Wednesday, 15 August 2018

What You Need to Check Out at GATS 2018?

What You Need to Check Out at GATS 2018?
It’s that time of year again! Time to party deep in the heart of Texas with your fellow truckers, because GATS, The Great American Trucking Show, will be kicking off in less than two weeks. This interactive and all-encompassing convention will include more than 500 exhibitors, educational opportunities, pure entertainment, and so much more! So to help you make the most of your visit we broke down what you need to check out at GATS 2018.

Events You Don’t Want to Miss at GATS 2018

The Landstar Health & Wellness Pavilion

Heading over to the Landstar Health and Wellness Pavilion, for free health screenings, and demos on cooking and fitness education demos. A few of the screenings include nutrition evaluations, DOT physicals, diabetes, spinal assessment, BMI, blood pressure, and more.

This portion of the show will include a healthy food vendor, and tons of other vendors offering services and products related to health and wellness. In order to promote driver health and spread health education, there will be an educational seminar and even healthy-cooking demonstrations.

For a full list of the 2018 screenings available, as well as individual booth information, click here.

Trucker Talent Search

On Friday from 3 to 4 PM you can head to the Trucker Talent Search at the Truckers News Stage in Hall A where 3 truckers will compete live. These truckers have been invited to participate in Overdrive-Red Eye Radio’s Trucker Search finals. It’s worth scoping out to discover new talented truckers, plus Tony Justice will be hosting.

All Paws and Claws Pet Grooming

This year at GATS All Paws and Claw will be at the TA|Petro Parking Community to pamper your four-legged road partners while you enjoy the show. They will provide a complete grooming service and booster shots, with brush and bathe services available for dogs and cats.

This will all lead up to a pet parade on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. under the tent, with prizes for the winner. To make an appointment click here to ensure you pooch gets his/her turn.

Overdrive’s Pride & Polish Show

What You Need to Check Out at GATS 2018?
This show is the premier truck beauty championship series in North America. They recognize creativity, excellence, and your dedication to your profession. Competitors from all over the country will be there to show off their shiny rigs.

If you aren’t competing you should definitely take the time to walk around and enjoy seeing these magnificent trucks while attending GATS. The award ceremony will be hosted at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Recruiting Pavilion

Want to find an amazing trucking job? Well, head on down to the Recruiting Pavilion where tons of fleets would love to meet you! There will be over 100 fleets there with representatives to speak to you about their programs and benefits.

They will tell you about the potential for upward mobility and you may find the perfect job that matches your needs. Skip all the phone calls and the online applications by speaking to the fleet representatives yourself, face to face!

2290 Tax Due Date

I know you are excited about GATS, but that doesn’t mean you can let the impending Form 2290 filing deadline slip your mind. Before you head off to GATS 2018 quickly file Form 2290 online with our sister product ExpressTruckTax. Spend less than 10 minutes following their user-friendly step-by-step filing guide to complete and transmit your IRS Form 2290 to the IRS and receive your stamped Schedule 1 in just a matter of minutes.

Need some help? Their 100% US-based bilingual support team is available to answer all of your questions via live chat, phone, and email.

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Thursday, 9 August 2018

CVSA Brake Safety Week 2018: What You Need To Watch Out For

CVSA Brake Safety Week 2018: What You Need To Watch Out For
The annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Brake Safety Week will be September 16-22st. Are you prepared? During this weeklong enforcement spree, CVSA enforcement inspectors will be focusing on critical brake violations, and will conduct driver roadside inspections. According to the Large Truck Crash Causation (LTCCS) Study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 32.7 percent of large trucks with pre-crash violations had brake problems.

What You Need To Watch Out For During Brake Safety Week

CVSA certified inspectors will conduct a standard Level I 37-point inspection that includes you and your vehicle. The brake inspection section will consist of the following:

  • Identifying loose or missing parts
  • Air or hydraulic fluid leaks
  • Defective rotor conditions
  • Measurement of pushrod travel
  • Mismatched air chamber sizes across axles
  • Air reservoir integrity and mounting
  • Worn linens
  • Pads
  • Drums or rotors
  • Brake-system warning devices
  • Also, any other brake components

In 12 jurisdictions you will be using performance-based brake testing (PBBT) equipment to test your vehicle's braking efficiency. For more information on this inspection, visit the CVSA website. 

Moving Forward

CVSA Brake Safety Week 2018: What You Need To Watch Out ForYour Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) IRS Form 2290 is due this month! This means you are officially running out of time to file by the August 31st deadline. Thankfully our sister product, ExpressTruckTax is the leading Form 2290 e-file provider in the industry.

Their straightforward filing process is quick and easy with zero complicated IRS terminology. Directly transmit your completed form to the IRS, receive your stamped Schedule 1 in minutes, and rest easy knowing you are set until 2019.

