Fuel tax gets support stateside

ARLINGTON, Va. — While politicians search for new ways to drum up funding for highway projects, the American Trucking Associations is sticking by the fuel tax method.

Barbara Windsor, second vice-chair of the ATA, recently appeared before the House Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, House Committee on Ways and Means, and informed the committee that the federal fuel tax remains the most cost-effective way to fund essential highway infrastructure projects.

Windsor stated that an increase in the fuel tax — with the additional revenue invested in projects and programs that address national highway infrastructure needs — is by far the best way to ensure sufficient funding for highway projects over the near term.

“With collection costs at just 0.2 percent of revenue, no alternative funding schemes can match the efficiency or equitability of the federal fuel tax,” said Windsor, president and CEO of Hahn Transportation, based in New Market, Md.

She added that highway funding schemes like tolling, vehicle miles traveled taxes or public-private partnerships do not stand up to the criteria for viable highway funding and provide a minimal return on the highway user’s investment.

Specifically the ATA maintains support for the federal fuel tax because it offers minimal opportunity for evasion; can be collected and enforced without imposing excessive administrative and recordkeeping burdens on highway members; is based currently on
readily verifiable measure of highway and vehicle use; remains uniform in application among classes of highway users; and does not create impediments to interstate commerce.

According to the ATA, trucking pays 33 percent of state and federal highway user fees, but logs just 14.4 percent of annual vehicle miles traveled on highways. In addition to the federal fuel tax, trucks contribute to the system through a Heavy Vehicle Use Tax paid on all trucks above 55,000 pounds, a sales tax on all trucks and trailers, and a tire tax paid on all tires sold by manufacturers, producers or importers.

Windsor also said that the climate and energy legislation recently passed in the House is likely to significantly increase the cost of fuel.

The increase would impose significant costs on American consumers and jeopardize the ability of the trucking industry to fund both the highway infrastructure that is greatly needed and also absorb the added costs to fuel brought by climate and energy legislation.

It is important to note that improving highway infrastructure will decrease fuel consumption and carbon output by both cars and trucks, she added.

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