Posted on May 9th, 2019
If you’re in the transportation industry you’ve probably heard the acronym IFTA floating around. But what exactly is it?
As a reminder: IFTA stands for International Fuel Tax Agreement. At its simplest, it’s an agreement among the lower 48 states and most Canadian provinces to simplify fuel usage reporting by motor carriers operating in multiple jurisdictions (such as those with vehicles traveling in more than one state), requiring them to file their quarterly tax return in one state instead of all those they operate in.
However, even with IFTA being sold as a streamlined process – which it is, particularly when compared to methods prior to the agreement’s implementation – it still requires a lot of time, money and resources to complete all that’s involved, especially for interstate carriers operating large fleets. To put this in perspective, we at Aim have a team working full time all year long to ensure IFTA compliance.
Depending on a carrier’s unique situation, IFTA may not just simplify quarterly fuel tax returns; it could also save a significant amount money.
“One thing I can’t recommend enough is to speak with your tax consultant about the laws in your base jurisdiction,” said Aim Director of Licensing Will Rauber. “Depending on the equipment you’re operating and how you operate it, you could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars a year.”
Who Does IFTA Apply to?
IFTA only applies to what’s known as a ” qualified motor vehicle,” which defines a vehicle as:
- Having two axles and a gross vehicle weight or registered gross vehicle weight exceeding 26,000 pounds or 11,797 kilograms
- Having three or more axles, regardless of weight
- A vehicle that exceeds 26,000 pounds or 11,797 kilograms
And, to reiterate, this only applies to vehicles operating in multiple jurisdictions.
If you’re running only a couple of trucks, record keeping and filing under IFTA isn’t too intensive. For carriers managing large fleets, on the other hand, it can feel like quite an involved process.
To complete IFTA’s quarterly tax returns, trip reports and fuel records are required. Each component must include specific information or carriers run the risk of fines to the tune of thousands of dollars.
Trip reports must include:
- Date of trip (start/end)
- Trip origin and destination (including waypoints on the trip)
- Routes of travel
- Beginning and ending odometer or hubometer readings
- Total trip miles
- Mileage by state/province (jurisdiction breakdown)
- Unit number or vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Vehicle fleet number
- Registrant’s name
Fuel records must include:
- Date of purchase
- Seller’s name and address
- Number of gallons/liters purchased
- Fuel type
- Price per gallon or liter (or total amount of sale)
- Unit numbers
- Purchaser’s name
For carriers electing to capture distance data electronically, they must ensure their devices record everything that is required in a trip report, but it must also include latitude and longitude data points. Records showing only total distance aren’t acceptable.
So, for businesses going the electronic route for distance recordkeeping must log:
- Original GPS or other location data for the vehicle to which the records pertain;
- Data and time of each GPS or other system reading (IFTA requires that readings be at intervals sufficient to validate the total distance traveled in each jurisdiction);
- Location of each GPS or other system reading;
- Beginning and ending reading from the odometer, hubodometer, engine control module (ECM) or any similar device for the period to which the records pertain;
- Calculated distance between each GPS or other system reading;
- Route of vehicle’s travel;
- Total distance traveled by the vehicle;
- Distanced traveled in each jurisdiction; and
- Vehicle identification number or vehicle unit number.
Forgetting to include the proper documentation or information is a good way to trigger an audit. Although, as a bottom line, each year IFTA randomly audits 3% of licensed members from each jurisdiction.
Licensees can make sure they’re prepared for an audit through proper and organized recordkeeping. Auditors will need access to various pieces of information, and the last thing anyone wants is to be scrambling to put it all together at the last second, increasing the chances of human error.
Carriers can also:
- Make sure the mileage tracker (GPS, AOBRD, ELD) is recording data frequently and accurately
- Be precise when taking odometer readings; they should match trip logs
- Never have missing or inaccurate mileage or fuel data for each quarter
- Save all documentation used for IFTA tax return filings for at least six years
- Keep original driver records as auditors usually prefer to see the originals even when recording software is being utilized
In short, smart, efficient record keeping will help you avoid interest, penalties and fines in the unlikely but very possible event of an audit.
Posted on April 18th, 2019
Close to 500 people, including Aim’s Vice President of Human Resource, Patty Durkin, filled the Lake Club’s banquet room in Poland, OH, for the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley’s annual event that reflects on the prior year’s successes while setting goals for the year ahead. This year is particularly special as it marks 100 years of the organization making a difference in Youngstown, OH, and surrounding areas.
Aim, headquartered in the Mahoning Valley, is a corporate sponsor of and has been partnering with the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley for more than 20 years. This decades-long collaboration has seen Aim contributing time, resources and money to numerous community-enriching campaigns, such as participating in the Day of Caring, mentoring in the Success After 6 program, raising money during an annual employee-led fundraiser and more.
To help ring in the United Way’s centennial year in the area, the U.S. President of United Way Worldwide, Mary Sellers, was on hand to give the evening’s keynote address.
“It’s a big a deal when any organization hits a hundred years,” Sellers said, “but when you’re a venerable organization like United Way, who’s served this community for those one-hundred years, it’s really remarkable.”
Last year’s campaign raised $3,065,532, which is the third year in a row the nonprofit earned more than $3 million. Given this accomplishment, and the excitement of the 100-year anniversary, Bob Hannon, President of the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, set an ambitious goal of $3.5 million for 2019.
United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley President Bob Hannon celebrates the organization’s past, present and future as he addresses attendees at the Lake Club in Poland, OH.
“The United Way is truly an incredible organization, impacting more than 200,000 people in our community annually,” said Durkin. “I know every individual at Aim is proud of the work the United Way is doing for the area and is equally proud to be a part of their efforts.”
