The tax policy of the American Trucking Associations follows this general rule: “Taxes are levied for the purpose of obtaining essential government revenues with the least detrimental effect on taxpayers and on economic growth.” The policy encourages simplicity and neutrality in tax laws and rules, and urges a federal solution to over-aggressive and discriminatory taxation of the trucking industry by state and local governments.
Taxes are levied for the purpose of obtaining essential government revenues with the least detriment to taxpayers and to economic growth. Government should avoid deficit spending. When deficits occur, every effort should be made to reduce or eliminate them through reduced spending, and not by increasing taxes. Tax collections should not surreptitiously increase through inflation. The tax system should encourage the investment necessary for national industrial growth, production, employment, and trade, but should be neutral as to investment in different types of capital equipment. Business taxation should encourage the reinvestment of earnings in sufficient amounts to promote healthy economic progress. The federal estate and gift tax should be eliminated, or in the alternative structured so that their impact on small businesses is minimal. The federal tax system and the federal tax law should be made as simple and equitable as possible for taxpayers. In general, all businesses should be taxed at similar effective tax rates; in particular, the Code should be structured so that all modes of transportation are taxed at fair and comparable levels.
State Business Taxes
ATA supports the enactment of federal law protecting interstate motor carriers from discriminatory state and local taxes to the same degree as federal law currently protects the railroad industry. ATA supports the federal law that restricts the imposition of state and local income taxes on motor carrier workers to the state of their residence, and supports the enactment of similar federal legislation to protect interstate carriers from unreasonable state and local taxation. In general, local governments should be prevented by state or federal law from imposing business taxes on interstate motor carriers that do not have a local business establishment.
The excise tax on fuel has proven itself to be one of the most efficient taxes, and should remain the major component of federal and state highway funding systems. Contrary to recent pronouncements, ATA does not believe that the fuel tax is obsolete or inequitable, either now or, at least as the tax is applied to the use of fuel by heavy commercial vehicles, in the foreseeable future. ATA supports the continuation of the dyeing of off-highway diesel fuel as a tax-enforcement mechanism, and the application of the tax on diesel fuel at the rack. ATA supports the federal mandate for state membership in the International Fuel Tax Agreement, which provides a uniform, efficient means of the collection of state and provincial fuel use taxes from interstate motor carriers.
Vehicle registration fees and the fuel tax are the two components of a two-structure system of highway user fees, which ATA supports as the acceptable basis of highway taxation in every state. State vehicle registration fees for combination vehicles should impose the primary fee on the power unit of the combination, with only a nominal fee on trailing equipment, which should have free registration reciprocity everywhere. ATA supports the expansion of registration reciprocity for trucks and tractors to both interstate and intrastate vehicle movements. ATA supports the federal mandate for state membership in the International Registration Plan, which provides a uniform, efficient means for the registration of the vehicles of interstate motor carriers, and the provision of reciprocity for their operation in the United States and Canada.
IRP, IFTA & UCRA
The International Registration Plan, the International Fuel Tax Agreement, and the Unified Carrier Registration Agreement are the systems, and their governing organizations, through which interstate motor carriers fulfill their obligations for vehicle registration fees, fuel use taxes, and unified registration fees to all the states and the Canadian provinces. ATA serves as the primary spokesman to all three of these state (and provincial) organizations on behalf of the trucking industry. ATA supports the federal mandate for state membership in IRP and IFTA.
ATA opposes weight-distance taxes, mileage taxes, and other third-structure taxes on trucks, including vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) taxes and mileage-based user fees. These taxes have over many decades proven themselves to be expensive to collect and to comply with, unfair in application, wide open to evasion, and unacceptable both politically and practically. ATA does not believe that the application of advanced technologies can render such taxes acceptable.