• Jan 3, 2009
A gas tax is about more than putting liquid into your tank and subtracting a higher amount from your bank account. A gas tax is -- just like CAFE and hybrids and $25 billion set aside to finance fuel efficient technologies -- about reworking and redefining our entire system of private transportation. And since that system is most certainly going to redefined, it is no surprise that the National Commission on Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing has recommended a jump in the federal fuel tax.
Congress created the commission to examine the federal taxes on fuel -- currently 18.4 cents for gas and 24 cents for diesel -- and the commission came back with the same results as everyone else: people are driving less, and driving more fuel efficient cars, and that has killed revenue for transportation infrastructure. One member of the commission said, "I'm not excited about a gas tax increase, but the reality is our current gas tax doesn't pay for upkeep of the system we have now. We can either let the roads go to hell or we can pay more." If the roads go to hell, though, guess what? We're going to pay more, but that money will go to service departments and auto parts stores.

The proposed solution is to make the gasoline fuel tax 24.4 cents, and the diesel tax between 36 and 39 cents. That would begin to make up for the $105 billion difference between actual revenues and the money needed to upkeep our roads and highways. It is conceivable that a higher gas tax could also encourage people to buy those high-mileage vehicles the government keeps commanding Detroit to make. But before that happens, it will probably just make a lot of people anguished and angry.

[Source: CNBC]


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  • 96 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Apparently my first comment didn't post. Lemme try again:

      Why on earth is the gas tax going up 6 cents (roughly 30%), but the diesel tax is going up 12 - 15 cents (roughly 50%)?

      Didn't we learn that when the cost of diesel is a LOT higher than gas, delivery prices skyrocket?
        • 6 Years Ago
        Very good question. I can see that diesel tax should be a bit more because one can travel more miles with diesel based on energy content. I think a doubling of the tax is unfair.

        I thought I would get a diesel in a few years but with current diesel prices being about 6-70 cents higher than gasoline, it negates any efficiency gains one gets by driving a diesel.

        On the other hand, once the world goes all Mad Max on us, I will at least be able to drive a car using algae. Maybe I ought to get a diesel Hummer.
        • 6 Years Ago
        no
      • 6 Years Ago
      Europe is also half the size of America...with the majority of public transportation in big cities
        • 6 Years Ago
        True. Go to France outside Paris (well, outside the Ile de France). There are only a few large cities with good public transportation. The rest might as well be Ohio.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why more for diesels?

      I understand that most of the wear on roads comes from semis but that is why weight stations exist to charge based on the amount of weight. (more weight, more wear)
      • 6 Years Ago
      From the comments I've read, some think this tax is meant to reduce consumption. My understanding is that we ARE driving LESS due to the $4.50 prices over the summer. Now state and federal govt is going broke due to our lower consumption. Don't forget windfall profits for oil companies also mean huge tax revenue for government. Don't be fooled by the "reduce our addiction" nonsense...we did that..cold turkey.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Jimmy Carter and a Democrat controlled congress implemented a 'windfall profits tax' on oil companies. Tax revenues went down, not up. Oil companies saw that any sales past a certain dollar value did not return any greater profit, as the windfall profits tax absorbed it all. Oil companies then reduced the amount of product being brought to market, creating shortages. The results of a windfall profits tax? Higher prices ($3.00 / gal in 1980 [adjusted for inflation]), lower tax revenues and product shortages.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is diesel taxed more than gasoline? What about ethanol, I guess that is -80% right now? With diesel and gasoline mature technologies why do they have different tax rates?

      The only reason I can see for that is to steer people to gasoline over diesel, which would make sense historically with different emission standards, but these days they pollute the same. Why is the US government trying to push consumers towards gas over diesel instead of letting consumers choose what they want to pay fuel up on?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Commission: people are driving less, and driving more fuel efficient cars, and that has killed revenue for transportation infrastructure.

      No, what has killed revenue for the transportation infrastructure is Congress not spending the gasoline tax revenues on infrastructure.

      Congress routinely spends taxes levied for project-X and spends them on project-Y (Social Security? IOUs. Medicare trust fund? IOUs. etc., etc. etc.)

      Think about it - if people are more fuel efficient and driving less, than the infrastructure needs _less_ upkeep and new construction - DUH!

      This is another land-grand reach into our collective pockets. I can't wait to see this Congress and Administration hand-in-hand rubber stamping it. Yep, Change We Can Believe In.



