Highway Trust Fund Law and Legal Definition

The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) is a government fund that was established to hold federal highway user taxes that are devoted for highway and transit related purposes. The HTF was created by the 1956 Highway Revenue Act. It is the source of funding for most of the federal government’s surface transportation programs. These programs are administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration. The largest component of the trust fund is the Federal-Aid Highway program.

The HTF comprises of two separate accounts:

The Highway Account: for the highways.

The Mass Transit Account: for mass transit.

The following is an example of a federal statute on Highway Trust Fund:

26 USCS § 9503. Highway Trust Fund

(a) Creation of Trust Fund. There is established in the Treasury of the United States a trust fund to be known as the "Highway Trust Fund", consisting of such amounts as may be appropriated or credited to the Highway Trust Fund as provided in this section or section 9602(b) [26 USCS § 9602(b)].

(b) Transfer to Highway Trust Fund of amounts equivalent to certain taxes and penalties.

(1) Certain taxes. There are hereby appropriated to the Highway Trust Fund amounts equivalent to the taxes received in the Treasury before October 1, 2011, under the following provisions:

(A) section 4041 [26 USCS § 4041] (relating to taxes on diesel fuels and special motor fuels),

(B) section 4051 [26 USCS § 4051] (relating to retail tax on heavy trucks and trailers),

(C) section 4071 [26 USCS § 4071] (relating to tax on tires),

(D) section 4081 [26 USCS § 4081] (relating to tax on gasoline, diesel fuel, and kerosene), and

(E) section 4481 [26 USCS § 4481] (relating to tax on use of certain vehicles).

For purposes of this paragraph, taxes received under sections 4041 and 4081 [26 USCS §§ 4041 and 4081] shall be determined without reduction for credits under section 6426 [26 USCS § 6426].

(2) Liabilities incurred before October 1, 2011. There are hereby appropriated to the Highway Trust Fund amounts equivalent to the taxes which are received in the Treasury after September 30, 2011, and before July 1, 2012, and which are attributable to liability for tax incurred before October 1, 2011, under the provisions described in paragraph (1).

(3) [Deleted]

(4) Certain taxes not transferred to Highway Trust Fund. For purposes of paragraphs (1) and (2), there shall not be taken into account the taxes imposed by:

(A) section 4041(d) [26 USCS § 4041(d)],

(B) section 4081 [26 USCS § 4081] to the extent attributable to the rate specifspecified in section 4081(a)(2)(B) [26 USCS § 4081(a)(2)(B)],

(C) section 4041 or 4081 [26 USCS § 4041 or 4081] to the extent attributable to fuel used in a train, or

(D) in the case of gasoline and special motor fuels used as described in paragraph (3)(D) or (4)(B) of subsection (c), section 4041 or 4081 [26 USCS § 4041 or 4081] with respect to so much of the rate of tax as exceeds--

(i) 11.5 cents per gallon with respect to taxes imposed before October 1, 2001,

(ii) 13 cents per gallon with respect to taxes imposed after September 30, 2001, and before October 1, 2003, and

(iii) 13.5 cents per gallon with respect to taxes imposed after September 30, 2003, and before October 1, 2005.

(5) Certain penalties. There are hereby appropriated to the Highway Trust Fund amounts equivalent to the penalties paid under sections 6715, 6715A, 6717, 6718, 6719, 6720A, 6725, 7232, and 7272 [26 USCS §§ 6715, 6715A, 6717, 6718, 6719, 6725, 7232, and 7272] (but only with regard to penalties under such section related to failure to register under section 4101 [26 USCS § 4101]).

(6) Limitation on transfers to Highway Trust Fund.

(A) In general. Except as provided in subparagraph (B), no amount may be appropriated to the Highway Trust Fund on and after the date of any expenditure from the Highway Trust Fund which is not permitted by this section. The determination of whether an expenditure is so permitted shall be made without regard to:

(i) any provision of law which is not contained or referenced in this title or in a revenue Act, and

(ii) whether such provision of law is a subsequently enacted provision or directly or indirectly seeks to waive the application of this paragraph.

(B) Exception for prior obligations. Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to any expenditure to liquidate any contract entered into (or for any amount otherwise obligated) before March 5, 2011, in accordance with the provisions of this section.