Retail Tax on Heavy Trucks, Trailers, and Tractors
A tax of 12% of the sales price is imposed on the first retail sale of the following articles, including related parts and
accessories sold on or in connection with, or with the sale of, the articles.
Truck chassis and bodies.
Truck trailer and semitrailer chassis and bodies.
Tractors of the kind chiefly used for highway transportation in combination with a trailer or semitrailer.
A truck is a highway vehicle primarily designed to transport its load on the same chassis as the engine, even if it is equipped
to tow a vehicle, such as a trailer or semitrailer.
A tractor is a highway vehicle designed to tow a vehicle, such as a trailer or semitrailer. A tractor may carry incidental
items of cargo when towing or limited amounts of cargo when not towing.
A sale of a truck, truck trailer, or semitrailer is considered a sale of a chassis and a body.
The seller is liable for the tax.
Chassis or body.
A chassis or body is taxable only if you sell it for use as a component part of a highway vehicle that is a truck,
truck trailer or semitrailer, or a tractor of the kind chiefly used for highway transportation in combination with a trailer
A highway vehicle is any self-propelled vehicle designed to carry a load over public highways, whether or not it is
also designed to perform other functions. Examples of vehicles designed to carry a load over public highways are passenger
automobiles, motorcycles, buses, and highway-type trucks and truck tractors. A vehicle is a highway vehicle even though the
vehicle's design allows it to perform a highway transportation function for only one of the following.
A particular type of load, such as passengers, furnishings, and personal effects (as in a house, office, or utility trailer).
A special kind of cargo, goods, supplies, or materials.
Some off-highway task unrelated to highway transportation, except as discussed next.
Vehicles not considered highway vehicles.
Generally, the following kinds of vehicles are not considered highway vehicles for purposes of the retail tax.
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 could not, because of its special design and without substantial structural modification, be used as part of a
vehicle designed to carry any other load.
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 vehicles'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.
Nontransportation trailers and
semitrailers. A trailer or semitrailer isn't treated as a highway vehicle if it is specially designed to function only as an enclosed stationary
shelter for carrying on a nontransportation function at an off-highway site. For example, a trailer that is capable only of
functioning as an office for an off-highway construction operation isn't a highway vehicle.
Gross vehicle weight.
The tax doesn't apply to truck chassis and bodies suitable for use with a vehicle that has a gross vehicle weight
(defined below) of 33,000 pounds or less. It also doesn't apply to truck trailer and semitrailer chassis and bodies suitable
for use with a trailer or semitrailer that has a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less. Tractors that have a gross
vehicle weight of 19,500 pounds or less and a gross combined weight of 33,000 pounds or less are excluded from the 12% retail
The following four classifications of truck body types meet the suitable for use standard
and will be excluded from the retail excise tax.
Platform truck bodies 21 feet or less in length.
Dry freight and refrigerated truck van bodies 24 feet or less in length.
Dump truck bodies with load capacities of 8 cubic yards or less.
Refuse packer truck bodies with load capacities of 20 cubic yards or less.
For more information on these classifications, see Revenue Procedure 2005-19, which is on page 832 of I.R.B. 2005-14 at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-irbs/irb05-14.pdf
The gross vehicle weight means the maximum total weight of a loaded vehicle. Generally, this maximum total weight
is the gross vehicle weight rating provided by the manufacturer or determined by the seller of the completed article. The
seller's gross vehicle weight rating is determined solely on the basis of the strength of the chassis frame and the axle capacity
and placement. The seller may not take into account any readily attachable components (such as tires or rim assemblies) in
determining the gross vehicle weight. See Regulations section 145.4051-1(e)(3) for more information.
Parts or accessories.
The tax applies to parts or accessories sold on or in connection with, or with the sale of, a taxable article. For
example, if at the time of the sale by the retailer, the part or accessory has been ordered from the retailer, the part or
accessory will be considered as sold in connection with the sale of the vehicle. The tax applies in this case whether or not
the retailer bills the parts or accessories separately.
If the retailer sells a taxable chassis, body, or tractor without parts or accessories considered essential for the
operation or appearance of the taxable article, the sale of the parts or accessories by the retailer to the purchaser is considered
made in connection with the sale of the taxable article even though they are shipped separately, at the same time, or on a
different date. The tax applies unless there is evidence to the contrary. For example, if a retailer sells to any person a
chassis and the bumpers for the chassis, or sells a taxable tractor and the fifth wheel and attachments, the tax applies to
the parts or accessories regardless of the method of billing or the time at which the shipments were made. The tax doesn't
apply to parts and accessories that are spares or replacements.
