The Connecticut General Assembly has passed HB 6688, a bill that imposes a highway use tax (HUT) on every carrier for operating, or causing to be operated, certain heavy, multi-unit motor vehicles (Class 8-13) on any highway (i.e., not just limited-access highways) in the state. The bill now heads to Governor Ned Lamont for signature into law; when signed, it becomes effective 1 January 2023.
The HUT is calculated based on a vehicle’s weight and the number of miles driven in the state. The bill establishes per-mile tax rates that increase based on vehicle gross weight, ranging from $0.025 per mile for vehicles weighing 26,000-28,000 lbs to $0.175 cents per mile for vehicles weighing more than 80,000 lbs. Revenue from the tax is directed to the Special Transportation Fund (STF).
The STF is a dedicated fund used to finance the state’s transportation infrastructure program and operate the departments of Motor Vehicles and Transportation. The law requires that specified tax revenue and various transportation-related fees, fines, and charges be credited to the STF.
Under the bill, carriers must file returns and remit the tax to the Department of Revenue Services (DRS) on a monthly basis. The bill requires carriers to obtain HUT permits from DRS and establishes procedures for suspending or revoking them. It also applies to the HUT various collection, enforcement, and appeals process provisions that apply to other taxes under existing law.
The bill exempts from the HUT the United States, the federal government, and the state or any of its political subdivisions and motor vehicles carrying or transporting milk or dairy products to or from a dairy farm that holds a license to ship milk.
The bill requires each carrier to apply to DRS for a HUT permit. It prohibits carriers from operating, or causing to be operated, any eligible motor vehicle in the state without a HUT permit on or after 1 January 2023.
DRS must grant and issue a permit to a carrier upon receiving its fully completed application. The permit is valid only for the carrier to which it is issued and the eligible motor vehicles the carrier operates or causes to be operated and not assignable.
It is estimated that the new fee will generate about $45 million in revenue in 2023 and $90 million each year after. Opponents warn that the tax will increase the prices of consumer goods and will fall unfairly on Connecticut-based trucking.