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Trucking Groups Ask Congress to Repeal Heavy Duty Federal Excise Tax

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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The Federal Excise Tax was first enacted by Congress in 1917 to help fund World War I and is the highest excise tax on a percentage basis that Congress levies on a product, adding 12% to the cost of a new truck. (DTN photo by Mary Kennedy)

MINNEAPOLIS (DTN) -- A group of transportation and trucking stakeholders sent a letter to Congress Feb. 22 asking for a repeal of the Federal Excise Tax on heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

"The Federal Excise Tax (FET) on heavy-duty trucks is an outdated revenue source that disproportionately burdens small businesses and dampens demand for emerging technologies like electric vehicles," noted the letter from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), American Truck Dealers (ATD) and Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA).

"The heavy-duty excise tax was established in 1917 to defray the costs of World War I and today adds 12% to the cost of a new truck, creating a major disincentive for trucking fleets small and large to modernize their equipment and replace older tractors with new, low-emission power units. The FET can add more than $50,000 to the price of the latest low- or zero-emission vehicle, making these investments cost-prohibitive for smaller fleets. Over 90% of U.S. motor carriers operate six or fewer trucks," noted the ATA on their website.

"If Congress is serious about safety, the environment and jobs, then repealing the FET should be front-burner," said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. "It's time to shelve this World War I era tax and start putting the best equipment on our roads."

"The federal government wants heavy-duty trucks to be cleaner or emission free, but slaps a 12% tax on the newest, greenest trucks. If the goal is to reduce emissions, repealing the counterproductive FET is a good place to start," said Scott McCandless, ATD Chairman and President of McCandless Truck Center LLC of Aurora, Colo.

"The federal excise tax harms American truckers and fleet operators by inflating the cost of heavy-duty trucks and limiting access to the many economic and public health benefits that come with transportation electrification," said Albert Gore, executive director at ZETA. "Medium and heavy-duty trucks account for 24% of all transportation carbon emissions in the United States but represent only 4% of vehicles on the road."

Gore added, "It is time to accelerate our movement toward modernized transportation fleets, and we must enable our nation's fleet operators and truckers to join in this effort."

A copy of the Feb. 22 letter sent to leaders of the U.S. Senate and House is available here:…

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