The tax imposed on parts and accessories sold on or in connection with the taxable articles listed earlier and the
tax imposed on the separate purchase of parts and accessories (discussed next) for the taxable articles listed earlier do
not apply to an idling reduction device or insulation that has an R value of at least R35 per inch.
Idling reduction device.
An idling reduction device is any device or system of devices that provide the tractor with services, such as heat,
air conditioning, and electricity, without the use of the main drive engine while the tractor is temporarily parked or stationary.
The device must be affixed to the tractor and determined by the Administrator of the EPA, in consultation with the Secretary
of Energy and Secretary of Transportation, to reduce idling while parked or stationary. The EPA discusses idling reduction
technologies on its website at www.epa.gov/smartway/technology/idling.htm
The tax generally applies to the price of a part or accessory and its installation if the following conditions are
The owner, lessee, or operator of any vehicle that contains a taxable article installs any part or accessory on the vehicle.
The installation occurs within 6 months after the vehicle is first placed in service.
The owners of the trade or business installing the parts or accessories are secondarily liable for the tax.
A vehicle is placed in service on the date the owner takes actual possession of the vehicle. This date is established
by a signed delivery ticket or other comparable document indicating delivery to and acceptance by the owner.
The tax doesn't apply if the installed part or accessory is a replacement part or accessory. The tax also doesn't
apply if the total price of the parts and accessories, including installation charges, during the 6-month period is $1,000
or less. However, if the total price is more than $1,000, the tax applies to the cost of all parts and accessories (and installation
charges) during that period.
You bought a taxable vehicle and placed it in service on April 8. On May 3, you bought and installed parts and accessories
at a cost of $850. On July 15, you bought and installed parts and accessories for $300. Tax of $138 (12% of $1,150) applies
on July 15. Also, tax will apply to any costs of additional parts and accessories installed on the vehicle before October
First retail sale defined.
The sale of an article is treated as the first retail sale, and the seller will be liable for the tax imposed on the
sale unless one of the following exceptions applies.
There has been a prior taxable sale, lease, or use of the article (however, see Tax on resale of tax-paid trailers and semitrailers, later).
The sale qualifies as a tax-free sale under section 4221 (see Sales exempt from tax, later).
The seller in good faith accepts from the purchaser a statement signed under penalties of perjury and executed in good faith
that the purchaser intends to resell the article or lease it on a long-term basis. There is no registration requirement.
A long-term lease (a lease with a term of 1 year or more, taking into account options to renew) before a first retail
sale is treated as a taxable sale. The tax is imposed on the lessor at the time of the lease.
A short-term lease (a lease with a term of less than 1 year, taking into account options to renew) before a first
retail sale is treated as a taxable use. The tax is imposed on the lessor at the time of the lease.
A vehicle exported before its first retail sale, used in a foreign country, and then returned to the United States
is subject to the retail tax on its first domestic use or retail sale after importation.
Tax on resale of tax-paid trailers and semitrailers.
The tax applies to a trailer or semitrailer resold within 6 months after having been sold in a taxable sale. The seller
liable for the tax on the resale can claim a credit equal to the tax paid on the prior taxable sale. The credit can't exceed
the tax on the resale. See Regulations section 145.4052-1(a)(4) for information on the conditions to allowance for the credit.
Use treated as sale.
If any person uses a taxable article before the first retail sale of the article, that person is liable for the tax
as if the article had been sold at retail by that person. Figure the tax on the price at which similar articles are sold in
the ordinary course of trade by retailers. The tax attaches when the use begins.
If the seller of an article regularly sells the articles at retail in arm's-length transactions, figure the tax on
its use on the lowest established retail price for the articles in effect at the time of the taxable use.
If the seller of an article doesn't regularly sell the articles at retail in arm's-length transactions, a constructive
price on which the tax is figured will be determined by the IRS after considering the selling practices and price structures
of sellers of similar articles.
If a seller of an article incurs liability for tax on the use of the article and later sells or leases the article
in a transaction that otherwise would be taxable, liability for tax isn't incurred on the later sale or lease.
Presumptive retail sales price.
There are rules to ensure that the tax base of transactions considered to be taxable sales includes either an actual
or presumed markup percentage. If the person liable for tax is the vehicle's manufacturer, producer, or importer, the following
discussions show how you figure the presumptive retail sales price depending on the type of transaction and the persons involved
in the transaction. Table 6-1
outlines the appropriate tax base calculation for various transactions.
The presumed markup percentage
to be used for trucks and truck-tractors is 4%. But for truck trailers and semitrailers and remanufactured trucks and tractors,
the presumed markup percentage is zero.
For a taxable sale by a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person, you generally figure the tax on a tax
base of the sales price plus an amount equal to the presumed markup percentage times that sales price.
