New York bill would eliminate ton-mile tax

| 10/7/2009

An effort in the New York Assembly would eliminate collection of a long-despised tax applied to truck drivers.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Hayes, R-Amherst, the bill would rid the state of the truck mileage tax – also known as the ton-mile tax.

The ton-mile tax is based on the specific weight of trucks. It is intended to offset wear and tear on roads by charging fees for miles traveled in the state.

The nearly 60-year-old levy is applied to vehicles with maximum gross weights of at least 18,000 pounds operating in the state. New York doesn’t charge truckers the ton-mile tax on miles traveled on toll roads.

Supporters of the bill point out that New York is the only state in the region to administer the tax. Three other states employ a ton-mile tax (KY, NM and OR).

Owner-operator and OOIDA member Gary O’Brien of Ionia, NY, said the tax is a barrier to competition with neighboring states. He said the tax shares a lot of the blame for trucking operations moving out of the state, distribution centers staying away, and shipping routes being altered.

“I drive the north-south route. We get down in Pennsylvania, and you see distribution centers and construction going on. And we basically have nothing. We lose business; we don’t gain business,” O’Brien told Land Line. “I have to believe our regulations and the cost of doing business in New York has a lot to do with it. That ton-mile tax is a lot of revenue.”

Even though the tax is a detriment to business, O’Brien isn’t optimistic about the bill’s prospects for passage because the state doesn’t have anything to replace the revenue.

“They’re not going to sacrifice that revenue. It’s too much money for them to do without,” he said.

The bill – A5821 – is sitting in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New York in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

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