ATA VP: Industry won’t support VMT tax

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Freight

Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) taxes have proven costly to administer, enforce and to comply with, and the trucking industry will strongly oppose implementing a VMT tax, American Trucking Associations Vice President Bob Pitcher said Tuesday, April 20, at the Symposium on Mileage-Based User Fees in Minneapolis.

Speaking on the Political Leadership and Project Champions panel, Pitcher said the industry regards a VMT tax as a weight-distance tax, and that more than 20 states already have repealed WDTs as outdated and ineffective. All but four states currently rely on a combination of truck registration fees and fuel taxes as the most efficient cost-effective way to raise money to build and repair roads, Pitcher said.

“Imagine the bureaucracy needed to oversee and collect VMT fees from millions of highway users,” Pitcher said. Even when a system is in place to supervise collection of taxes, the VMT concept has proven vulnerable to evasion, which could ruin any financial benefits of the tax, he said. “Keeping track of a gallon of fuel, a valuable, tangible product, is far easier than keeping track of a mile traveled.”

The federal fuel tax collected at the pump – 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon of diesel – has been the most equitable low-cost method of funding highway infrastructure, Pitcher said.

Meanwhile, hybrid and electric technology continues to grow in the passenger vehicle market and lessen the demand for gasoline, said Pitcher, who added that finding an alternative to the federal tax on gasoline is a far more urgent need than finding an alternative to the fuel tax on diesel; currently there is no readily available alternative to diesel fuel for over-the-road trucks, so diesel consumption remains relatively stable.

Until alternatives exist, the traditional system of highway funding through registration fees and fuel taxes remains the most efficient way to fund critical highway projects, including major highway bottlenecks, that will help to reduce traffic congestion and reduce carbon emissions, Pitcher said.