Lawmakers push to nix truck tax hike

Jason Cannon

September 17, 2013

Legislation currently in the U.S. House of Representatives is designed to throw cold water on a proposed 12 percent Federal Excise Tax (FET) applicable toward the purchase of trucks and trailers.

The tax spike had been seen as a potential cash boost for the Highway Trust Fund, but the resolution points out that truck prices have spiked in recent years. An additional tax would put an increased burden on the marketplace and drive up the cost of a truck upwards of $30,000, potentially doing more harm than good by adding “uncertainty and volatility to the Highway Trust Fund.”

“…the Federal excise tax on new truck tractors, medium and heavy-duty trucks, and certain truck trailers should not be increased, and in considering future transportation policy, Congress should carefully review the detrimental impacts of the Federal excise tax,” the bill reads.

The Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) has thrown their support behind the bill introduced by Representatives Reid Ribble, (R-WI) and Tim Walz, (D-MN).

“While TRALA supports a robust, well-funded Highway Trust Fund (HTF), the FET on trucks and trailers is an ineffective and volatile means of funding the HTF,” The agency said through a statement. “The availability of FET monies to fund the Highway Trust Fund is closely tied to the economy and cycles in truck and trailer purchasing.  This results in an unpredictable flow of funds into the HTF, which is detrimental to many road and bridge construction planning processes.”

TRALA says its members are responsible for purchasing and registering between 35-40 percent of all the trucks put into commercial service in the U.S. every year.

Dick Witcher, chairman of the American Truck Dealers (ATD) and a Massachusetts International and Ford truck dealer, says the existing 12 percent levy on heavy duty trucks is already the highest excise tax imposed by Congress on a percentage basis, and that the FET adds thousands of dollars to a commercial truck that already costs well over $100,000.

“Since all the heavy-duty trucks sold in the U.S. in 2012 were manufactured in North America, increasing the FET would hurt the 3.65 million Americans employed in the selling, servicing, manufacturing and operating of these vehicles,” he says.

“The federal excise tax deters business owners and other employers from purchasing some of the safest, cleanest and most fuel-efficient trucks available today.” Ribble says. “I hope my colleagues will agree that this tax should not be increased.”

“The trucking industry creates good-paying American jobs for countless folks across this country,” Walz added. “Increasing this tax would further discourage hardworking business owners from purchasing new trucks that are safer, more efficient and better for our environment. At a time when our economy is still continuing to recover, we should be doing all we can to ensure businesses have the tools they need to be successful, instead of creating roadblocks to their growth.”

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