Road Worrier Blog

Truckers oppose NC House diesel tax and DMV fees

Richard Heitkember from Hubertus, WI, checks the meter before putting fuel in his tank at Big Boy's Truck Stop in Kenly, N.C., on Monday, April 7, 2008.
Richard Heitkember from Hubertus, WI, checks the meter before putting fuel in his tank at Big Boy's Truck Stop in Kenly, N.C., on Monday, April 7, 2008. Staff file photo

Truckers say they would be hit unfairly by House Republican budget proposals to increase motor vehicle fees and set the fuel tax for diesel 3 cents higher than the gasoline tax.

“It’s just shifting a lot of the burden back on the trucking industry,” said Crystal Collins, president of the N.C. Trucking Association, which represents 350 trucking firms. “We already pay more than a fourth of the total taxes and user fees that are paid by the motoring public. We already pay our fair share.”

North Carolina taxes gas and diesel fuel at the same rate, now 36 cents a gallon. The House budget (House Bill 97) would reduce the gas tax to 33 cents in January but keep the diesel rate unchanged, adding North Carolina to the ranks of states that tax the two fuels at different rates.

Fees collected by the Division of Motor Vehicles would be increased by 50 percent, pushing total DMV fee collections to more than $900 million a year.

Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican who helped draft the transportation budget proposals, was asked about the diesel tax and DMV fees during the House Appropriations Committee budget discussion Tuesday. He said the higher diesel tax was just one way to come up with needed revenues for transportation. DMV fees haven’t changed in 10 years, he said.

Collins provided state-by-state data estimating that an average five-axle tractor-semitrailer combination truck in North Carolina pays $1,254 in state registration and weight fees, $6,000 in state fuel taxes and $8,906 in federal fuel, excise and heavy-vehicle taxes.

“We support a solution that spreads the costs equitably among users,” Collins said in email to members of the House Finance Committee, which endorsed the budget Monday. “Our industry already pays more than its fair share.”

DMV 50 percent fee hike ‘just above inflation’?

Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican who helped draft transportation provisions in the proposed House budget, said Tuesday that a proposed 50 percent increase for state motor vehicle fees represents a rate “just above inflation, as DMV rates have not been raised since 2005.”

But Consumer Price Index data show much lower inflation over the past decade: 20.2 percent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics online inflation calculator indicates that a $28 auto registration fee in 2005 would have the same buying power as a $33.85 fee today, a $5.85 increase. The House budget would increase that fee instead by $14, to $42.

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