Sunday, August 2, 2015

Casey: Boost truck fees, shut loopholes, or road repairs will stall this summer

Or highway jobs will stop this summer, Pa. senator warns

Casey: Boost truck fees, shut loopholes, or road repairs will stall this summer

0 comments
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pennsylvania (David Maialetti / Staff Photographer)

(What about the gas tax? We'll get to that): Sen. Robert Casey, D-Pa., says higher fees for 50-ton trucks and four other tax changes could raise enough money to keep federal highway repairs funded for the rest of 2014. If nothing is done by mid-July, he warns, the federal trust fund that finances highway improvements will run out of money this summer, cancelling jobs in Pennsylvania and other states with rundown highway systems.

Casey hopes the proposal can ease years of bickering in Congress over how to pay for aging roads, and will be followed by long-term solutions. He proposes, for now:
- Double the $550 cap on the annual federal "use tax" for heavy trucks to as much as $1,100 for vehicles that weigh over 48.5 tons. This would raise an additional $1.35 billion over 10 years, Casey says.
- Make the property tax break for mortgage interest depend on taxpayers reporting how much they owe on their loans, for what properties, and other basic loan data. Casey figures this will squeeze out $2.2 billion in tax breaks over 10 years, that would otherwise go to people who haven't earned them.
- Double, to six years, the period for which people who are caught substantially understating their income can have their taxes reassessed. Casey says that will raise another $1.3 billion over a decade.
- Make passport renewals dependant on paying up a taxpayer's tax debts (above $50,000) and child support (above $3,000). Casey figures the tax lien will raise $388 million over 10 years.
- Make very young people who inherit IRAs, pensions and annuities cash them in within 5 years of the account holder's death, "to close an estate-planning tax loophole." Casey says this will raise $3.7 billion over 10 years.

What about boosting the tax on gasoline? Not without Republicans: "Some people think a gas tax increase is the only way to get there. I' m not willing to support a gas tax without a longterm discussion, which must be bipartisan," Casey said in a phone press conference.

I noted that Casey has issued similar warnings about the underfunded federal private-pension trust fund (not to mention the Post Office, another Casey cause), and asked him if there's a pattern here that shows a lot of people now in Congress don't want the government honoring its past committments. 

The senator wouldn't go there: Given the way all Congressional districts rely on federal highway funding,  "transportation should be an easier lift than those pension issues," he said.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com, distefano251@gmail.com, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter