- Fifty-four percent of survey takers said they support a "business road-use fee" on freight and delivery trucks assessed on mileage and paid in addition to the gas tax, according to the 11th-annual report on mileage fees from the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) at San Jose State University. The online survey was conducted in February with 2,515 participants.
- About half of respondents said they supported some form of a mileage fee, according to the report. About 75% of respondents said they preferred paying a mileage fee in small installments versus one annual bill.
- The survey found 45% of respondents supported replacing the gas tax with a flat-rate mileage fee of 1 cent per mile, while 49% said they support a version in which the fee would be assessed depending on how much pollution a vehicle emits. Most respondents (57%) said electric vehicles (EV) should pay either half the mileage-fee rate of gas and diesel vehicles or no fee at all. The remaining respondents (43%) said EVs, gas and diesel vehicles should all pay the same rate.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) cautioned Congress in February against tapping the trucking industry to foot too much of the bill for the Highway Trust Fund. "Forcing the industry to cover the entire gap between available revenue and infrastructure funding needs will jeopardize economic stability, cripple our nation’s supply chain, and threaten to decimate recent economic gains," the ATA wrote. "Moreover, it will irreparably fracture the broad stakeholder support that has facilitated the advancement of past highway bills."
Truck-only, vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) taxes are "discriminatory funding schemes," the ATA said, and "must be dismissed as a misguided and prejudiced funding gimmick."
But ATA does support the gas tax, calling it "the most immediate, cost-efficient and conservative mechanism currently available" for funding highway projects.
The MTI survey found support for a gas tax increase has grown "slowly but steadily since 2010." But that support depends on how policymakers would spend the money. According to the report, 75% of respondents support a gas tax increase that would solely fund maintenance. Less than half, 44%, said they'd support the "base case" gas tax, for which funds would go toward a general "transportation" bucket.
But, the study found, most people don't know much about the current gas tax. MTI said 3% of respondents knew the federal gas tax was last raised more than 20 years ago. And 25% knew approximately when their state had last raised its gas tax. About half of respondents reported they did not know when the federal and state rates were raised last.
Congressional Budget Office estimates had the HTF receiving $43 billion from tax revenue in fiscal year 2020, according to the Tax Policy Center.The federal gasoline tax would contribute $25.8 billion of that, while diesel fuel contributes $10.5 billion, accounting for 84% of the total tax revenue. The rest comes from the trucking industry: the sales tax on tractors and heavy trucks, the excise tax on tires and the sales tax on trucks.
In April, American Truck Dealers (ATD) teamed with the ATA and 115 other groups to call for a temporary repeal of the federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks and trailers as part of pandemic-related relief.
"[A] tax holiday on the antiquated federal excise tax would be good medicine to help with liquidity and to stimulate the purchase of newer, safer trucks and trailers," said Chris Spear, ATA president and CEO, in a statement.