Wednesday, U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the Modern, Clean, and Safe Trucks Act of 2023. The bipartisan bill would repeal the federal excise tax (FET) on heavy trucks and trailers, which was established over 100 years ago to support efforts to pay for World War I.

Today, the 12% FET is the highest percentage excise tax levied on any product, and at the same time, it is an unpredictable and minimal source of revenue for the Highway Trust Fund. The tax also discourages private investment to modernize America’s truck fleet with cleaner and safer trucks and trailers.

“It’s time to repeal this outdated and onerous tax on our Hoosier truckers,” said Senator Young. “Our bipartisan bill will open the floodgates to investment in safer and cleaner trucks and trailers that will benefit our economy and the environment.”

“The current federal excise tax has become a barrier to our progress in encouraging cleaner and greener technology,” said Senator Cardin. “I am proud to support tax policy that enables Maryland manufacturers to innovate and deploy cleaner and safer technologies in our trucking industry. Our legislation will spur growth and competitiveness while making our roads safer and less polluted.”

The bill is supported by the American Trucking Associations, American Truck Dealers, and Zero Emission Transportation Association (ZETA).

“By moving to repeal this antiquated tax, Senators Cardin and Young are showing that they’re serious about improving highway safety, reducing emissions, and creating jobs,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “The federal excise tax was created more than 100 years ago to help the nation win World War I.  Eliminating it will help us win the 21st Century by getting rid of a barrier to putting safer, more environmentally friendly trucks on the road.” 

“The federal government wants heavy-duty trucks to be cleaner or emission free, but slaps a 12 percent tax on the newest, greenest trucks. If the goal is to reduce emissions, repealing the counterproductive FET is a good place to start,” said Scott McCandless, ATD Chairman and President of McCandless Truck Center LLC of Aurora, Colo.

“The federal excise tax harms American truckers and fleet operators by inflating the cost of heavy-duty trucks and limiting access to the many economic and public health benefits that come with transportation electrification,” said Albert Gore, executive director at ZETA. “Medium and heavy-duty trucks account for 24% of all transportation carbon emissions in the United States but represent only 4% of vehicles on the road. It is time to accelerate our movement towards modernized transportation fleets, and we must enable our nation’s fleet operators and truckers to join in this effort.”

“Indiana truck dealers commend Senator Young for his leadership on this important legislation. Repealing the 106-year-old federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks helps keep America competitive and is key to turning over an aging truck fleet,” said Steve Bassett, Immediate Past Chairman of American Truck Dealers and dealer principal of General Truck Sales in Muncie, Ind. 

Full bill text can be found here.