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House of Representatives
Session of 2017 - 2018 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: February 15, 2017 08:37 AM
From: Representative Perry S. Warren
To: All House members
Subject: Commuter and Commerce Toll Tax Credit
 
In the near future, I intend to reintroduce former House Bill 1298 of the 2015-2016 Legislative Session, which would establish the Commuter and Commerce Toll Tax Credit.

In 2007, the General Assembly enacted Act 44, which increased state support for transportation needs by proposing tolls on Interstate Route I-80, increasing tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, and issuing revenue bonds. With the increased revenue from higher tolls, Act 44 required the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission to make annual contributions to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. These annual payments would have increased 2.5 percent per year if the tolling of I-80 had been approved by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). However, since FHWA denied the request to toll I-80, the annual funding provided to PennDOT was reduced to $450 million per year. Of this amount, $200 million was deposited in the Motor License Fund for the Highway & Bridge program, and $250 million was deposited in the Public Transportation Trust Fund for transit. However, in 2013, Act 89 became law, which provided new revenues for transportation. Under Act 89, the funding originally designated for highways and bridges was redirected into the Public Transportation Trust Fund to support transit across the state, with a sub-portion of this funding being further directed to provide grants for multi-modal transportation. Act 89 sunsets the funding from the Commission at the 2021-2022 Fiscal Year, after which the turnpike’s payment for Fiscal Year 2022-2023 and thereafter will be $50 million.

With that said, the proposed tolling of Route I-80 under Act 44 was intended to provide a geographical balance in tolls that are providing funding for transportation programs that benefit citizens statewide. However, the denial of this Commonwealth’s application to toll I-80 unfairly left the sole support of the Act 44-required turnpike payments to those drivers in the Southeast, Greater Pittsburgh Area, commercial trucking companies, and others along the turnpike corridor.

As stated in a July 2009 Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission news release: “Without I-80 tolls, many more travelers will divert away from the turnpike in favor of a non-tolled alternative to the north – especially as future turnpike toll increases are implemented – greatly diminishing the combined revenue capacity of the two parallel interstates.” Moreover, Act 44-required payments are collected only from those who utilize our toll roads and, although now designated for transit, are still providing a statewide benefit to our citizens, including persons with disabilities, intercity transportation, and community transportation.

With this in mind, my legislation is intended to offset the burden of higher toll charges on those individuals and businesses that must use Pennsylvania’s tolled roads on a frequent basis. This tax credit will also be extended to Pennsylvania residents and Pennsylvania-based companies that shoulder additional costs when accessing the toll bridges operated under the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission, the Delaware River Port Authority of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and the Burlington County Bridge Commission. This bill would offer a 50 percent tax credit for tolls paid, with a $500 cap per filer per taxable year. The tax credit would be applicable for taxes imposed under the Personal Income Tax, the Corporate Net Income Tax, and the Capitol Stock and Franchise Tax.

Please join me in supporting this fair-minded legislation.

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Introduced as HB926