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[Author: Mark Othmer, 09.2016 | Keywords: Nebraska Field Notes, Header Trailer, Seed Tender]

One topic that always seems to generate questions from dealers and their customers is, “How does the state of Nebraska view header trailers and seed tenders when considering sales tax, titling, registering and licensing?” Recently, I’ve had several discussions with officials at the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles, Nebraska Department of Revenue and the Nebraska State Patrol. While I’m not sure if I fully understand all of the laws, I will attempt to guide you on how best to handle issues with customers when selling header trailers and seed tenders. While this will by no means be a perfect explanation, it will hopefully get you pointed in the right direction.

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, the best way to handle the sale of header trailers and seed tenders is to become a licensed trailer dealer. As a licensed trailer dealer, you will be able to issue a Form 6 to the customer at the time of the sale, keep a copy for your records, and advise him/her to proceed to the local county courthouse where he/she will be required to register and license the product. The county will also collect any sales tax due at that time. This process relieves you, the dealer, from the responsibility of collecting sales tax and leaves the discussion of taxability between the customer and county officials.

If a trailer is pulled by a licensed vehicle (most notably a pickup), the trailer is required to be registered and licensed. According to Nebraska statutes, it appears that registering it as a “farm trailer” is the best option for your customer. A farm trailer is defined in section 60-114 of state statutes as “a trailer or semi-trailer belonging to a farmer or rancher and used wholly and exclusively to carry supplies to or from the owner’s farm or ranch, used by a farmer or rancher to carry his or her own agricultural products to storage or market, or used by a farmer or rancher for hauling of supplies or agricultural products in exchange of services.”

Furthermore, as explained in Chapter 3-Trailers-3-3 of the Registration manual, “farm trailers are not required to be titled, but may be titled at the OPTION of the owner.”

Proof of ownership of a trailer may be supported by a bill of sale for a trailer which has not been registered, as stated in Chapter 1-Titles-1-17 of the Nebraska Title manual. Both the Title manual and the Registration manual mentioned in this paragraph are available online at dmv.nebraska.gov. If you or your customer encounter any problems at the local county courthouse, having a copy of each of these manuals at your disposal will help guide the public official (most likely a county treasurer) through the process. It is not surprising that this issue is confusing to county officials, so please be patient when encountering a problem. Encouraging them to engage with DMV employees at the State level will be very helpful to you, your customer and the county official.

Often, I am asked if brakes and turn signals are required on these types of trailers. I turned to the Nebraska State Patrol with this question and received a very simple answer. “If the farm plated trailer is licensed in Nebraska and pulled by a Nebraska farm plated power unit with a registered weight of 16 tons or less, then we would enforce Nebraska State Statute 60-6,246 (brake requirements) and 60-6,226 (lighting requirements) for this trailer.” Nebraska State Statute 60-6,246 states that trailers with a carrying capacity of more than 10,000 pounds and semitrailers must be equipped with brakes. In addition, 60-6,226 requires that trailers be equipped with brake and turn signal lights in good working order. If this trailer is being towed by a farm plated power unit with a registered weight of more than 16 tons or a commercial plated vehicle, then we would enforce the requirements found in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Part 9393.42(b)(3) states that trailers with a gross weight of 3,000 pounds or less (which are subject to this part) are not required to be equipped with brakes if the sum of the axle weights of the towed vehicle does not exceed 40 percent of the sum of the axle weights of the towing vehicle. All other trailers must have brakes. In addition to this, part 393.11 (lamps and reflective devices) of the FMCSRs require that trailers have the appropriate lighting (brakes, turn signals, tail lamps, and etc.) to ensure safe operation.

As you can see, the regulations take a decided step up when towing a trailer with commercial plates or a farm plated vehicle of 16 tons or more. That’s why I suggest your farming customers plate their trailers and farm trailers. Your dealership does not have this option. Any trailer you use will be plated commercially and will fall under FMCSRs.

As always, if you encounter issues with other retailers not following proper procedures or misinforming your customer, please bring it to my attention. I may be able to help. Don’t hesitate to call if you encounter any problems or a customer encounters issues while attempting to register or license a trailer. I can put you in touch with the correct authorities in Lincoln to remedy the problem.

About the Author

Mark Othmer

For nearly 20 years, Mark has traveled across Nebraska calling on members. A “regular” at the State Capitol, Mark keeps his finger on the pulse of legislative issues affecting members. When he’s not driving across Nebraska, Mark can be found golfing, cheering on the Nebraska Cornhuskers and spending lazy afternoons at the family farm.