by Christi Collins, ACPA Executive DIrector

Similar to sales tax, highway federal excise taxes (FET) are paid when purchases are made for specific goods, such as diesel fuel and truck chassis. There are also excise taxes on certain activities, such as on highway usage by trucks. Revenues collected from FET are designated to help support the Highway Trust Fund, which finances most federal government spending for highways and mass transit.


Not all highway vehicles are subject to FET. The IRS allows exemptions for various types of vehicles meeting specified criteria. The exemption that applies to concrete pumps is defined in the U.S. Tax Code > Title 26 > Subtitle D > Chapter 31 > Subchapter C > § 4053 (8) Mobile Machinery (MME).

No tax shall be imposed on any vehicle which consists of a chassis—

(A) to which there has been permanently mounted (by welding, bolting, riveting, or other means) machinery or equipment to perform a construction, manufacturing, processing, farming, mining, drilling, timbering, or similar operation if the operation of the machinery or equipment is unrelated to transportation on or off the public highways,

(B) which has been specially designed to serve only as a mobile carriage and mount (and a power source, where applicable) for the particular machinery or equipment involved, whether or not such machinery or equipment is in operation, and

(C) which, by reason of such special design, could not, without substantial structural modification, be used as a component of a vehicle designed to perform a function of transporting any load other than that particular machinery or equipment or similar machinery or equipment requiring such a specially designed chassis.


Because the IRS recognizes concrete pumps as meeting the threepart test application as defined above, they are exempt from these three excises which would normally apply to highway vehicles.

(1) Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT). This is a yearly tax imposed on vehicles operating on public highways with a gross weight of 55,000 pounds or more. The tax is calculated and reported on IRS Tax Form 2290 and typically ranges from $350 to $550 per truck, depending on weight. Many DOT offices are not familiar with the MME and will demand proof of filing Federal Form 2290 and paying HVUT before issuing a license for your concrete pump. Concrete pumps are EXEMPT from HVU taxes and a 2290 tax form should not be filed.

(2) Retail Excise Tax. This is a 12 percent tax charged on the chassis portion of a truck unit upon the first retail sale. Concrete pump chassis are EXEMPT from this tax.

(3) Fuel Excise Tax. This exemption only applies if your concrete pump traveled less than 7,500 miles in a calendar year. The amount of refund for each unit traveling less than 7,500 miles per year is 100 percent of the total tax paid on the unit in a calendar year. If the unit traveled 7,500 miles or more in a calendar year, the exemption does not apply.


Below are some examples of when you can—and cannot—apply for the fuel tax rebate/refund. Keep in mind the 7,500-mile threshold starts and stops within a calendar year, regardless of your company’s fiscal year-end date.

  • A concrete pump travels less than 7,500 miles in a calendar year—you are entitled to 100 percent of the total fuel tax paid on this unit for the year.

  • You own a concrete pump for the entire year and the unit traveled more than 7,500 miles—no refund allowed.

  • A concrete pump consumed over 50 percent of its fuel while in PTO operation, but also traveled more than 7,500 miles in a calendar year—no refund allowed.

  • You purchased or sold a concrete pump in a calendar year and it traveled less than 7,500 miles within the calendar year during the time of your ownership—you are entitled to 100 percent of the total fuel tax paid on this unit within the calendar year.

  • You own several concrete pumps. “Brand X” concrete pump traveled more than 7,500 miles for the calendar year. However, another concrete pump, “Brand Y,” traveled less than 7,500 miles. Therefore, “Brand Y” qualifies for the 100 percent refund of the unit’s total fuel tax paid in the calendar year. On the other hand, “Brand X” does not qualify because it traveled over 7,500 miles in the calendar year.


While some states may allow a refund on the amount paid when a concrete pump is in PTO operation, currently there is no provision for federal exemption of PTO-consumed fuel.

It is also important to note that if your pump qualifies for the fuel tax exemption and you apply for the rebate/refund, you should be prepared to provide auditable documentation of your unit’s mileage, such as data obtained from a hubometer, GPS or the ECM unit of the truck(s), as well as fuel receipts.

If you have been contacted by the IRS for failure to pay Retail Excise Tax, have a problem licensing your units without filing a 2290 form, or need more information, contact Christi Collins at the ACPA National Office.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.