Making your IFTA reports easier with asset tracking
The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) was conceived to make fuel tax reporting easier. Where carriers had to file separate fuel tax forms for each state they operate in, now they only have to prepare a single, consolidated tax form.
While IFTA has taken strides to streamline the process, preparing the periodic fuel tax reports can still be quite the daunting tax for many carriers. As the quarterly deadline inches closer, fleet managers usually have to run through a few months’ worths of fuel and mileage records to spare the company from penalties and worse, external audits.
To help you avoid fines and audits, here are a few points to consider in using asset tracking tools for your next IFTA tax processing:
A Quick Rundown of IFTA Requirements:
The process starts with filing your application from your base jurisdiction, the state where your fleet principally operates. After filing, IFTA decals are handed out and must be on your truck at all times
For the quarterly reports, it is important that commercial carriers keep a complete record of the fuel purchased as well as the mileage for each vehicle has run. Invoices for fuel tax paid in each state are also important, as is the breakdown of fuel and mileage for every state your vehicles have passed through.
Using Asset Tracking for Easier Reporting
For carrier companies looking to evaluate the best asset tracking solutions out there, the word telematics gets thrown a lot. It simply refers to the study, and practical applications, of data transmission over long distances. Basically, carriers can now pinpoint and monitor the exact location of their trucks as they move to and from their destinations. In the long term, fleet managers can use these data to optimize routes, reduce fuel and labor costs, and monitor product and personnel safety.
Today, these asset tracking tools have improved to deliver to a wide range of applications and industries. With these, it is even possible to monitor the temperature inside refrigerated vehicles and even inform fleet managers if these temperatures drop below certain points.
As a holistic solution for carrier companies, the use of the right telematics solution can make even the dreaded IFTA report easier. For fleet managers, the use of telematics systems will provide them with vital information such as driver and vehicle data such as location corresponding to specific date and time. What’s more, some solutions even offer monitoring of the fuel consumed.
In the long term, managers can compare these data to monitor the movement of fuel prices and even conduct comparative studies based on available data such as mileage, fuel consumed, and even the route taken.
From the driver’s end, they no longer have to fill out forms after forms on their mileage and fuel consumption, usually for each state they drive through. With telematics, the process becomes as easy as logging in, then they can download or forward the reports to their shift supervisors or fleet managers. Aside from convenience, it also cuts down processing time and increases their accuracy in reporting, With these automated processes, the drawbacks from human error such as faulty reporting and difficult handwriting are eliminated.
Taking the automation of fleet management tasks further, some asset tracking solutions are even capable of connecting you with your fuel provider. Since most carriers now use the nifty fleet card for their on-road fuel purchases, solutions providers have begun to offer fuel card integration arrangements. With a click of a button, you can now draw data such as branch location, total volume loaded, cost breakdown, and of course the timestamp for each transaction.
Basic Parts of Asset Tracking Solutions
Nowadays, most of the large carriers own trucks fitted with GPS trackers and other telematics equipment. Some of the most common pieces of tech you will find nowadays are Electronic Logging Devices or ELDs to correspond to the growing task of tracking mileage.
Of course, all these data transmitted by your fleet from multiple locations across the country must be readily available in real-time. These transmissions usually come home and are presented to you via fleet tracking software. As a part of the total telematics solutions, GPS asset tracking software usually makes data available anytime, anywhere and can be viewed from the office computer to the manager’s mobile phone.
The right software tools show the right data, as well as the convenient feature of breaking down your mileage and fuel consumption by state. Fleet managers can quickly organize these data, either by a predetermined vehicle identification system or even by total mileage or fuel consumption by state.
An important point when evaluating your next total telematics solution: check the data retention period. Some solutions provider will only offer to keep your data for three to six months, during which you might have to manually pull those files out and back them up somewhere else. While this in itself is good enough for keeping your IFTA quarterly reports at bay, take note that IFTA requires records to be “kept for four years from the date the tax return was due or filed, whichever is later.”
Even in the carrier and forwarding business, it goes to show that necessity really is the mother of invention. The need to agree to an orderly manner of filing taxes brought the IFTA to life. Advancements in technology have allowed fleet managers to monitor each of their vehicles, almost as if they were beside their trusty truckers all throughout.
In transport, literally every second count and every moment wasted is money wasted. Imagine the time and the costs if drivers are spared from the traditional paper-based logs every time they enter a new state. Imagine if your drivers can condition themselves and take the time off to rest instead of filing additional reports and paperwork.
The use of asset tracking solutions through telematics might appear a huge step for other truckers, but careful assessment and study should provide managers with their own answers. Is the risk of investing in telematics solution enough to outweigh the risks of late or inaccurate quarterly IFTA reports?
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