To reach this year’s objectives, including Mr. Hannon’s bold $3.5 million goal, United Way will need all the volunteers it can get. Aim employees can watch for communications about participating in various events throughout 2019. However, if you would like to get involved on an individual level, head over to www.ymvunitedway.org/get-involved to see what you can do to make a difference. Non-local residents can visit www.unitedway.org to find volunteering opportunities near them.
Posted on April 12th, 2019
In March, five of Aim’s finest were honored during the NationaLease 2018 Masters Club event, in tropical Aruba, for their commitment to excellence and outstanding sales performances.
“Each year, the Masters Club event recognizes the accomplishments of those sales professionals who exceed the highest threshold of performance,” said Joe Gallick, Senior Vice President of Sales for NationaLease. “Each of our Masters Club honorees exemplifies the hallmarks of successful selling including determination, self-confidence and effective communication skills.”
When you zoom out for a moment, you get a true sense of just how impressive this feat is. First off, Aim alone represented five of the 25 2018 Masters Club honorees. That’s pretty impressive. However, it’s especially impressive when you consider the scope of the entire NationaLease network: It’s one of the largest truck leasing organizations in the U.S., composed of more than 150 independent businesses (including Aim), located in more than 900 locations across the country, all with their own sales force competing for one of those 25 spots.
Aim’s 2018 Masters Club Award winners are:
- Kerry Langlois, Senior Account Executive
- Candy Paulus, Business Development Specialist
- Brian Peisker, Business Development Specialist
- Matt Svancara, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing
- Mike Wall, District Sales Manager
Pictured in the left photo, at the NationaLease 2018 Masters Club Awards event in Aruba, from left to right, are Wall, Peisker, Paulus and Svancara; In the right photo, Aim Senior Account Executive Kerry Langlois, who qualified for Masters Club but was unable to attend, is pictured between Svancara (left) and Aim Founder and CEO Tom Fleming (right) at Aim’s 2019 National Sales Meeting: Strategies for Success.
“This event gives perspective to the efforts of our talented and dedicated sales staff,” said Svancara. “As with selling any high-dollar transaction, leasing commercial vehicles and equipment isn’t easy. It takes a special kind of person to do this job, and I’m immensely proud of the Aim sales staff for what they’re able to accomplish each and every day, especially those who were honored at this year’s Masters Club event.”
Svancara, in 2017, was inducted in the Masters Club Hall of Fame after achieving Masters Club Awards for 10 consecutive years. He has been immortalized on the wall of NationaLease’s headquarters, in Downers Grove, IL, where a plaque etched with his name is permanently displayed.
“I think I speak on behalf of everyone at Aim when saying we’re all incredibly proud of the hard work put forth by Kerry, Mike, Candy, Brian and the entire sales team each and every day,” said Svancara.
Posted on April 10th, 2019
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has set this year’s International Roadcheck for June 4-6. During this 72-hour period, CVSA-certified inspectors will primarily be conducting North American Standard Level I inspections, which is a 37-step procedure that examines the driver and the mechanical fitness of his or her vehicle.
Each year, the CVSA emphasizes a specific category of violations, and this year’s will be steering and suspension systems.
“When it comes to safety, steering and suspension are critical,” said Aim Director of Purchasing & Training Chris Disantis. “The suspension carries your load, but it also maintains the vehicle’s stability in braking situations. Furthermore, it controls the tire’s footprint to the road, which, when maintained properly, also controls steering functionality, braking and, most importantly, safety.”
In some cases, inspectors may choose to perform the Level II Walk-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection, Level III Driver/Credential/Administrative Inspection or Level V Vehicle-Only Inspection. (For information on what’s involved in each inspection level, click here.)
Remember: Critical violations found by inspectors can land a vehicle (or driver) in out-of-service status, meaning the driver and/or vehicle will not be allowed back on the road until identified issues are corrected.
During the Roadcheck, if no critical violations are found, then the inspector will place a CVSA decal, indicating the vehicle passed inspection.
“One of the things we really take pride in at Aim is when a vehicle comes in, whether for routine maintenance or repairs, it won’t leave without being fully compliant with current regulations,” said Aim Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing Matt Svancara. “This means, for example, our full-service lease customers always have the peace of mind knowing their vehicles won’t be placed out of service, avoiding those costly interruptions to business.”
The CVSA’s International Roadcheck is the largest targeted enforcement program on commercial motor vehicles in the world, with roughly 17 trucks and buses inspected every minute across the U.S., Canada and Mexico during the three-day event. Since beginning in 1988, more than 1.6 million inspections have been conducted during these annual events.
Posted on April 8th, 2019
“Drive like you work here” is the theme for this year’s National Work Zone Awareness Week (NWZAW), which begins today and ends April 12. It’s a fitting notion as many commuters often see work zones as an inconvenience, taking little consideration for the individuals who work in these often-dangerous conditions.
On that, this effective tagline is asking us to do one simple thing: put yourself in the worker’s shoes. That is, if your life were on the line, would you slow down? Be more aware? More understanding?
The answer is yes.
Since 2000, the NWZAW is held each year in the spring (the start of construction season) to encourage safe driving in highway work zones nationwide. The key message here is for drivers to use extra caution in work zones.
You may be surprised to learn there were 710 fatal work zone crashes in 2017. The year before there were 687.
So, what are some things to consider when passing through a work zone? Here are some according to the Federal Highway Administration:
- Stay alert and minimize distractions
- Keep your headlights on
- Pay attention to the road (obey road signs, watch traffic around you, etc.)
- Merge into the proper lane
- Leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front of you
- Obey the posted speed limit
- Change lanes safely
- If there’s a flagger, follow his or her instructions
- Expect the unexpected