Dealers form coalition to advocate for sunsetting hefty truck excise tax

American Truck Dealers (ATD) Chairwoman Jodie Teuton of Kenworth of Louisiana introduced Friday trucking’s newest coalition to fight federal excise tax, Modernize the Truck Fleet, during the general session at the ATD Show 2019 in San Francisco.

Federal excise tax was enacted in 1917 and was meant to be a temporary measure to help pay for World War I. Today, it is the highest percentage tax that Congress levies on a product. ATD says FET can add from $12,000 to $22,000 to the cost of a new truck.

Teuton has followed in the footsteps of her ATD chair predecessors in leading the dealer association toward the elimination of the 102-year-old tax. On Friday she said the steps taken by the ATD with Congress in 2018 were positive, and believes the Congress sworn in earlier this month could potentially push the trucking industry further toward FET’s repeal.

“This is our best shot in decades to eliminate this tax,” she said. “This year, we have a unique opportunity to make FET repeal a reality.”

Joining ATD’s fight against FET in the Modernize the Truck Fleet (MTF) coalition are NTEA – The Association for the Work Truck Industry; the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA); and the Truck and Engine Manufacturers Association (EMA). Teuton said the four groups will work together to not only to repeal FET, but also determine an acceptable replacement for the tax to sustain the highway trust fund.

“It’s been 37 years since Congress changed the FET on trucks,” Teuton said. “It’s time for Congress to take the FET off cruise control.”

The leaders of the other MTF groups are optimistic about the coalition’s chances to create real change.

“TRALA is excited to be part of the Modernize the Truck Fleet coalition,” said Jake Jacoby, president, TRALA. “With an infrastructure bill as likely to pass as any piece of legislation in 2019, this is the time to put all of our combined energy into finding a way to replace the onerous FET.”

EMA President Jed Mandel added, “The FET increases the cost of purchasing a new, modern heavy-duty trucks, and as such we endorse repealing the FET to lower barriers to deploying the cleanest and safest trucks available. We are enthused to help lead this important effort to modernize the truck fleet.”

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Teuton said Congress and the Trump administration discussed a comprehensive infrastructure bill in 2018 and those conversations are expected to continue in 2019. During Friday’s address, she urged ATD member dealers to ramp up their grassroots efforts and get involved by contacting their members in Congress.

“We need each one of you in this fight. Your senator or representative may be the one to make the difference,” she said.