Opinion: Trucking Is Still Overtaxed
This Opinion piece appears in the Nov. 12 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
By Matthew Bowles
National Fleet Services LLC
This column is an update of one I wrote for this publication a half-dozen years ago under the headline “Trucking Is Overtaxed” (2-6-06, p. 9). As the only slightly altered headline above says, taxes still cost the trucking industry far too much.
In fact, legislative and regulatory changes since 2006 suggest that revisiting the topic would be worthwhile as we try to understand why federal and state tax liabilities continue to rise more rapidly for the trucking industry than for the air and rail carriers with which it competes.
For starters, motor carriers do not enjoy some of the benefits offered to air and rail carriers as a result of Federal Law 49 U.S.C., which can reduce income and operating taxes imposed at the federal and state levels. Furthermore, motor carriers face increasing permitting, registration and compliance costs.
Whether your company is a private, common or contract carrier, you pay operating taxes even when you are losing money. These taxes include excise, sales, use, motor fuel, property and franchise taxes, plus unemployment compensation, unclaimed property and registration and permitting fees.
All these operating taxes and fees come after the motor carrier already has paid unified carrier registration fees, international registration plan fees, mileage permitting fees and weight-distance permitting fees.
For good examples of this trend, we can look at Georgia and Virginia as two among the many jurisdictions indirectly increasing the cost of taxes and fees on motor carriers.
In Georgia, House Bill 386 amended the Official Code of Georgia relating to property taxation, sales and use taxes on certain motor vehicles, and motor vehicle titling ad valorem fees. In the first reading, the good news is that H.B. 386 provides for an exemption from sales and use taxes, with respect to certain sales or purchases of certain motor vehicles, and provides an alternative to paying ad valorem taxes on motor vehicles.
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