Connecticut truckers are facing an uncertain landscape with a new highway use tax set to take effect this year. Amidst confusion over who is obligated to pay and how best to comply, some in the industry have suggested the possibility of legal action.
“If we can’t find a legislative or regulatory remedy, then at that point, all bets are off and we need to look at all avenues for redress,” said John Blair, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. “We are assessing whether or not there’s a legal remedy that we could seek if we’re not going to get a legislative or regulatory remedy.”
At a meeting of the MTAC, attended by over 100 members, Blair predicted that lawmakers in the General Assembly would not be overturning or postponing their recently passed heavy vehicle tax. His statement came as those within the trucking industry are seeking more details regarding this new legislation—anticipated to generate an approximate $90 million per year for transportation improvement projects across Connecticut.
Commercial carriers operating in the state will have some extra expenses to consider this year as the new tax set its sights on heavy trucks carrying a classification between class 8 and class 13. Rates will vary depending on size ranging from 2.5 cents per mile for vehicles weighing 26,000 to 28,000 pounds to 14.5 cents per mile for trucks weighing more than 80,000 pounds. With the first payment due by February 28 and a wealth of unanswered questions, truckers across the state and beyond are doing their best to prepare.
With the passing of a new truck-mileage tax, MTAC – representing 450 members – is expecting largely in-state carriers to bear this burden. Meanwhile out-of-state drivers who only pass through occasionally may opt to skirt the fee or may not even be aware of it.
“Like most tax laws in states, they don’t have a lot of enforcement mechanisms. They have back-end compliance,” Blair said. “But the front end, of course, is not always there.”
The Department of Revenue is ready to roll with the new trucking tax and has been assisting carriers with registrations daily. The agency has also been working to communicate requirements in an effort to ensure successful implementation. DRS Commissioner Mark Boughton reports that the agency has notified trucking companies and that several thousand drivers have already registered to pay the new fee.
Connecticut State Police will be looking for truckers who are not in compliance.