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More Highway Robbery

At the National Taxpayers Union’s blog, Government Bytes, Michael Tasselmyer provides a detailed write-up yesterday of “pay-per-mile tax proposals.” The lede of his write-up:

“As the push for more fuel efficient transportation intensifies, U.S. officials are warning of major future deficits for the Highway Trust Fund, established in 1956 to support the construction and maintenance of the Interstate Highway System.

“The Highway Trust Fund is financed through transportation-related excise taxes, the most significant of which is the federal gasoline tax. However, as fuel efficiency standards become stricter and Americans head to the pump less often, gas tax collections are expected to decrease over the next decade, and federal transportation funds could face substantial long-term deficits. A May 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office showed that at 2012 spending and taxation levels, the Highway Trust Fund is looking at a $147 billion shortfall by 2022. After factoring in a 21-percent reduction in gas tax receipts due to increased fuel efficiency standards, that deficit increases to $204 billion.

“The CBO determined that the government has 3 options to address the looming problem:

  • Reduce transportation spending;
  • Transfer money from the Treasury's general fund; or
  • Levy additional taxes.”

Tasselmyer also cites a December 2012 report from the U.S. General Accountability Office (GAO) on the Highway Trust Fund, noting that GAO “examined some of the costs and benefits of three different types of mileage tax methods: GPS, "pay-at-the-pump," and prepaid systems.” According to Tasselmyer:

“The GAO report modeled the effect of a 0.9 to 2.2 cent per mile tax on a typical American driver, and found that even at those levels, taxpayers could expect to pay $108 to $248 per year in fees. Currently, the average driver pays about $96 in gas taxes each year. That would mean an increase of at least 12.5% in annual transportation expenses for the typical driver if Congress decides to follow through on these proposals.” (emphasis added)

Separately, in an online Washington Examiner article posted in “Washington Secrets” yesterday (HT Mark Levin Show), Paul Bedard begins:

“An on-again, off-again move by the Obama administration to scrap the federal gas tax in favor of a pay-per-mile fee would boost the tab to Americans as high as 250 percent, raising their current tax of 18.4 cents a gallon to as high as 46 cents, according to a new government study.”

Bedard concludes his “Washington Secrets” article writing:

“The administration floated that plan in the first term, but scrapped it when it was met with public outrage. However, several states and some in Congress are now eyeing the plan, keeping it alive as a federal option.”

If politicians and government bureaucrats would only make the same efforts to reduce the cost of government services as they do at finding new ways to raise the burdens on productive taxpayers, America would be a more prosperous nation.

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