Have questions? ExpressTruckTax’s 100% US-based bilingual support team will never stick you with a robot or automated call system. Call to talk to a real person today! You can also contact them via live chat or email for support in both English and Spanish.

Start My Form 2290 Filing

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Tuesday, 24 July 2018

What You Need To Know Before the IFTA Filing Deadline

What You Need To Know Before the IFTA Filing DeadlineAs a member of the trucking industry we hope you are well aware of the IFTA filing deadline coming up on Tuesday, July 31st. Trust us– the last thing you want is IRS penalties, so don’t let this deadline sneak up on you. To help you prepare, here is what you need to know before the IFTA filing deadline

Second Quarter IFTA Fuel Tax Due Date:

Tuesday July 31, 2018

What You Need to Complete Your IFTA Filing

  • Total miles traveled per jurisdiction
  • Total amount of fuel purchased per jurisdiction
  • Total amount of fuel consumed per jurisdiction
  • Current tax rate for jurisdiction
  • Amount of tax paid per gallon of fuel per jurisdiction

What Does IFTA Stand For?

The International Fuel Tax Agreement is an arrangement between 48 of the United States and 10 Canadian provinces to report fuel used by motor carriers that operate in more than one jurisdiction (state). The IFTA fuel tax redistributes fuel taxes equally among the jurisdictions.

To show you filed your IFTA return and paid the taxes owed by the deadline, you will be issued an IFTA license and IFTA stickers. The license should be kept in your truck at all times and the IFTA stickers are displayed under your driver’s side window.

What is a Jurisdiction?

Just to clarify, a jurisdiction is a state that you drive through. Your IFTA report is actually due in your base jurisdiction or home state. Your base jurisdiction is also where your truck is registered.

IFTA Fuel Tax Rates 2nd Quarter 2018

What You Need To Know Before the IFTA Filing DeadlineNo need to look up the current IFTA fuel tax rates for the 2nd quarter 2018 filing. When you file your IFTA report with our sister product, ExpressIFTA, your IFTA fuel tax rates will be automatically calculated. Their IFTA software automatically updates at the end of the quarter to ensure your IFTA tax rates are 100% accurate.

Looking For a Full-Service IFTA Software?

You have come to the right place! Well, almost. Our sister product ExpressIFTA is full of innovative features to help you complete your IFTA fuel tax report. All you have to do to get started is create your free account, enter your business information, specify your base jurisdiction, enter your vehicle's details, list your miles and fuel records, and generate your IFTA fuel tax report.

Say goodbye to the days of complicated IFTA fuel tax rates and calculations. ExpressIFTA’s software will accurately calculate your IFTA fuel tax rates and IFTA tax based on the information provided. Never worry about over- or underpaying again.

File Your IFTA Taxes Online

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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Form 2290 Filing Mistakes and Penalties You Can Avoid

Truck back on the road after completing Form 2290 filing with no mistake and he avoided penalties
It’s official! The Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT) Form 2290 filing season is underway. But have no fear, you still have plenty of time for Form 2290 filing with our sister product, ExpressTruckTax. Their easy-to-use filing process makes Form 2290 filing simple and straightforward. We understand taxes can be confusing and often frustrating when trying to decipher IRS terminology, which is why we are sharing Form 2290 filing mistakes and penalties you can avoid. If you miss your Form 2290 due date or don’t correct an error, the penalties will make the whole tax situation even worse.

Form 2290 Filing Mistakes and Penalties You Can Avoid

Before we get into Form 2290 filing mistakes and penalties, let’s review what you will need to file.

  • Authorized signatory details
  • Business Name & Address
  • EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Gross Taxable Weight
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) 

With ExpressTruckTax you can pay 2290 with a credit card or debit this filing season. Or, if you pay to the IRS direct debit, you will need your routing and account number.

You are required to have an EIN for Form 2290 online. You cannot use your SSN (Social Security Number). If you still need to apply for an EIN, click here. Once you apply, it will take time for it to become active in the IRS system. It typically takes up to 10 business days for the EIN to become active.

Common Heavy Highway Use Tax Mistakes

Incorrect EIN

As I stated above, you are required to have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) to file your heavy use tax. An EIN is assigned to companies operating in the United States to identify them for tax reporting purposes.

An EIN is a string of nine digits just like your Social Security Number; however the format is different (EIN: 12-3456789 | SSN: 123-456-789), so you will be able to tell the difference. Because it is labeled as an identification number for “employers,” many have the misconception that they don’t need it for Form 2290 filing. If you attempt to use your SSN to file your IRS Form 2290, it will be rejected.

Incorrect VIN

Your Heavy Highway Use Tax will be rejected if your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is entered incorrectly. This mistake is easily understandable considering it is 17 characters long including number and letters.

