• ITVI.USA
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    -16.050
    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.040
    -0.040
    -0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,887.180
    -17.040
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  • TLT.USA
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
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    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
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    -0.1%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.040
    -0.040
    -0.2%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,887.180
    -17.040
    -0.1%
  • TLT.USA
    2.640
    -0.010
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  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.480
    0.060
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  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.190
    0.050
    2.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.400
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    14.8%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
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  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.440
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  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
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  • WAIT.USA
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BusinessEquipmentNewsTruckingTrucking Regulation

Group seeking to suspend excise tax on truck purchases pushes on in stimulus negotiations

The broad coalition behind the “Suspend the FET” (federal excise tax) initiative continues to push for its inclusion in whatever pandemic-fighting stimulus package emerges from current negotiations on Capitol Hill.

The idea behind suspending the FET on new truck sales is that such a step will spur sales of vehicles. The list of benefits that the advocates of the suspension tout is a long one: increased manufacturing activity to spur job creation (or retention); more trucks on the road with the latest safety equipment; better fleet fuel mileage; and a number of environmental benefits from displacing older trucks with new, cleaner ones. 

The federal excise tax on trucks is 12%. The Auto Dealers Association has said it is the highest excise tax applied by Congress on the sale of any product.

Mike Joyce is the spokesman for the Modernize the Truck Fleet Coalition. It includes the American Truck Dealers and its parent, the National Automobile Dealers Association. They’ve been at the forefront of the push. But the coalition also includes engine manufacturers such as Cummins, trucking companies like Werner and trade associations, including the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Truckload Carriers Association.

While so much of the media focus has been on issues such as extending unemployment benefits, Joyce said the coalition has “continued to focus on those key members in the Congressional leadership,” making their pitch to suspend the tax. The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have been particularly targeted, as any tax-writing changes go through those panels. 

But Joyce said the two chambers’ respective environmental and commerce committees have also been targets. “We do continue to educate lawmakers and we will continue to do so as the House, Senate and White House continue to negotiate,” Joyce said. 

ATA report cited projecting 60% of fleets would make new purchases

The stimulative arguments being pushed by the coalition on suspending the FET have at the heart of it the sort of data found in a recent survey from the ATA: “60% of fleets would be either somewhat likely or very likely to buy additional trucks and trailers beyond currently scheduled purchases.”

The numbers on current production are horrendous. ACT Research reported in June that about 13,500 Class 8 trucks were sold that month, 43.2% less than the prior year. In April, the U.S. built about 2,500 trucks, the lowest in the history of ACT Research’s data going back to 1979.

What the coalition does not have yet in the Senate is somebody like Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH), who has led the charge for Suspend the FET, even though there is no obvious tie for him. His district does not include a truck production facility. 

Pappas was in early on the issue and is the primary signer of a recent letter to Congressional leadership, urging suspension of the FET through 2021. That letter had 55 signers, all of them Democrats.

“Suspension of the 12% FET on new heavy duty-trucks and trailers during this critical time could help fleets purchase new trucks and trailers, support U.S. truck and trailer manufacturing, supplier and dealership jobs, and advance our goals of improving highway safety and reducing emissions.” the letter said. “We urge you to suspend the FET until the end of 2021 in upcoming coronavirus legislation as the best and fastest way to help save or restore trucking-related jobs and jumpstart the economic recovery of this vital sector.”

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

2 Comments

  1. This is a very bad idea will just make a bigger surplus of trucks
    A much better idea is minimum wage and freight rates instead of more trucks and more low wage foreign truck drivers. The government definitely can’t afford this with many states reduced hospital staff and more cuts on the way to paramedic program in some states
    A better idea would to plan affordable apartments and affordable health care

  2. I Agree 100% take FET out and it would drive new truck sales up tremendously and we would automatically have more new and safer equipment out on our highways, cleaner running trucks and safer trucks, I personally know a lot of customers that would buy new trucks but FET tax holds them back from moving forward with the purchase of a brand new truck.

    Mario S. Mejia

    Sacramento CA.

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