Most Fleet Managers think about IFTA as little as possible. That’s unfortunate because the work that IFTA does makes sure that the highways our fleets roll on get maintained. IFTA does that by spreading fuel tax revenues equitably. That’s definitely a benefit. Still, when they think about it at all, Fleet Managers probably think about the headaches IFTA has caused them.
Avoiding common reporting mistakes helps you eliminate headaches. Paperwork and record-keeping can seem like busy-work compared to the real work of maintaining equipment and hauling loads. Your business runs better when you devote the same care to administration that you do to execution. IFTA reporting is just an administrative task but it’s worth doing right.
If you treat IFTA reporting as an inconvenience, chances are good that it will be. When you make mistakes on quarterly reports those mistakes cost your fleet time, money, and effort. When you take control of IFTA reporting and use the right tools for the job, it becomes easy to manage. Simplify the process while ensuring success and you’ll be free to focus on other businesses.
The 8 Most Common IFTA Reporting Mistakes
When you make mistakes on your fleet’s quarterly IFTA reports it can cost you. It can cost money in the form of fines or late fees. It can cost you time and productivity if your tax license is revoked and your equipment is sidelined until you resolve the issues. It can cost you time, money, and effort if you don’t take advantage of technology to make the process simple, streamlined, and successful.
When you get your fleet’s quarterly IFTA reports in on time and done right, you avoid any potential problems. When you get the job done efficiently, you’re minimizing the costs and maximizing the benefits.
Make sure you avoid these common mistakes so that your fleet doesn’t have to deal with IFTA issues.
1. Not Filing Quarterly Reports
If your fleet includes IFTA qualified vehicles, you have to submit a quarterly IFTA report. Even if your fleet does seasonal work and has zero miles to report in a given quarter, you still have to submit a report indicating that is the case.
Failing to file a report will cost you at least a fine. It will be $50 or 10% of the net tax liability—whichever amount is greater. Of course, ongoing noncompliance will result in your fleet having its fuel tax license revoked and additional problems.
2. Filing Late
The old saying “better late than never” doesn’t really apply when it comes to IFTA. Even if your only miss the deadline by a little bit, you’ll still find yourself paying the late fees.
Waiting until the last minute and rushing to get your quarterly report in is a common mistake that we’ll cover on this list. The best way to avoid the mistakes of forgetting to file or filing late is to use technology to make your life easier. There are software tools dedicated to making IFTA reporting an automated and easy process. At the very least, you should set reminders and alarms for yourself.
3. Estimating Fuel Calculations
Getting your quarterly reports in and getting them there on time is important. But if your reports contain bad information, you might not be much farther ahead than if you hadn’t filed them at all. One of the biggest reasons that IFTA reports wind up with bad numbers is because the numbers coming in from drivers are estimates instead of actuals.
Going off of logs, hand-written notes, or dispatch records for routes is a sure way to find yourself guesstimating the actual mileage and fuel usage that goes into your reports. Small errors in your estimates will compound and magnify as you add up the totals that determine your final tally.
4. Waiting Until the Last Minute
So far, we’ve covered not getting your reports in, getting them in late, and working off of estimates. These are all problems that are more likely to impact your quarterly IFTA report when you wait until the last minute to get started on filling it out.
Using IFTA compliant software solutions to track mileage and generate reports mean that you won’t have to scramble at the last minute to gather the information that you need to complete an accurate report. Most IFTA compliant software gives you reminders of quarterly filing deadlines so you won’t have to remember the dates on your own.
5. Not Recording Every Mile
What some Fleet Managers don’t know is that your IFTA report needs to account for every mile that your qualified vehicles log during the quarter. That includes unloaded miles, bobtail miles, and personal travel miles.
When you use IFTA compliant software, you’ll get accurate reports of the actual mileage that you need to report. You won’t have to worry about missed miles, bad estimates, or other sources of errors that will cause ripples in the data you report.
6. Failure to Document Issues with Odometers or GPS Technology
The flow of information that leads to your desk needs to be working for you to stand a chance of completing and filing an accurate IFTA quarterly report. If one or more of the trucks in your fleet has a bad odometer or you use GPS software to track mileage and it goes on the fritz, then your data will be full of errors straight from the source.
Trust but verify is a good rule to follow when it comes to technology. Whether you are old-school and go by the odometers in your fleet’s units or you use the latest software solutions to streamline the job, it’s important to check-in regularly to make sure things are working the way they’re supposed to.
7. Doing Your Quarterly IFTA Report By Hand
Let’s assume that none of the problems related to forgetting to file or failing to file on time apply to you. Let’s also assume that all the drivers in your fleet keep accurate paper records and turn them into your office on time. So, you don’t have any problems getting the report completed and turned in on time with accurate information.
If you’re doing that work by hand, you working harder when you should be working smarter. Never mind the added benefit of more accurate reporting that you get when you use software. The time that you spend filing by hand is time that you could be doing other things to help your fleet that technology can’t do for you.
8. Using Non-Compliant Software
There is plenty of software out there that claims to be IFTA-compliant. Telematics software, GPS systems, and even ELDs. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case even though they claim it is. Make sure to double-check whether the software your fleet uses is running IFTA approved calculations. You don’t want to find out too late that you put your trust in the wrong tools for the job.
Avoid the Common Mistakes That Other Fleets Make on Quarterly IFTA Reports
When you use FleetPal Connect to help your fleet manage its preventive maintenance program, you get a software solution that was built to integrate with other powerful tools that serve the trucking industry. FleetPal integrates with ELDs, Telematics Software, and GPS technology.
When you combine the power of FleetPal with software that tracks your fleet’s mileage, you’ll get useful data on fuel efficiency that will help you make better decisions about your fleet’s bottom line. If you’re ready to take advantage of software that will help you work smarter instead of harder, give us a call so we can show you what the FleetPal platform has to offer.