        • 6 Years Ago
        Because the truth of the matter, large trucking does most of the road damage. We subsidize much of this damage via our gas taxes.

        The rail industry fell on hard times because they couldn't compete with the advantages of a trucking industry who's negative impact is subsidized away in large part by the general public.
        • 6 Years Ago
        jpm100: if true*, that is an excellent point that I never heard of before. I'm going to be doing some research on it - thanks for bringing a new, enlightening point to the debate!

        (* not casting aspersions, I just never heard it before and - well - you shouldn't believe everything you read on a forum :) )



      • 6 Years Ago
      Dear autoblog:
      I respectfully submit that you stop putting up articles like this. It was a good experiment, but it appears it attracts the type of person who thinks name calling of other autoblog posters is acceptable (see v-caddy's post above).

      You may like content, because it drives hits. But in the long run you have to wonder if subjecting your readers to this is good for the health of the site. You might be better off without these type of articles.
      • 6 Years Ago
      they give gm and chrysler a loan then raise gas prices so less people buy new cars. at least wait untill the ecomomy is back retards. wtf?
        • 6 Years Ago
        They should tax it now and when it goes back up and we all know it will, then get rid of it. It is a shame that my kids will inherit a bankrupt social security and over 15 trillion in debt. People are complaining about taxes now, no one seems to remember the rate during Reagan or Kennedy. Please, our taxes are low and thanks to Bush my taxes are extremely low. I am a Republican but oil is a matter of National Security ask anyone. In FL there is a 37 cent tax on gas already. Not to mention Miami roads have potholes that swallow Smart Cars.
      • 6 Years Ago
      So let's look at this from another perspective. If the goal is to truly reduce our dependency on oil, why improve the roads? Won't that encourage people to drive more? Or does the government really just want to engineer the economy to generate more revenue for other purposes? The government needs to pass on the true cost of gasoline (and diesel) and remove existing subsidies before adding arbitrary and regressive taxes. They are manipulating the market and preventing it from working as it should. They tax us for a military that protects corporations so they can drill and then they tax us again so we can use their products. The only winners here are the government and oil companies.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Yes it is an absurd argument. Just as absurd as the proposal. That was the point.
        • 6 Years Ago
        What a silly argument. Better roads mean fewer cars break and thus overall energy saved. Besides, what point would there be to make it tougher to drive cars so we could save on gas, which is only used in those cars anyway?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I believe the correct form and usage is "sons of bitches". Your noun and object of the preposition relating to the noun must be in plural must be in agreement.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is the tax different for diesel and regular gas?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Dear Tree Huggers,

      Thank you for pushing your personal agenda on the rest of us even tho the scientific community is still at limbo as to all the causes and effects of green house gases in determining whats the biggest contributing factor in CO2 which is not cars. It's actually Coal that powers the grid for your precious electric cars. Thank you for being know it alls with out PHD's. Thank you for having such great marketing in devoting Actors following your cause for personal image gains and dumb founded politicians using your cause to find a way to squeeze more money out of the public.Thank you for pushing for more fuel efficient cars to save more gas since gas prices were going to high and thanks again for causing the result which will cause gas prices to go higher regardless of the fact. You guys are f*cking Great! Thank you for looking out for my best interest in becoming independent on foreign oil because the fuel embargo of yesterday might happen again ::rolls eyes:: even tho we sit on more oil that we haven't tapped because we are smart in using up someone else oil first...Thanks again for raising the cost of energy in the US.

      Last but not least Thank You for flipping the paradox that you created on us. Bet You didn't think this one tru did you? Off course you never do you're fun loving peace around the world pot head hippies! hating on the rest of us that actualy have good jobs for a living and could afford big V8s which were toooo menacing compared to your VW Transport Hybrid Van and felt you needed to do something about it.

      Luv you guys
        • 6 Years Ago
        Charlie

        you and I know that if that were true we would be pumping oil out of Alaska and more from the Gulf and other regions that the US has control over which is known to be oil. But the enviro tree buggers have a strong support to appose that. Personally I think I see the big picture and the US as a whole wants to consume everyone else resources b4 we tapped into out own.

        The coal that is being used to power the grid 50% like u said, even with all the gadgets used to trap some of it, it is still the biggest culprit.

        We need the oil whether we like it or not and what we don't need is to be taxed on it higher because we are consuming it less... creating a Paradox...
        • 6 Years Ago
        See my math above. We sit on 1,100 days of oil. You are deluding yourself if you think we can survive without foreign oil at current consumption rates.
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