Pappas seeks to eliminate truck excise tax

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U.S. Representative Chris Pappas discusses truck excise taxes next to some trucks that would be taxed under the law he wishes to repeal. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

MANCHESTER, N.H. – On Monday, U.S. Representative Chris Pappas (D-NH-01) joined with leaders of New Hampshire’s heavy-duty truck and trailer sales community to discuss new legislation aiming to repeal the federal excise tax on heavy-duty trucks and trailers.

First established in 1917 to create revenue during World War I, the 12 percent tax applies to the initial sale of any trucks and chassis weighing over 26,000 pounds, trucks with a gross vehicle weight over 33,000 pounds and tractors weighing over 19,500 pounds.

While the percentage of the tax has been as low as three percent in past years, the 12 percent tax has been in place since 1982 and has been extended six times after it was originally set to expire in 1987. According to Pappas, it is now the highest truck excise tax of any country on Earth.

In the proposed legislation, which Pappas is co-sponsoring with U.S. Representative Doug LaMalfa (R-CA-01), the tax would be removed completely.  The proposal echoes a similar piece of legislation introduced in the Senate in 2021.

Spokespeople from the gathered heavy-duty truck dealerships of New Hampshire were grateful to Pappas for his efforts to eliminate the tax, which they say has hampered the efforts of companies looking to modernize fleets of heavy-duty vehicles with newer and more fuel-efficient models.

Pappas noted that need for more fuel-efficient vehicles as well as the impact on global supply chains hurting heavy-duty truck manufacturers and dealerships, as well as consumers impacted by the freight carried by those trucks, as key reasons for the legislation.

“I think what we’re asking for here is for Congress to take a look at this and for us to find ways to support small business in our economy,” he said. “One of the ways we can do that is removing this punitive tax that has become a disincentive for people to take that next step and purchase a newer and more efficient truck that can ensure our local businesses grow.”

In past years, revenue obtained from the tax has gone toward federal transportation infrastructure spending, currently making up less than 10 percent of highway trust funds. A Congressional Budget Office fiscal impact statement was not immediately available for the legislation, with Pappas noting that the legislation is just a first step in creating an approach toward funding America’s transportation networks that is more equitable and sustainable, adding support for efforts in Washington to pass federal gas tax holidays.

“Right now, we have a patchwork of different revenue streams,” said Pappas. “I think it’s an important time to recognize that the way we have funded transportation and infrastructure in this country isn’t working, and I think this 12 percent tax overly burdens businesses and customers for sure.”

About this Author


Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.