Mileage Tax Could Replace Fuel Taxes in Near Future, Lawmakers, Experts Say
By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter
This story appears in the March 2 print edition of Transport Topics.
WASHINGTON — It’s only a matter of time before fuel taxes will be replaced or supplemented with mileage taxes to pay for the nation’s roads, lawmakers and transportation policy experts said.
A switch from fuel to mileage taxes could take place in six years, a pair of U.S. lawmakers said during the annual meeting of the Mileage-Based User Fee Alliance here Feb. 24.
The nation’s infrastructure is falling apart at the same time “the Highway Trust Fund is in a death spiral,” which presents a “magic” moment in which Congress could transform the way we pay for roads and bridges, said Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), a leading advocate of mileage taxes.
House Democratic Caucus
The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates U.S. infrastructure needs will reach $3.6 trillion by the end of the decade.
Blumenauer has introduced a measure to raise the federal gas and diesel taxes 15 cents over three years while testing begins on mileage taxes.
“I think it could be the last time Congress ever has to act to raise the gas tax,” Blumenauer told the gathering of state officials, technology providers and mileage-tax advocates. “Then I want to get rid of the gas tax because it doesn’t work over the long haul.”
The federal tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents a gallon; for diesel, it’s 24.4 cents.
But advances in fuel-efficient cars and trucks have cut into fuel tax revenue, which is used to pay for roads.
Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) told the gathering that if people envision a future in which we use less gasoline and see that as a win for them and the environment, “then the gas tax is a terrible source of
funding for the Highway Trust Fund because [revenue] will keep dropping and dropping.”
Delaney has introduced a bill to “repatriate” the tax money American corporations owe on overseas profits and to use the money to support the trust fund over the next six years.
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