Nationally, trucking firms contribute $12.1 billion of the total dollars going into the federal Highway Trust Fund, or about 30.6 percent of the total $39.5 billion in Trust Fund revenues. In terms of revenues assigned to the Highway Account ($32.1 billion), as opposed to the mass transit account, the trucker contribution is equal to 37.7 percent of highway account revenues. These trucker taxes were in the form of diesel taxes (73.4 percent), retail taxes (15.3 percent) and use/tire taxes (11.3 percent). While these are the best numbers available, it should be noted that commercial truck gasoline taxes are excluded from the above figures, but that registration fees include some commercial pickup trucks. A somewhat better measure of the contribution of heavy trucks can be found in the data on national average federal taxes charged on a typical 5-axle, 80,000 pound GVW tractor-trailer combination truck. For a typical 80,000 pound GVW tractor-trailer combination truck the federal highway taxes average $8,959 per year.
The trucking industry also makes major contributions to the revenues of state road funds. Across the 50 states, excluding gasoline taxes on light trucks, the trucking industry contributes $15 billion, with half of that in diesel taxes, and 36 percent in truck registration fees. The figures exclude gasoline taxes on commercial trucks, but include registration fees on all commercial trucks including pickups. As with the federal taxes, a better measure of the contribution of heavy trucks can be found in the data on national average state taxes charged on a typical 5-axle, 80,000 pound GVW tractor-trailer combination truck. These taxes relate primarily to state diesel tax, registration fees and weight fees. On average, heavy trucks paid $4,930 each per year in state charges, including an average $1,672 in registration fees and $2,935 in fuel taxes.
On average, a typical 80,000 pound GVW tractor-trailer truck pays $13,889 per year in truck highway taxes according to the above data. A hypothetical auto owner driving 20,000 miles per year at 25 mpg, and paying $100 in registration fees, ends up paying about $397 per year. So on average, looking at federal and state taxes, a tractor-trailer combination trucks pay about 35 times what a typical auto would pay based on national averages.
Turning to Michigan more specifically, the state last raised its registration fees for heavy trucks in 1997, when they were increased by 30 percent, but has not raised the diesel tax since 1984. Including adjustments to the diesel discount made in 1996, and the 1997 registration fee increases, truck taxes increased by about $70 million from 1996 to 1998. While a typical 80,000 pound GVW truck began paying $1,793 in registration fees in 1997, a 100,000 pound truck was increased to $2,223, and a maximum weight truck over 160,000 pounds was increased to $3,117.
Based on the Nevada Trucking Association’s (NTA) rankings of truck registration and diesel taxes, the average 5-axle tractor-trailer pays $4,830 in Michigan, excluding sales taxes. These taxes include $1,699 in registration fees and $3,131 in diesel taxes. The numbers reflect a correction of the Michigan diesel rate from the 27.7 cents reported by the NTA, to the more accurate rate of 15 cents given that none of the reported rates appear to include sales tax. After making this adjustment, Michigan ranked 43rd amongst the states on the combined registration and diesel taxes. For the neighboring states, the combined truck taxes are $10,597 in Illinois (3rd nationally), $7,789 in Indiana (16th), $7,216 in Ohio (20th) and $8,933 in Wisconsin (7th). So Michigan’s truck taxes going to road upkeep are quite low relative to other states. No combined tax data including sales taxes could be found.