn't matter if machinery or equipment is specially designed (and permanently mounted) to perform some off-highway task unrelated to highway transportation except to the extent discussed later under Vehicles not considered highway motor vehicles.

Use means the use of a vehicle with power from its own motor on any public highway in the United States.

A public highway is any road in the United States that isn't a private roadway. This includes federal, state, county, and city roads.

Example. You purchased your heavy truck from the dealer and drove it over the public highways to your home. The drive home was your first taxable use of the vehicle.

Exemptions. The use of certain highway motor vehicles is exempt from the tax (and thus not required to be reported on a Form 2290) if certain requirements are met. The use of a highway motor vehicle isn't subject to the tax if it is used and actually operated by:

  • The Federal Government;
  • The District of Columbia;
  • A state or local government;
  • The American National Red Cross;
  • A nonprofit volunteer fire department, ambulance association, or rescue squad;
  • An Indian tribal government but only if the vehicle's use involves the exercise of an essential tribal government function; or
  • A mass transportation authority if it is created under a statute that gives it certain powers normally exercised by the state.
    Also exempt from tax (and thus not required to be reported on a Form 2290) is the use of:
  • Qualified blood collector vehicles (see below) used by qualified blood collector organizations; and
  • Mobile machinery that meets the specifications for a chassis as described under Specially designed mobile machinery for nontransportation functions, later.

Vehicles not considered highway motor vehicles.

Generally, the following kinds of vehicles aren't considered highway vehicles.

  1. Specially designed mobile machinery for nontransportation functions. A self-propelled vehicle isn't a highway vehicle if all the following apply.

    • The chassis has permanently mounted to it machinery or equipment used to perform certain operations (construction, manufacturing, drilling, mining, timbering, processing, farming, or similar operations) if the operation of the machinery or equipment is unrelated to transportation on or off the public highways.

    • The chassis has been specially designed to serve only as a mobile carriage and mount (and power source, if applicable) for the machinery or equipment, whether or not the machinery or equipment is in operation.

    • The chassis couldn't, because of its special design and without substantial structural modification, be used as part of a vehicle designed to carry any other load.

  2. Vehicles specially designed for off-highway transportation. A vehicle isn't treated as a highway vehicle if the vehicle is specially designed for the primary function of transporting a particular type of load other than over the public highway and because of this special design, the vehicle's capability to transport a load over a public highway is substantially limited or impaired.

    To make this determination, you can take into account the vehicle's size; whether the vehicle is subject to licensing, safety, or other requirements; and whether the vehicle can transport a load at a sustained speed of at least 25 miles per hour. It doesn't matter that the vehicle can carry heavier loads off highway than it is allowed to carry over the highway.

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