OOIDA Urges Congress to Pass Two COVID-Relief Measures for Truckers
Washington D.C. – The Owner Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) is urging U.S. lawmakers to immediately pass two financial COVID-relief measures for truckers.
In a letter sent to U.S. Congressional leaders on January 22, OOIDA said lawmakers have not done enough to provide financial relief to many small trucking companies negatively impacted by the pandemic.
“While truckers certainly appreciate the thanks that Congress and the public have heaped on them for their work, that doesn’t help keep their business alive or put food on their table,” OOIDA wrote. “Congress has a real opportunity to demonstrate their support and commitment to hard-working truckers in any upcoming COVID-relief by embracing our recommendations.”
For small fleets and owner-operators, OOIDA is asking for a one-year suspension of the Heavy Vehicle Use Tax (HVUT).
The HVUT is required for vehicles operating at over 55,000 pounds.
OOIDA points out the fee for Class 8 trucks is most commonly $550 and waiving it would “provide immediate relief and help offset some of the unexpected challenges they’ve experienced, whether it be a significant decrease in business due to government-mandated lockdowns, increased delays due to supply chain disruptions, or increased costs for PPE.”
The trucking group also suggested only motor carriers with 19 trucks or fewer should qualify in order to ensure the relief is targeted to small-businesses.
Additionally, OOIDA asked Congress to take action to help company drivers too.
“Although company drivers are not subject to the HVUT, Congress can provide direct assistance to them by restoring their ability to deduct meal expenses incurred while on the road,” OOIDA said. “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 eliminated the ability of company drivers to deduct 80% of up to $66 in daily expenses for meals while on the road. While the bill did not modify the standard per diem deduction for owner-operators or drivers leased to motor carriers, truckers working as company drivers lost the ability to take this important deduction.”
Further, OOIDA explained that the elimination of the per diem for company drivers has “unfortunately increased the tax exposure for many hard-working truckers.”
Congress is expected to take up negotiations on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion proposal in the coming days, though Republican leaders have already signaled the price tag on such legislation is too high.
Speaking at the United States Conference of Mayors’ Winter Meeting on Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) indicated the next COVID-Relief package is likely to be closer to $1 trillion.