ATD Chairman Steve Bassett
Bassett Atd

New ATD chairman Bassett says repeal of FET is top priority

Feb. 17, 2020
“It is a very wrong and very outdated tax,” Steve Bassett told attendees of ATD’s annual conference in Las Vegas. While the group supports efforts to modernize the nation’s infrastructure and prop up the Highway Trust Fund, “FET is not the answer.”

Repealing the federal excise tax (FET) will remain the centerpiece of the American Truck Dealers’ advocacy efforts, new chairman Steve Bassett said.

“It is a very wrong and very outdated tax,” Bassett told attendees of ATD’s annual conference in Las Vegas on Feb. 16. While the group supports efforts to modernize the nation’s infrastructure and prop up the Highway Trust Fund, “FET is not the answer,” he said.  

The excise tax was passed more than 100 years ago to help pay for World War I. The 12% levy often adds between $12,000 - $22,000 to the cost of a new truck purchase, according to ATD.

Last year, Reps. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) introduced H.R. 2381, the “Modern, Clean and Safe Trucks Act of 2019” to repeal the FET on most new heavy-duty trucks and trailers. It was referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means, but no further action was taken.

Bassett is owner of General Truck Sales in his hometown of Muncie, IN. The company sells Volvo, Mack, Hino and Isuzu trucks. It also has locations in Indianapolis and Toledo, OH.

Bassett replaces Jodie Teuton, co-founder and vice president of Kenworth of Louisiana, as ATD chairman. He cited a number of other challenges he plans on tackling during his two-year term, such as overcoming “the most competitive workforce environment we’ve ever seen.”

At the same time, all truck dealers, regardless of brand, must begin to prepare for a shift to electrification, greater reliance on technology and a possible slowdown in retail sales.

Still, he said there is no question the internal combustion engine will remain the powertrain of choice “well into the future.”

The ATD association is part of the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA), and their annual conferences run concurrently.

On Feb. 15, outgoing NADA chairman Charlie Gilchrist touted the group’s clout in pushing back when President Trump threatened install tariffs that “would have spelled disaster” for vehicle dealers.

“We understand the global reality of our business,” said Gilchrist, noting that not every single part of cars and trucks are manufactured exclusively in the United States.

Research found the price tag of domestic cars could have risen up to $2,300 and imported brands by up to $6,800 had the tariffs been fully implemented. That could have resulted in as many as 700,000 jobs being lost and a reduction in sales of up to 2 million vehicles.

Gilchrist said NADA’s meetings with the Commerce Department, Defense Department and the White House are examples of how the group “fought fiercely” for the USMCSA trade deal.

The updated agreement that replaces NAFTA will help preserve “the global strength of our industry,” he said.  

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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