Waterways operators are angry about a new requirement for off-highway users to pay a tax of 15 cents a gallon for highway diesel fuel and then apply for a refund of the payment.
The American Waterways Operators Inc., based in Arlington, Va., urged its members to contact Congress on the inequitable requirement scheduled to take effect April 1.The group is seeking an exemption for the domestic water transportation industry similar to existing exemptions for commercial aviation and railroads.
It estimates the fuel tax could cost the inland and coastal tug and barge industry $240 million a year. That money will be refunded, after the initial start-up period of a year to 18 months, on a quarterly basis without interest, the waterway operators stressed.
This staggering cash flow loss places the barge and towing industry at a competitive disadvantage with the railroads, the group complained.
Some 14 bills have been introduced to provide relief for affected groups; one House measure would exempt non-highway users of diesel fuel from having to pay the tax up front.