Before you start the Form 2290 filing process be sure to whip out those glasses. Double and triple check your VIN to make sure you entered it correctly. However, our friends at ExpressTruckTax understand that mistakes happen which is why they offer FREE VIN corrections. 

Tax Calculation Errors

At ExpressTruckTax they understand that IRS tax calculations can be rough; which is why their system automatically calculates your owed tax amount. No need to worry about complicated tax math this Form 2290 2018-19 season. Plus, when you choose ExpressTruckTax you don’t have to pay right then, you can continue to save up until the Form 2290 due date on August 31. But don’t forget!

Heavy Highway Use Tax Penalties

Back on the road at last after filing his heavy highway use taxIf you can show the IRS reasonable cause for failing to file or pay your heavy use tax on time, you may avoid penalties. If you file after the Form 2290 due date, you will need to attach an explanation to show reasonable cause. However, your statement may or may not be accepted by the IRS.

The penalty for failing to file a correct heavy use tax IRS Form 2290 by the August 31st deadline with ExpressTruckTax is equal to 4.5 % of the total tax amount owed. This penalty will increase on a monthly basis for up to five months. The penalty for failing to pay your heavy highway use tax payment is .5% of the total tax owed. You will also face an additional interest charge of .54% per month this remains unpaid.

Depending on your base jurisdiction, your vehicle may be suspended until you can provide proof of road tax 2290 payment. This proof is your stamped Schedule 1 which you receive after your Form 2290 filing. You need a stamped Schedule 1 to renew your tags and register new vehicles. If you operate on a typical trucking tax year, your tags ran out on June 31st. Without your stamped Schedule 1 you will be operating illegally. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with that, so it’s essential you start and complete your Form 2290 filing with ExpressTruckTax and receive your stamped Schedule 1. 

ExpressTruckTax Makes Form 2290 Filing Simple

Now that you know what mistakes to avoid and what to avoid, it's time to start the Form 2290 filing process. The Form 2290 due date is right around the corner, so there is no time to waste. Our sister product, ExpressTruckTax provides you with a straightforward and convenient Form 2290 e-filing solution. Say goodbye to any Form 2290 filing hassles.

If you have any questions about Form 2290 filing our friends over at ExpressTruckTax are there to help. Their 100% US-based bilingual support team will never stick you with a robot or automated call system. Call to talk to a real person today! You can also contact them via live chat or email for support in both English and Spanish.

Start My Form 2290 Filing

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Thursday, 12 July 2018

Are You Prepared For The Driver-Focused Blitz Week?

American trucker on the road during the CVSA operation safe driver week
The annual Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week will be July 15- 21st. Are you prepared for the driver-focused blitz week? During this weeklong enforcement spree, CVSA enforcement inspectors will be focusing on traffic violations, driver regulatory compliance, seat belt enforcement, and will conduct driver roadside inspections. According to the CVSA, driver behavior is the leading cause of accidents involving a heavy use vehicle. Driver behavior causes 88 percent of truck crashes and 93 percent of passenger vehicle crashes.

Are You Prepared For The Driver-Focused Blitz Week?

The CVSA will target the following during the Operation Safe Driver Week:
  • Speeding
  • Distracted driving
  • Texting
  • Failure to wear a seat belt
  • Improper lane change
  • Failure to obey traffic laws

So what does this all boil down too? Mind your “p’s” and “q’s” during this week. However, if you are already obeying all of the rules of the road, you will be fine.

Last year approximately 39,000 citations and warnings were issued to truckers during the Operation Safe Driver Week. More than 85 percent of the citations given were for state and local moving violations. So during this week plan ahead by researching any state traffic violations that are particular to where you will be traveling. Also, pay careful attention to your surroundings.

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Tuesday, 10 July 2018

What Rookies Need to Know About The Jake Brake

What Rookies Need to Know About The Jake Brake
The jake brake or engine brake is an invaluable tool available to professional truck drivers. It is typically used for slowing down your rig in certain situations. It is not intended to replace your service brake, however. It uses your diesel engine’s power to slow your truck. Some truckers might use their jake brake on dangerous snowy roads or during severe storms. However, in recent years they have become a thoroughly debated topic among those in the trucking industry. Here is what rookies need to know about the jake brake.

What Rookies Need to Know About The Jake Brake

10 Tips and Tricks For Using The Jake Brake:

    1. The engine brake is excellent to use in normal conditions at virtually anytime you need to slow down.
    2. If you use the engine break correctly on mountain roads, it could add years to your brake shoes.
    3. Can prevent brake fires that are caused by leaving the top of a grade too fast, resulting in too much pressure on the brake pedal.
    4. Do not use the jake brake when the engine is cold.
    5. Always check to see if your engine is low on oil.
    6. In position 3 the engine brake is strongest, and positions 1 & 2 are used for better road conditions.
    7. Test your engine brake at the beginning of your trip once the engine is at operating temperature to ensure it is working properly.
    8. It runs on a ‘no fuel position’ meaning your foot is off the gas pedal. To activate you will take your foot off the gas when the jake brake is left on (it can be turned on and off as required).
    9. When driving down the mountain, it is preferred to start downgrade and allow the jake brake to do 90% of the work and only tap the brake pedal as needed. 
    10. Please don’t use it in a truck stop parking lot!

