The incoming tax reform bill could be a welcome holiday gift for truckers, according to Barry Pottle, president of Pottle’s Transportation and first vice chairman of American Trucking Associations.
Congress passed a major tax overhaul Dec. 20, marking the first significant reform to the tax code since 1986. Pottle wrote a Dec. 18 opinion piece about the benefits tax reform could bring to truckers in the Bangor Daily News. Pottle’s Transportation is headquartered in Bangor, Maine.
“Like many industries across the country, we see tax reform as a major win. The tax code has been a longtime barrier to growth for trucking,” Pottle said.
Tax reform was one of the pillars on which President Donald Trump built his campaign. One of the chief tenets of the tax plan involves the abolishment of the estate tax, also known as the death tax. That tax is levied on the transfer of the estate of a deceased person.
Although the newly passed tax reform bill does not completely remove the estate tax, it exempts most people from its parameters. The amount of money exempt from the tax — previously set at $5.49 million for individuals, and at $10.98 million for married couples — has been doubled.
Representatives from trucking companies, many of which are family-owned, have expressed enthusiasm at the prospect of ending the estate tax. According to ATA, 97.3% of trucking companies industrywide have 20 or fewer trucks. Pottle leads a family-operated company which is now in its third generation of business.
“As an industry of small businesses, trucking knows how reducing tax rates can spark a growing company,” Pottle wrote. “More money for our small business means investment in employees and equipment. More take-home money for our employees helps them provide for their families and keeps them happy when they come to work.”
Although Pottle said that tax reform will benefit truckers across the country, he specifically discussed the importance of tax reform for Maine-based operators.
According to Pottle, the state’s trucking industry provided 28,420 jobs in 2015. In the same year, total trucking industry wages paid in Maine exceeded $1.2 billion, with an average annual salary of $43,611. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in May 2015 that Maine’s 8,680 heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers earned an average annual salary of $38,530.
In 2014, the trucking industry paid 33% of all taxes owed by Maine motorists, even though trucks represented only 8% of vehicle miles traveled in the state, according to Pottle. The Tax Foundation estimated that the Senate version of the tax bill could create 4,000 jobs in Maine and give middle-income families a $2,238 gain in after-tax income.
“Maine companies don’t want to just survive; we want to be active participants in a vibrant economy, and that can be made possible with tax reform,” Pottle states. “Mainers rely on the trucking industry to do its job and make on time deliveries.”