How do you know you have proper distance records for IFTA?

Many motor carriers know they must report miles traveled for IFTA, but are not sure of the best way to go about it from a compliance perspective.

How do you know you have the required distance records for IFTA? What is an acceptable distance accounting system for IFTA?

In this article, you’ll learn electronic and manual distance accounting systems where motor carriers are recording their miles, and the proper way to do so.

There are a few ways to come up with your miles per state that are acceptable by your state or province. However, if you get audited there is only one correct way. If you are not recording your miles this correct way, then you must make sure you have a paper trail to prove the mileage you have submitted.

In the past you may have been recording your miles in these ways, and maybe you still are, but some of these practices can be disastrous in an audit:

  • Recording your miles per state by calculating miles using maps based on the destinations your loads need to go.
  • Recording only the total mileage of a long trip from the start to endpoint regardless of the number of loads delivered in between.
  • Submitting what you thought you ran for mileage
  • Simply calculating your miles by using the fuel you purchase or your MPG

There are also some that may have filed miles per state using GPS systems or AOBRDs (Automatic Onboard Recording Devices)

In the last eight months, some ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) or e-logs have recorded your IFTA mileage for you. It is important to note here that not all ELDs will record IFTA mileage. We repeat: HOS mileages does not equal IFTA mileage.

So, how do you know what way is correct?

Let’s look at the details…

Manual or paper distance accounting system

Before electronic systems became the norm and ELDs were mandated, motor carriers were able to file all their compliance work on paper.

Today for IFTA you can keep track of miles on paper. However, to make things easier and get accurate mileage and fuel information, fuel cards for fuel data and GPS or AOBRDs or ELDs for mileage data are the way to avoid having to do anything on paper. It simplifies IFTA compliance work.

When you are writing down your mileage information, a trip sheet or the individual vehicle mileage record (IVMR) are the ways to do it. If you are looking at what you need to include on your trip sheet, keep scrolling down.

Electronic distance accounting system

Electronic systems in the motor carrier industry will facilitate the movement of data to manage your businesses effectively.

For mileage, you have various options to keep records of it electronically. The most popular has been commercial GPS systems for motor carriers. Tracking systems or AOBRDs that monitor your trucks in real-time are also very useful for IFTA compliance. ELDs are most recent devices, due to legislation.

Keep in mind that any electronic device you use for recording mileages has to match your operations. If it can do more than one main task you want, all the better.

One important aspect when it comes to IFTA compliance that you must know is that the device you choose must ping every 15 minutes or less. If there are gaps in your mileage data pinging of more than 15 minutes, then the device is not IFTA compliant.

How do you know your distance accounting system or mileage recording process is not missing any miles?

Does your electronic system alert you or can you tell by reviewing your data that there are gaps or missing miles?

Can you reconstruct or come up with the missing mileage for your quarterly IFTA report and an audit?

Here is what you need to ensure your distance accounting system is compliant for IFTA

For a paper or manual distance accounting system, the best way is by using trip sheets or individual vehicle mileage records (IVMR). In any of these two reports or forms you must include:

  • the starting and ending dates of the trip
  • the origin and destination points of each trip including city and state
  • the routes of travel and/or beginning and ending odometer readings
  • the total trip miles or kilometer
  • the distance by jurisdiction and/or odometer readings at each jurisdiction line
  • vehicle number
  • and licensee’s name

For an Electronic distance accounting system, the best way is to use a device that pings every 15 minutes or less and that it can provide you with a CSV file format of the miles per state or pings. Any electronic device that tracks vehicles must include:

  • the original GPS or other location data for the vehicle to which the records pertain
  • the date and time of each GPS (ping) or other system reading at intervals of 15 minutes or less to validate the total distance travelled in each jurisdiction
  • the location of each GPS or other system reading
  • the beginning and ending reading from the odometer, hubometer, engine control module (ECM), or any similar device for the period to which the records pertain
  • the calculated distance between each GPS (ping) or other system reading
  • the route of the vehicle’s travel
  • the total distance travelled in each jurisdiction
  • and the vehicle identification number or vehicle unit number

Auditors will look at how these devices work and record data. Once the systems have been reviewed and understood, they will then review the data. Records that are sufficient and appropriate are considered adequate by auditors. If you include the information above in your mileage records then these will be adequate.

At the end of the day, odometer readings from either electronic systems or paper record keeping are critical to IFTA officials in an audit if the MPG cannot be trusted.

eTruxFuel has been built to include odometer readings. However, if you do not have odometer readings, you can still enter only the miles per state or kilometer per province. eTruxFuel can also come up with any missing miles through a feature that integrates with PCMiler.

Let’s tighten up your distance accounting processes, make sure your mileage is correct and keep IFTA easy with eTruxFuel.

If you still need help with IFTA such as what is IFTA, how IFTA works, or how to apply for IFTA. Please visit our What is IFTA page.

If you would like more information about your heavy highway use tax report please visit our help page.

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