How to Use The Jake Brake

  • Leave it on
  • Flip it on as needed

Some truck drivers like to switch it to one when they start driving and leave it on. While others prefer to switch it on somewhere in the middle of their shift, as needed. Some say that it messes with shifting gears, but this is up to your preference and rig.

However, the consensus is that it is a convenient tool when needing to slow down a truck and many couldn’t do without it.

The ‘No Jake Brake’ Signs

What Rookies Need to Know About The Jake Brake
Ok, now we are going to go into the debate itself that we mentioned at the top of this piece. If you have your CDL, you have probably noticed the ‘no jake brake’ signs floating around various locations prohibiting the use of the jake brake.

Jake brakes or engine brakes do make an unbelievably loud noise which can be disturbing to those living near the highway or interstate. However, the general public needs to understand that truck drivers do not use the jake brake to upset those in the surrounding area it is merely a safety precaution.

The sound the engine brake makes is loud, and there is no point in trying to argue that point, but it is used to slow a 55,000 plus vehicle down.

To Jake Brake or Not to Jake Brake

It comes down to your preferences if you wish to use this stopping device. The advice listed above is merely to get you started and to educate you on the basics. You should always follow the advice of your training instructor or safety director.

Hey, wait! Before I let you go, just a quick reminder, your IFTA and HVUT taxes are coming up fast! Don’t get run over by the IRS and file now before it is too late. For more information on the upcoming Form 2290 filing deadline and IFTA fuel tax click here.

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver: What You Need to Know

Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver: What You Need to Know
One of the most frequently asked questions in the trucking industry is whether to be an owner-operator or a company driver. While the driving and knowledge for either are the same, there are a few things to concerned before making a decision. Here is what you need to know about choosing between these two types of careers.

Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver: What You Need to Know

If you are currently a company driver considering a career as an owner-operator or an owner-operator thinking about driving a company truck and selling your rig, you need to weigh the pros and cons and choose which fits you.

Taking the leap of faith and becoming an owner-operator is never something that should be rushed. There is a high demand for drivers in the US currently, so time is on your side. If you want to buy your own truck be sure to think about your financial circumstances and everything that will be required.

While you might think a career as an owner-operator will mean more money this, however, is simply untrue. There are several company drivers (depending on their company) that make as much as an owner-operator.

Perks of Becoming an Owner-Operator

While there is no guarantee that you will have more money in your pocket as an owner-operator, you will have the potential if you are running your trucking business efficiently. Typically you will get paid for the extras where a company driver does not, because of the contractual agreement. There are also lower rates, especially when incorporated.

Another advance of being an owner-operator is, of course, owning your truck. You don’t have to deal with switching vehicles each run or other drivers messing with the equipment. You can choose the gear that works best for your needs and comfort. You can get your preferred brand of seating or any other equipment to personalize your convenience while on the road. However, it does sometimes come at a steep price.

As an owner-operator, you are your own boss, so you don’t have to worry about dispatching forcing you onto the road. You have freedom choosing loads and when you work. You will generally have more control over your job as a whole.

Cons of Becoming an Owner-Operator

Owner-Operator vs. Company Driver: What You Need to KnowNow that you know the perks or pros of becoming an owner-operator, let's look at some of the disadvantages. To start off as an owner-operator, you will need a good chunk of cash to start off with. Buying your rig will take a sizable down payment, and there is always a financial risk when it comes to the monthly payments. Also, you will need money left over after buying your rig to stay on the road and to cover any possible repairs that are required.

Compared to a company driver you will have more time off, however, this time will be mostly spent on repairs and maintenance. If you plan to have a repair shop do the work you will still need to take time to drop off and pick up, plus there will be a substantial expense. There is also business bookkeeping that must be completed to keep your business afloat. With all of this, there is typically not much time left over for quality family time.

Due to the risk of failure and the lack of downtime, you will endure a great deal of stress when it comes to being an owner-operator. Even when you are doing everything right, you are always at risk from the unexpected. Unexpected illness, repairs, truck payments, and everything else that comes with being an owner-operator will cause some stress. 

So What is the Better Option?

Some are completely satisfied with driving for a company because of the lower stress, while others love the independence and freedom that comes with being an owner-operator. It’s essential that you do your research to understand your options and what will be required. However, the bottom line is that you should not rush into a decision and this choice should be made for yourself and what you want from your career.

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