In the case of a long-term lease by a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person, figure the tax on a tax
base of the constructive sales price plus an amount equal to the presumed markup percentage times the constructive sales price.
When a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person leases an article in a short-term lease considered a taxable
use, figure the tax on a constructive sales price at which those or similar articles generally are sold in the ordinary course
of trade by retailers.
But if the lessor in this situation regularly sells articles at retail in arm's-length transactions, figure the tax
on the lowest established retail price in effect at the time of the taxable use.
If a person other than the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person leases an article in a short-term lease
considered a taxable use, figure the tax on a tax base of the price for which the article was sold to the lessor plus the
cost of parts and accessories installed by the lessor and a presumed markup percentage.
A related person is any member of the same controlled group as the manufacturer, producer, or importer. Don't treat
as a related person a person that sells the articles through a permanent retail establishment in the normal course of being
a retailer if that person has records to prove the article was sold for a price that included a markup equal to or greater
than the presumed markup percentage.
|IF the transaction is a...
||THEN figuring the base by using the...
|Sale by the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person
||Sales price plus (presumed markup percentage × sales price)
|Sale by the dealer
||Total consideration paid for the item including any charges incident to placing it in a condition ready for use
|Long-term lease by the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person
||Constructive sales price plus (presumed markup percentage × constructive sales price)
|Short-term lease by the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person
||Constructive sales price at which such or similar articles are sold
|Short-term lease by a lessor other than the manufacturer, producer, importer, or related person
||Price for which the article was sold to the lessor plus the cost of parts and accessories installed by the lessor plus a presumed markup percentage
|Short-term lease where the articles are regularly sold at arm's length
||Lowest established retail price in effect at the time of the taxable use
|General rule for sales by dealers to the consumer.
For a taxable sale, other than a long-term lease, by a person other than a manufacturer, producer, importer, or related
person, your tax base is the retail sales price as discussed next under Determination of tax base
When you sell an article to the consumer, generally you do not add a presumed markup to the tax base. However, you
do add a markup if all the following apply.
You do not perform any significant activities relating to the processing of the sale of a taxable article.
The main reason for processing the sale through you is to avoid or evade the presumed markup.
You do not have records proving that the article was sold for a price that included a markup equal to or greater than the
presumed markup percentage.
In these situations, your tax base is the sales price plus an amount equal to the presumed markup percentage times that selling
Determination of tax base.
These rules apply to both normal retail sales price and presumptive retail sales price computations. To arrive at
the tax base, the price is the total consideration paid (including trade-in allowance) for the item and includes any charge
incident to placing the article in a condition ready for use. However, see Presumptive retail sales price
Exclusions from tax base.
Exclude from the tax base the retail excise tax imposed on the sale. Exclude any state or local retail sales tax if
stated as a separate charge from the price whether the sales tax is imposed on the seller or purchaser. Also exclude the value
of any used component of the article furnished by the first user of the article.
Exclude charges for transportation, delivery, insurance, and installation (other than installation charges for parts
and accessories, discussed earlier) and other expenses incurred in connection with the delivery of an article to a purchaser.
These expenses are those incurred in delivery from the retail dealer to the customer. In the case of delivery directly from
the manufacturer to the dealer's customer, include the transportation and delivery charges to the extent the charges do not
exceed what it would have cost to ship the article to the dealer.
Exclude amounts charged for machinery or equipment that doesn't contribute to the highway transportation function
of the vehicle, provided those charges are supported by adequate records. For example, for an industrial vacuum loader vehicle,
exclude amounts charged for the vacuum pump and hose, filter system, material separator, silencer or muffler, control cabinet,
and ladder. Similarly, for a sewer cleaning vehicle, exclude amounts charged for the high pressure water pump, hose components,
and the vacuum pipe.
Sales not at arm's length.
For any taxable article sold (not at arm's length) at less than the fair market price, figure the excise tax on the
price for which similar articles are sold at retail in the ordinary course of trade.
A sale isn't at arm's length if either of the following apply.
One of the parties is controlled (in law or in fact) by the other or there is common control, whether or not the control is
actually exercised to influence the sales price.
The sale is made under special arrangements between a seller and a purchaser.
If the first retail sale is an installment sale, or other form of sale in which the sales price is paid in installments,
tax liability arises at the time of the sale. The tax is figured on the entire sales price. No part of the tax is deferred
because the sales price is paid in installments.
Repairs and modifications.
The tax doesn't apply to the sale or use of an article that has been repaired or modified unless the cost of the repairs
and modifications is more than 75% of the retail price of a comparable new article. This includes modifications that change
the transportation function of an article or restore a wrecked article to a functional condition. However, this exception
generally doesn't apply to an article that wasn't subject to the tax when it was new.
