Letters: Fees Equal Taxes, Lowering Tire Costs

These Letters to the Editor appear in the Dec. 3 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Fees Equal Taxes

A few weeks ago, I received a call from the staff of U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.). My family operates a business with more than 750 pieces of equipment constantly on the road in America. So I guess they felt it was worth the call to ask my opinion on the Interstate 95 toll situation. I am glad to see she is now trying to turn the tide with new legislation and stop this new tax — excuse me — toll (“Bill Would Prohibit Tolls on I-95 in North Carolina,” TTNews.com, 3-13).

I told Rep. Ellmers’ staff member that I first wanted to clear the air of the myth that trucking companies use the roads and don’t pay their fair share of fuel taxes. Truckers actually pay more fuel tax per mile than the public.

Anyone who has a vehicle larger than a pickup truck these days will tell you must first have an International Fuel Tax Agreement sticker on your vehicle to run the roads. At the end of each quarter, all vehicles with IFTA stickers must pay the fuel tax to run in each state, even if they didn’t buy a penny’s worth of fuel.

On the other hand, a member of the general public can leave here in Wilson, N.C., travel to the South of the Border fueling complex, purchase said fuel in South Carolina, come back and not pay a dime of fuel tax to North Carolina.

I wish my company had that luxury.

I also told Ellmers’ staff that I couldn’t understand why you would spend millions on an elaborate toll system to collect another tax when you already have a system in place to do so. You collect at the pump now. Seems that with a new toll system, you would have to maintain, bill, collect, etc., to keep the system going and you still have to keep up with the fuel tax system.

After that conversation I began to think about how many different taxes trucking companies already pay. And I started writing and writing and, well, here’s what I came up with. And remember: “Fee” is just another way to spell “tax.”

Here are 90 I came up with: federal fuel tax; state fuel tax; state tax on insurance premiums; solid waste fee; FR-East Nash tax (I don’t know what that is, but it’s on my property bill); real estate stamp fees; 911 fee — universal fund fee; LLC annual report filing fee; state utility sales tax on phone land lines; county sales tax on phone lines; roaming tax on cellphone; federal USF fee on cellphone usage; regulatory cost recovery on cellphone usage; NCTRS tax on cellphone usage;  state wireless E-911 surcharge fee on cellphone usage; dump fee tax; storm drainage fee; recycling fees; federal use tax; matching FICA tax; matching Medicare tax; federal unemployment tax; state unemployment tax; state withholding tax; federal withholding tax; federal excise tax; EPA surcharge; International Registration Plan fee; trailer license fee; car license fee; single state registration; federal inspection fee; state inspection fee; ad valorem tax; county property tax; city property tax; sales tax; state health care tax; scrap tire tax; EPA tax on parts; EPA surcharge on environmental cleanup, SmartWay; taxes on interest income; state franchise tax; Sub S federal corporate tax; sub S state corporate tax; sub C federal corporate tax; sub C state corporate tax; alternative minimum tax; tax on sale of assets; lease taxes; tax on profits state entry tax; port taxes; laden tax; unladen tax; liquor tax (one for the hard stuff); alcohol tax (one for not-so-hard stuff); state permit fees; over-width fee; over-height fee; over-length fee; over-gross weight fee; tax on income tax refund; fuel surcharge fee; hazmat fee; bridge toll fee; ferry fees; limited liability corporate tax; state court fee; county court fee; DOT fees; tunnel fee; taxes on investments; FMLA; disability tax; COBRA; building permit fees; notary fee; late fee; electrical sales tax; electrical light unit sales tax; state hotel tax; county hotel tax; city hotel tax; rental car tax; parking fee; pet tax; interest on fees and taxes; and finally, tolls!

I am sure I could come up with more, but my pocket is empty and my hand is cramping.

Rep. Ellmers — please help me with some of these, too!

Keith Barnes


Barnes Transportation Services

Wilson, N.C.

Editor’s Note: After reading this lineup of taxes, Rep. Renee Ellmers put Barnes on her Interstate 95 toll advisory committee.

Lowering Tire Costs

The Opinion essay titled “Lower Your Tire Costs With Proper Inflation” and written by Rick Phillips of Yokohama Tire Corp. that appeared in the Oct. 29 issue of Transport Topics should be “must reading” for every trucker, whether an owner-operator with one truck or a fleet manager of 1,000 or more trucks.

The writer covered all the bases, and anyone who touches a truck can be guaranteed to save money and reduce tire-related headaches by following his advice. In my more than 35 years in the tire industry, I can state that his essay is probably the best one I have ever read covering the importance of proper tire inflation. Kudos for a great piece of writing.

Harvey Brodsky

Managing Director

Retread Tire Association

Pacific Grove, Calif.


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