October 06,2004

Grassley Advances Tax Fairness for Rural Letter Carriers

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Committee on Finance, has won near-final approval of his bipartisan proposal to give tax fairness to rural letter carriers.

“Rural letter carriers use their own vehicles for delivering the mail,” Grassley said. “Theydrive through all kinds of weather and road conditions. Unfortunately, they’re not fullycompensated for their expenses. That’s wrong. Rural letter carriers deliver the mail. We shoulddeliver tax fairness to them.”

Grassley was the lead Senate negotiator working on a House-Senate conference committeeto reconcile differences between each chamber’s manufacturing tax and trade bill. Today, theconference committee is close to finishing its work. By 5 p.m., the conferees will finish voting onthe final conference report. If they approve it, as expected, their action will clear the conference report for consideration in each chamber later this week. Grassley secured inclusion of his rural letter carriers provision in the conference report, which faces an up or down vote in each chamber and can’t be amended.

Grassley said the U.S. Postal Service recognizes that in rural areas, it is often more practicalfor letter carriers to use their personal vehicle rather than a post office vehicle. The Postal Servicepays an equipment maintenance allowance for letter carriers to use their vehicles.

However, in rural areas, this allowance often does not cover the entire cost of using thevehicle, Grassley said. Because of various factors like terrain and weather conditions, letter carriersoften need personal vehicles that are large, and therefore more expensive to run than what theequipment maintenance allowance covers.

Grassley’s bill allows the carriers’ expenses that are not covered by the equipmentmaintenance allowance to be deductible because they are business expenses that are not reimbursedby the employer.

Rural mail carriers serve more than 68,000 routes in the United States, driving more thanthree million miles a day to deliver letters and packages to more than 30 million families. Iowa has 2,800 rural mail carriers.