The tax doesn't apply to the use by a person of a taxable article as material in the manufacture or production of,
or as a component part of, another article to be manufactured or produced by that person. Don't treat a person as engaged
in the manufacture of any article merely because that person combines the article with a:
Coupling device (including any fifth wheel);
Loading and unloading equipment (including any crane, hoist, winch, or power liftgate);
Aerial ladder or tower;
Ice and snow control equipment;
Earth moving, excavation, and construction equipment;
Cab shield; or
Wood or metal floor.
Combining an article with an item in this list doesn't give rise to taxability. However, see Parts or accessories
Articles exempt from tax.
The tax on heavy trucks, trailers, and tractors doesn't apply to sales of the articles described in the following
Rail trailers and rail vans.
This is any chassis or body of a trailer or semitrailer designed for use both as a highway vehicle and a railroad
car (including any parts and accessories designed primarily for use on and in connection with it). Don't treat a piggyback
trailer or semitrailer as designed for use as a railroad car.
Parts and accessories.
This is any part or accessory sold separately from the truck or trailer, except as described earlier under Parts or accessories
and Separate purchase
This is any box, container, receptacle, bin, or similar article that meets all the following conditions.
It is designed to be used as a trash container.
It isn't designed to carry freight other than trash.
It isn't designed to be permanently mounted on or affixed to a truck chassis or body.
This is any house trailer (regardless of size) suitable for use in connection with either passenger automobiles or
Camper coaches or bodies for self-propelled mobile homes.
This is any article designed to be mounted or placed on trucks, truck chassis, or automobile chassis and to be used
primarily as living quarters or camping accommodations. Further, the tax doesn't apply to chassis specifically designed and
constructed to accommodate and transport self-propelled mobile home bodies.
Farm feed, seed, and fertilizer equipment.
This is any body primarily designed to process or prepare, haul, spread, load, or unload feed, seed, or fertilizer
to or on farms. This exemption applies only to the farm equipment body (and parts and accessories) and not to the chassis
upon which the farm equipment is mounted.
Ambulances and hearses.
This is any ambulance, hearse, or combination ambulance-hearse.
This is any truck-tractor specifically designed for use in shifting semitrailers in and around freight yards and freight
This is any article designed to be placed or mounted on a truck, truck trailer, or semitrailer chassis to be used
to process or prepare concrete. This exemption doesn't apply to the chassis on which the article is mounted.
Sales exempt from tax.
The following sales are ordinarily exempt from tax.
Sales to a state or local government for its exclusive use.
Sales to Indian tribal governments, but only if the transaction involves the exercise of an essential tribal government function.
Sales to a nonprofit educational organization for its exclusive use.
Sales to a qualified blood collector organization (as defined under Communications Tax in chapter 4) for its exclusive use in the collection, storage, or transportation of blood.
Sales for use by the purchaser for further manufacture of other taxable articles (see below).
Sales for export or for resale by the purchaser to a second purchaser for export.
Sales to the United Nations for official use.
In general, the seller and buyer must be registered for a sale to be tax free. See the Form 637 instructions for more
information. Certain registration exceptions apply in the case of sales to state and local governments, sales to foreign purchasers
for export, and sales for resale or long term leasing.
If you buy articles tax free and resell or use them other than in the manufacture of another article, you are liable
for the tax on their resale or use just as if you had manufactured and made the first retail sale of them.
Credits or refunds.
A credit or refund (without interest) of the retail tax on the taxable articles described earlier may be allowable
if the tax has been paid with respect to an article and, before any other use, such article is used by any person as a component
part of another taxable article manufactured or produced. The person using the article as a component part is eligible for
the credit or refund.
A credit or refund is allowable if, before any other use, an article is, by any person:
Used or sold for use as supplies for vessels,
Sold to a state or local government for its exclusive use,
Sold to a nonprofit educational organization for its exclusive use, or
Sold to a qualified blood collector organization (as defined under Communications Tax in chapter 4) for its exclusive use in the collection, storage, or transportation of blood.
A credit or refund is also allowable if there is a price readjustment by reason of the return or repossession of an article
or by reason of a bona fide discount, rebate, or allowance.
See also Conditions to allowance
in chapter 5.
A credit is allowed against the retail tax on the taxable articles described earlier if taxable tires are sold on
or in connection with the sale of the article. The credit is equal to the manufacturers excise tax imposed on the taxable
tires (discussed earlier). This is the section 4051(d) taxable tire credit and is claimed on Schedule C (Form 720) for the
same quarter for which the tax on the heavy vehicle is reported.