U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (left) and Mike Gallagher introduced the Strengthening Supply...

U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (left) and Mike Gallagher introduced the Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act.

In an effort to address the truck driver shortage, U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-Virginia) and Mike Gallagher (R-Wisconsin) introduced bipartisan legislation that would establish a refundable income tax credit for qualified commercial truck drivers.

The Strengthening Supply Chains Through Truck Driver Incentives Act would provide a short-term and fast incentive to attract and retain new drivers. Specifically, the Spanberger-Gallagher bill would create a two-year (2022 and 2023) refundable tax credit of up to $7,500 for truck drivers holding a valid Class A commercial driver’s license who drive at least 1,900 hours in the year.

Additionally, it would establish a new refundable tax credit of up to $10,000 for new truck drivers or individuals enrolled in a registered trucking apprenticeship. This tax credit would also last for two years.

New truck drivers would be eligible for the credit if they did not drive a commercial truck in the previous year or drive for at least 1,420 hours in the current year. They may receive a proportion of the credit if they drive less than 1,420 hours in the year, but drove at least an average of 40 hours a week upon starting to drive.

The Spanberger-Gallagher legislation is endorsed by the American Trucking Associations, American Loggers Council, Virginia Trucking Association, Virginia Farm Bureau, Virginia Loggers Association, and Virginia Agribusiness Council.

ATA president and CEO Chris Spear said the bill would attract more drivers into the field by providing substantial tax credits to reduce their federal tax liabilities.

“This bipartisan bill would make a meaningful difference in the lives of new truckers, further elevating the profession as one of the few available in today’s job market that provides a stable career path to the middle class without the costly burden of a four-year college degree,” Spear said. “A challenge as complex as the truck driver shortage cannot be resolved through a single solution. Solving it requires a multifaceted approach that combines industry initiative with good public policy such as this legislation.”

In 2021, American trucking companies experienced a record deficit of approximately 80,000 drivers due to hiring and retention challenges, the representatives wrote in a news release. Many trucking companies — including in Virginia and Wisconsin — have struggled to hire drivers without offering bonuses or increased wages to qualified drivers. And to further compound the issue down the road, the median age of U.S. truck drivers is between 51- and 52-years-old, they wrote.

“By creating a refundable tax credit for the men and women who keep our goods flowing, we would encourage more young people to hop in the driver’s seat, reduce headaches for trucking businesses, and make sure experienced drivers are rewarded for their hard work,” Spanberger said.

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