Federal grant to help crackdown on heavy vehicle use tax evasion

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Gov. Andy Beshear today announced the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet have been awarded a $395,000 federal grant for a joint project to combat a form of tax evasion by heavy commercial trucks.

“Operators of commercial vehicles must pay their fair share for use of our public roads and bridges,” Gov. Beshear said. “Anything less is unfair to conscientious, law-abiding operators and to taxpayers who ultimately pay for our transportation system.”

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The bulk of the grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation $250,000 will fund equipment, training and execution of an enforcement blitz by officers of the Kentucky State Polices Division of Commercial Vehicle Enforcement (CVE) and auditors of the KYTC Division of Motor Carriers and Division of Road Fund Audits.

The plan is to conduct enforcement blitzes at weigh stations and along bypass routes secondary roads used by unscrupulous carriers to circumvent weigh stations.

The two agencies have worked together for years to identify and locate major violators.

However, the grant will help increase enforcement in the form of strategic blitzes, instead of funding routine, ongoing enforcement.

“Enforcement blitzes have been used many times and have proven to be a cost-effective way to recover millions of dollars in late taxes,” said CVE Maj. Nathan Day.

The other part of the grant $145,000 will fund a comprehensive study aimed at making it easier for authorities to verify carriers’ tax status.

“Verification is a challenge for state administrators who process commercial vehicle registrations,” said Matt Cole, Commissioner of the KYTC Department of Vehicle Regulation.

Online tax filing and verification is a complex process that involves not just the carriers but also dozens of vendors of tax-filing software, multiple taxing and credentialing agencies and often inadequate, poor-quality data.

Generally speaking, the greater the complexity, the greater the chance of tax evasion.

To that point, KYTC plans to partner with the Kentucky Transportation Center at the University of Kentucky to analyze current verification processes both interstate and intrastate and investigate potential technology and policy solutions.

Researchers ultimately will produce a report with recommended best practices.