This year there are four proposals to amend the International Fuel Tax Agreement. Three of them are probably of limited interest to motor carriers, but the other, which has to do with IFTA’s rules for audit and record keeping, should be of great interest to the industry.
That amendment is the third (FTPBP #3-2014 in IFTA’s code for these things). It’s sponsored by IFTA’s Audit Committee, and represents several years of work by representatives of IFTA’s member jurisdictions and of the trucking industry, including this writer. This amendment also represents a more or less complete rewrite and rearrangement of IFTA’s provisions in these two areas.
One of the goals of the project was to make IFTA’s rules in this regard as close as possible to those of the International Registration Plan following that organization’s similar effort, which went into effect last year. Like IRP’s, then, IFTA’s new rules on record keeping are somewhat more flexible for carriers, allowing them to maintain their records in any format that allows an audit to be done, and specifically accommodating records created in part through the use of GPS or some similar vehicle-tracking technology.
Provided a carrier’s records are of the quantity and quality necessary for an audit to be done, the jurisdiction doing the audit may not impose a general penalty for bad records – although of course audit adjustments may still be made that may increase the carrier’s tax liability. In the main, the proposed IFTA rules for auditing distance are to be the same as those in effect on the IRP side. Few changes are proposed with respect to the rules for fuel records, however, as these were on the whole found to be satisfactory as they stand currently.
In addition to these changes, and incidental revisions of IFTA language to make it clearer, the project largely rewrote the IFTA Audit Manual, which provides the states and provinces guidance on audit programs and their auditors with procedures for auditing specific situations. These changes, it is hoped, will make IFTA audits on the whole somewhat more uniform, and prevent some questionable practices by a few states.
This is an amendment industry should strongly support.
The other three ballots are as follows:
FTPBP #1 would change the cycle for IFTA program compliance (peer) reviews of the states and provinces from five years to four. If anything, this is a positive change, since it may help to ensure that instances of noncompliance with IFTA’s rules on the part of a state or province will have less time to become significant.
FTPBP #2, like No. 1, is sponsored by IFTA’s Program Compliance Review Committee. No. 2 would make a state’s noncompliance with (a) IFTA requirements to provide information to carriers or (b) the requirement for IFTA base-state audits even-handed for all jurisdictions grounds to take the offending state to IFTA Dispute Resolution Committee for potential disciplinary measures. Since we believe that all issues of noncompliance ought to be subject to such measures, we’re for this one too.
FTPBP #4, sponsored by IFTA’s Audit Committee, would make a definitional change that affects slightly the scope of an IFTA audit. From industry’s point of view, this seems wholly a technical change.
All these ballots are posted on IFTA’s website, at www.iftach.org, under IFTA Ballot Proposals, and are open for public comment through June 12. After that, they’ll be discussed at IFTA’s annual business meeting in August, and, if they survive that, will go out for a second comment period before being voted on this fall by the IFTA membership. ATA expects to file comments on the ballots during the first and possibly also the second period.