NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Should Lawmakers Raise the Gas Tax?

January 7, 2015

With the money in the Highway Trust Fund dwindling, some lawmakers have been pushing for a higher gasoline tax. Currently, the federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon -- the same level it has been since 1993.

Raising the gas tax might bring in revenue, but Jason Russell of the Washington Examiner cautions lawmakers against it. Last year, Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) proposed raising the gas tax by 12 cents over a two-year period, bringing the federal tax to 30.4 cents. After the 12-cent raise, the gas tax would be tied to inflation, automatically rising as prices rise.

Drivers already pay state gas taxes on top of federal taxes, so the Corker-Murphy proposal, says Russell, would result in drivers paying an average of 53.84 cents per gallon in state and federal gas taxes.

With gas prices dropping, the hike may be appealing to lawmakers, but Russell encourages lawmakers to look at new methods of funding, such as mileage-based fees, to keep highways in shape. Moreover, tying a gas tax increase to inflation, he warns, would result in automatic tax increases devoid of important public debate. 

Source: Jason Russell, "Gas tax hike still a mistake," Washington Examiner, January 6, 2015. 

 

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