Congressional Budget Office Weights Mileage Tax on Commercial Vehicles

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report on imposing a tax on vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) by commercial trucks. This sort of fee is seen as one potential option to bring in revenue that could correct recent imbalances in Highway Trust Fund (HTF) spending that has sent the HTF on a path towards projected insolvency by 2022.

While some states have already begun levying these fees at the state level, many lingering questions regarding scope, administration, collection, and enforcement associated with implementing a federal VMT tax on commercial trucks have yet to be resolved. Federal lawmakers are expected to consider these types of issues as the HTF shortfall increases, and the current surface transportation authorization, the FAST Act, expires at the end of September 2020.

The CBO report found that imposing a 7.5-cent tax for every mile a commercial truck travels would generate enough new revenue to replace the Highway Trust Fund taxes that truck owners now pay and cover the industry’s share of the fund’s current shortfall. The report also found that the cost to the government of implementing a VMT tax on commercial trucks would be higher than the price of administering the current diesel fuel-excise taxes.

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