The Highway Use Tax (“HUT”) is a tax on motor carriers who operate certain motor vehicles (mostly trucks) on New York State public highways.
For purposes of HUT liability, “motor vehicle” is defined any: truck, tractor, or other self-propelled device, and any trailer, semi-trailer, or dolly, or other device that is drawn having a gross weight, alone or in combination with another motor vehicle, trailer, semi-trailer, dolly, or other device of more than 18,000 pounds, truck having an unloaded weight of more than 8,000 pounds, and tractor having an unloaded weight of more than 4,000 pounds. Some “motor vehicles” are excluded (buses, highway construction and maintenance vehicles) and others are exempt (emergency, farm and recreational).
Gross weight means:
- the unloaded weight of the truck, tractor, or other self-propelled vehicle; plus
- the unloaded weight of the heaviest trailer, semitrailer, dolly, or other device to be drawn by that motor vehicle; plus
- the maximum load to be carried or drawn by the motor vehicle.
Gross weight excludes the weight of the driver and a helper. For a tow truck, it excludes the weight of any vehicle that is being towed partly or wholly upon the towed vehicle’s own wheels. Gross weight of a flatbed tow truck must include the weight of the heaviest vehicle being transported on the bed of the truck.
Unloaded weight means the actual weight of the motor vehicle, including:
- all equipment necessary for its performance as a vehicle,
- all equipment necessary for its safety,
- all equipment permanently attached to the vehicle,
- all equipment used exclusively for the protection of its load,
- all equipment used exclusively for loading or unloading the vehicle, and
- the weight of full fuel tank(s) used to propel the vehicle. The weight of the driver and a helper is not included.
The tax is based on mileage traveled on New York State public highways (excluding toll-paid portions of the New York State Thruway) and is computed at a rate determined by the weight of the motor vehicle and the method that you choose to report the tax.
Before operating a motor vehicle on the public highways of New York State, you must obtain a certificate of registration for each motor vehicle subject to the highway use tax. Also, you must affix a decal to each motor vehicle that is required to have a certificate of registration.
If your vehicles only make limited trips in New York State, instead of registering, obtaining a decal, and filing highway use tax returns, you can get a trip certificate of registration (up to 10 per year) for a small fee.
If you do not comply with the Highway Use Tax Law, you may be subject to civil or criminal penalties. For a first offense, you are subject to a fine. However, for a second or subsequent offense, you are subject to a higher fine plus up to 10 days in jail.