A truck-only vehicle miles tax represents double taxation on the industry that moves America
In February, news of a serious congressional proposal to establish a vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax for trucks took the industry by surprise. While the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and our counterparts were aware that general VMT proposals were being floated as a way to pay for massive infrastructure investments through the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization bill, up to that point, talks had generally centered on a VMT for all vehicles. This new truck-only VMT plan, while potentially coupled with proposals about a tax on electric vehicles and indexing the federal fuel tax to inflation, was a non-starter.
Good news came in early March when the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), spoke out against the truck-only VMT. His spokesman stated, “Chairman Grassley tested the concept among members and did not find support for a vehicle mileage tax.” Chairman Grassley would ultimately control which funding mechanisms are used for infrastructure investment, and so his reluctance to pursue a truck-only VMT is very encouraging.
However, TCA is aware that VMT supporters continue to push their plan and seek backing in the Senate. In response, TCA sent a letter to both the Senate Finance Committee and the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee urging members not to move forward with this proposal. The letter highlighted the fact that a truck-only VMT would be devastating to the small business-centric trucking community as it is unlikely that the federal fuel tax would be phased out before this VMT would go into effect, resulting in an onerous dual taxation scheme.
Furthermore, the inequality posed by a VMT scheme singling out trucks would represent an unfair added cost to the industry which literally drives the nation’s economy. Particularly in this time of increased global economic insecurity, it would be counterproductive to place an unwarranted burden on the very companies responsible for delivering the food we consume, the gasoline that powers our cars, and the medicines we need to stay alive.
TCA will continue to push for Congress to adopt a broad-based infrastructure funding mechanism to support the maintenance and construction of sorely needed highways and bridges in this country. We believe increasing the federal fuel tax and indexing it to inflation continues to represent the best option, and we will ensure legislators hear this message loud and clear.