AMSA is the sole moving association to represent the concerns and interests of its moving & storage company members Capitol Hill. Through its tireless efforts, AMSA has been able to work with lawmakers to enact policy change for the protection and betterment of the moving industry. The AMSA Government Affairs Department drafts policy papers to summarize and communicate its major positions, schedules an annual meeting between industry leaders and legislators at the Nation’s Capital, and communicates key legislative alerts to its members. So what are some of the hot button issues at the moment? Here we’ll go over a couple of the biggest issues you should be aware of:
Permanent Rollback of Hours of Service 34-Hour Restart Rule
In 2013, FMCSA enacted new rules to regulate the amount of time that truckers could drive in a given week. The new regulations capped a driver’s limit to 70 hours of driving time per week, with a mandatory 34-hour rest period in order to restart the week. This “restart” mandated that the driver get two consecutive nights of rest, sleeping between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. These new laws were aimed at reducing the number of fatigued drivers on the road and preventing some of the 75 deaths a week resulting from big-rig crashes.
The bill was temporarily suspended in under the 2015 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, restoring hours of service to the original 34-hour restart rule in effect prior to 2013 (without the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. rest provision). AMSA pushed lawmakers to permanently reinstate these 2013 rules when it gathered for Moving Day on Capitol Hill earlier this year. In May of 2016, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee released the 2017 DOT funding budget, which included a full repeal of the 2013 restart rule, making the reinstatement of the pre-2013 HOS rules permanent. This means truck drivers can take their 34-hour restart whenever they choose to and as often as they’d like. For more information on compliance with the 34-hour rule, check out this information from Foley.
Reducing the Tax Burden Placed on Moving Companies
AMSA cites four critical tax issues that the moving industry faces:
- Estate Tax: An estate tax is a tax imposed on cash or property of the deceased when it passes on to the heirs. Estate taxes can be detrimental to small businesses that are passed from generation to generation. The moving industry is primarily comprised of thousands of small businesses. Owners of these small moving companies would love to be able to pass the businesses they’ve worked so hard to build on to their sons and daughters. By encouraging Congress to pass estate tax reform, the industry hopes to protect its small business members.
- Federal Diesel Fuel Tax: Transporters must pay a federal fuel tax on all the diesel they purchase. However, these same transporters also handle a large number of the military household good shipments to help service men and women and their families relocate from one base to the next. After completing a move, the moving companies charge the government for their services, including recouping the diesel fuel tax. Many argue that it would be a lot easier if they just weren’t taxed in the first place.
- Federal Withholding: Starting in 2011, moving companies became subject to a federal withholding mandate of up to 3% of the contract value on federal contracts (i.e. those military shipments mentioned above). Those advocating withholding insist this helps ensure that movers pay their taxes, while the moving industry argues this cuts into an already difficult cash flow situation. Moving companies need immediate access to their cash to keep operations going, especially during the slower winter months.
- IRS Safe Harbor MSU: Currently, the industry has an agreement with the IRS as to how it classifies the many owner-operators that contract with moving companies to complete long distance moves. The Market Segment Understanding currently in place between the industry and the IRS defines these owner-operators as independent contractors rather than employees, which reduces the moving companies’ tax liability. AMSA wants to keep this agreement with the IRS in place.
Keep Up with the ProMover Podcast
For more information on the latest lobbying efforts by AMSA, be sure to check out the ProMover podcast here. This episode features an interview with two members of the AMSA Government Affairs team who serve as liaisons between AMSA and representatives on Capitol Hill, ensuring that moving companies’ interests are served by Congress and new legislation.