Legalization and Fleet Services Streamline Regulatory Compliance
Penske's Fleet Services and Operating Tax groups take the complexity out of the regulatory requirements commercial fleets encounter, enabling motor carriers to focus on their core business while remaining compliant with their federal, state, provincial and local tax obligations. Plus, Penske is always working behind the scenes to stay abreast of tax and vehicle legalization requirements in the U.S. and Canada so customers can remain in compliance even as the regulatory landscape changes.
"There are significant requirements and burdens associated with being in regulatory compliance," said Richard Harris, vice president, operating tax at Penske Truck Leasing. "We bring a broad and experienced array of expertise to this area."
As a nationwide focus centers on our crumbling infrastructure, legislative activity post-COVID is rapid. "Staying abreast, and even having a voice, in these new regulations and laws is where Penske excels, providing that new knowledge and the requisite compliance requirements to our customers," said Jeff Spiegel, vice president, fleet services and operating tax at Penske Truck Leasing.
At the lead of governments initiatives are highway and bridge funding and zero-emission programs. These take many forms, including the California mandates for increased regulation on greenhouse emissions, new carbon tax laws in Canada, pilot projects and new regulations encompassing mileage-based user fees, congestion pricing and bridge tolls, and the weight distance tax recently signed into law in Connecticut.
"In fact, many states are modeling many of their clean air initiatives around California," said Lauree Tranquillo, director of tax compliance and systems at Penske Truck Leasing. "This is something we are watching very closely."
Penske's licensing services for contract equipment can streamline the licensing process for customers. "Registering a commercial vehicle in North America can be complex. We have a whole team that manages these intricacies," said Benjamin Brewer, senior manager, fleet services compliance programs at Penske Truck Leasing. "Plates arrive seamlessly based on the information provided by our customers and through the sophisticated systems and processes in place."
Penske has self-issuance of license plates in many jurisdictions and houses thousands of license plates at its headquarters. "That allows us to register a vehicle literally within minutes and make sure that vehicle is operational as quickly as it can be," Harris said. "We can do weight increases and decreases, transfer plates and get replacements all online. It expedites the process."
That was incredibly valuable during COVID when many state or regional government offices closed or had limited availability. "One of the things that came out in the pandemic was the decrease in services at the jurisdictional level," Harris said. "We were able to help, and we don't see this landscape changing any time soon."
Customers can quickly obtain replacement copies of credentials and registration cab cards through our Fleet Insight portal. "They can print, place it with the vehicle and move on," said Charles Ledig, director of fleet services legalization at Penske Truck Leasing.
Fuel and Mileage Tax Reporting
As part of its services, Penske can handle fuel and mileage tax reporting. "We capture where you drove your miles and where you purchased your fuel. The distance is where tax should be allocated, and the fuel receipt is where your credit comes from," Brewer said. "How to collect that information can follow several methods, but telematics is increasingly the preferred approach."
The distance records also ensure that customers receive the benefits of only paying an apportioned amount of their property taxes, creating significant savings for many customers, Tranquillo said.
When it comes to collecting information electronically, Penske will work with several telematics providers. "There are literally hundreds of options for GPS or telematics devices in the U.S. We are agnostic and make it seamless for our customers," Brewer said, adding that Penske has already integrated with a broad array of devices and is willing to work with new vendors.
Drivers can also use the Penske Driver™ app to take photographs and upload receipts, automatically routing the image where it needs to go. What's more, if customers use Penske's fuel purchasing program, they don't have to submit receipts because there is already a record in Penske's system.
Penske then normalizes all the information into one type of record and files returns for customers. The system uses various algorithms and programming to identify missing information. "It can be a challenge, and we put a lot of energy and effort into it. It is better to find out something is missing before an audit," Ledig said.
Penske's audit staff can help guide customers through the fuel and distance and IFTA audit processes. "An audit can present many challenges for a transportation company," said Joan Smith, director, operating tax, for Penske Truck Leasing.
Smith said many customers have never been audited before, and they look to Penske for information and guidance. "We retain documentation provided by our customers to prepare their fuel and distance tax returns. In an audit, we can provide that information to an auditor and walk our customers through the process," she said.
All Penske full-service lease and contract maintenance customers can view their current fuel and distance compliance status at any point in Fleet Insight™.
Penske can also provide information to customers concerning possible exemptions from indirect taxes by directing them to resources that can assist them in determining their eligibility.
For more information on how Penske can help customers navigate fuel and distance compliance and other regulatory requirements, call Penske Fleet Services at 800-526-0664.