Truck-only VMT tax egregious, trucking groups say

May 25, 2021

Mark Schremmer


A truck-only vehicle-miles-traveled tax is shortsighted, inequitable and discriminatory against the industry.

That was the message from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations about proposals to place the burden on truckers to fill the nation’s infrastructure gap.

The two trucking organizations wrote to the leaders of the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday, May 25.

“As the leading payer into the Highway Trust Fund and the only mode of freight transportation with that responsibility, the trucking industry is proud to pay our fair share,” the OOIDA and ATA letter stated. “To claim that cars are ‘subsidizing’ trucks as a pretext to implementing a new discriminatory, truck-only tax is egregious and misleading.

“While trucks account for only 4% of vehicles on the road and 9% of all vehicle-miles-traveled nationally, we currently pay nearly half the entire (Highway Trust Fund) federal user-fee tab.”

Cornyn’s truck-only VMT proposal

The letter to the Senate Finance committee came a week after Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, suggested using a truck-only VMT tax as the way to fund the nation’s infrastructure. Cornyn called corporate tax increases, as well as a general fuel tax increase, political nonstarters. Instead, he suggested a 25-cent-per-mile fee on most Class 7 and Class 8 trucks.

“Should the committee pursue this Cornyn tax proposal, know that it will encounter an intractable wall of opposition from our industry and from the many economic sectors which we serve,” the letter stated. “Doing so will not only alienate some of the strongest champions and natural allies of user-funded infrastructure investment, but it will also wreck the possibility of achieving the broad stakeholder support needed to advance the legislative process.”

Some lawmakers also tried to push for a truck-only VMT tax in 2020, but the proposal fizzled after a significant amount of opposition from OOIDA members.

OOIDA and ATA are trying to stop another push at a truck-only VMT tax by reminding lawmakers how much our country relies on the trucking industry and how much truckers have done for the United States during the pandemic.

“The trucking industry stands ready to move our economy out of this recession and back on a trajectory to long-term growth. In order to succeed, truckers need partners in Washington – not a taxable target on their backs. We respectfully urge you to consider the impact that a truck-only VMT would have on the members of our industry, our supply chain, and the American consumer.” LL