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Highway Taxes

The major part of the cost of building and maintaining bridges, highways, roads, and streets should be paid through highway user charges. User taxes and fees should be the primary but not the sole source of highway funds. Highway user fees and taxes should be placed in a Highway Trust Fund. The Highway Trust Fund should only be used for highway purposes and should continue as a source of funding for defined federal-aid highway system programs only. All highway user taxes should be dedicated to highway purposes. The Highway Trust Fund should be supplemented by appropriations from the general fund in order to recognize the non-highway user benefits of the highway program.

The level of highway user taxation should be based on a thorough analysis of highway conditions and proven needs. Each class of motor vehicle should pay its fair share of highway program costs based upon a traditional incremental highway cost allocation approach. No one group of highway users should be exempted from payment of highway user taxes or fees. No motor vehicle should be exempted from any highway user taxes by reason of ownership by or operation on behalf of the U.S. Government or any state or local government or political subdivision. Highway users should be involved in establishing funding levels for the highway program and setting the user charges needed to pay for them.

Highway user taxes should:

  1. Be reasonably uniform in application among classes of highway users;
  2. Be based chiefly on readily verifiable measures of highway and vehicle use;
  3. Not provide opportunities for evasion;
  4. Be inexpensive and simple for government to administer, collect, and enforce without imposing excessive administrative and record keeping burdens on highway users; and
  5. Not create impediments to interstate commerce.

Because weight-distance, ton-mile, axle-mile, and other similar third-structure taxes cannot meet the above criteria, they should be eliminated where they currently exist and not be imposed elsewhere.

TCA supports increases in fuel taxes, coupled with indexing to an appropriate annual cap as needed, provided the funds generated are dedicated to the Freight Corridors Initiative or other highway infrastructure improvements.

Amended March 3, 2013

State Highway Taxes

The U.S. Congress should establish and adopt a comprehensive framework for state taxation and regulation of the interstate trucking industry including access to the Federal courts to resolve disputes within that framework adopted by the Congress.

The framework for uniform state taxation and regulation of interstate trucking activity should not set limits on the amount of tax to be paid to a state but should clearly identify those taxes meeting principles of equity and administrative ease.

State highway taxes assessed directly or indirectly on motor carriers operating vehicles properly registered in another state should be based on the following principles of equity:

  1. The tax levy must relate to the extent of highway use within the taxing state;
  2. The tax, if assessed on vehicles, must be fairly apportioned;
  3. The tax must apply equally to both interstate and intrastate motor carrier activity; and
  4. The tax must not create an undue burden on interstate commerce.

State highway taxes assessed on motor carriers should be structured so that compliance by motor carriers and enforcement by states adheres to the following principles:

  1. Tax reporting requirements should be administratively and procedurally uniform among the states; and
  2. The administrative cost of a state's tax collection, enforcement, and audit program should not be underwritten by additional administrative fees or charges on motor carries other than the basic highway taxes.

State highway taxes should be limited to vehicle registration fees and fuel taxes. Administrative per-vehicle and/or per carrier fees should not be imposed on interstate carriers for:

  1. Highway tax or other economic purposes; or
  2. Activities which are duplicative of existing State and/or local programs which have the effect or diverting traffic into other jurisdictions.

A single plate issued by a motor carrier's base state should permit interstate and intrastate vehicle operations in all jurisdictions. All states should be required to be members of the International Registration Plan.

State highway tax revenues should be dedicated to highway programs through state constitutional amendments.

Adopted February 10, 1991
Amended March 8, 2009