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June 15, 2020   |  

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Perspective: Federal Excise Tax Relief Can Aid Recovery


The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world. In the United States it altered the way our country operates and wreaked havoc on American businesses, but leaders in Washington responded with actions that helped mitigate the damage. I applaud these efforts and am confident that our economy will bounce back. But the work is not done.

Our nation’s economic recovery depends in large part on maintaining a flow of goods provided by trucks. To help ensure this important work gets done, Congress must provide a catalyst to boost production at domestic truck factories and bring customers back to our stores. The fastest and most direct way for Congress to aid this part of the economic recovery — and the trucking industry — would be to suspend the 12% federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks and trailers. As Congress considers the next phases of virus-related economic recovery legislation, it should include suspension of the FET on new trucks and trailers until the end of 2021.

This proposal could incentivize truck and trailer sales during this difficult and unprecedented economic period, and put newer trucks on the road. While today’s heavy-duty trucks are the safest and cleanest ever, these gains have come with costs; environmental, fuel economy and safety technologies have added by various estimates up to $40,000 to the cost of a new heavy-duty truck. With more than half of the Class 8 trucks on the road at more than 10 years old according to the Diesel Technology Forum, relief from the FET could compel carriers to upgrade their fleets to newer, cleaner trucks. And in a recent survey of trucking fleets, American Trucking Associations found that nearly 60% of respondents would be somewhat or very likely to buy additional trucks and/or trailers beyond their scheduled buy if the FET was eliminated.


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