Comments about ‘Natalie Gochnour: Time to raise Utah's motor fuel tax’

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Published: Friday, Feb. 7 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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J Thompson

Some of these posts are entertaining. One poster tells us that he thinks raising the gas tax is a wonderful idea, then we find out that he avoids paying taxes for fuel, then he accuses someone of cheating on taxes when he wrote: "I know you take Federal and State taxdeductions (six). Therefore, you are not paying taxes."

Huh? What, exactly is his logic?

Do those who use motor vehicles on the roads add to the wear of the roads? Isn't the fuel tax the method that Utah and the Federal Government use to charge those who use the roads a "use tax"? Is there a "use" line on the State Income Tax form (TC-40)? Would that apply to those who like Open Minded Mormon/LDS Liberal who have converted a vehicle to use vegetable oil to get around paying fuel taxes?

Of course this is facetious, and maybe even a little irritating, but when someone is enthused about others paying a higher tax and we discover that he doesn't pay fuel tax, shouldn't he expect to be "ribbed" a little?

NotInMiami, FL

procuradorfiscal: "Standard liberal line. Government can never live within any limits. It's got to continue unreasonable, unsustainable growth."

While I believe that the government should decrease its reach, scope, and size, your statement isn't quite accurate. The article pointed out reasons why it's not necessarily about unreasonable, unsustainable growth - more fuel efficient vehicles result in less tax money coming in (people buy fewer gallons of gas). This is offset by population growth but population growth also puts more wear and tear on roads. Cars are lighter now on average than they were in the late 60s and early 70s but are heavier than they were in the 80s (i.e., cars are getting heavier). Plus, there are many more trucks (personal and commercial) than there were in the past. This places a larger burden on the roads.

Increase gas efficiency, subtract off inflation and you are left with less money to take care of roads - all without the government having any growth. Maybe the government news to cut back spending but declining revenue doesn't mean spending is increasing.

Gilbert, AZ

Nobody wants to drive those unsafe petite fuel efficient cars. Raising the gas tax only means more debt for the average consumer and thus you are taking money away from piano lessons, sports participation etc. Add to that the fact that now companies have to pay more for transportation and the burden on the consumer is elevated.

I would love to see Salt Lake and Provo open up bicycle freeways. There is no reason to be driving a car on those beautiful spring, summer and fall days in Utah. This will also cut down on pollution and obesity. There will also be less wear and tear on the transportation infrastructures that way.

The legislature should give tax incentives for people to work at home. The people who would work at home are the ones with families and thus large gas using vehicles.

J Thompson

@The Real Maverick,

It's interesting to try to follow your thought process. You certainly assume a lot about people that you don't seem to know very well. You accused Mike Richards of "coveting". That would be a strange accusation if you knew Mike Richards. Some of us have had dealings with him. Several people, including me, use his computer networks in our businesses, without charge. He lets us remotely log in to his system with VNC, just like I'm doing right now, so that we can run our businesses from anywhere - at his expense. He has given thousands of hours freely to help small businessmen. He seems to have little use for money. He seems to march to a different tune than most of us. His income is not "poor", but the amount that he keeps would probably put him very close to the poverty level. He doesn't measure worth in dollars and cents.

He let's us call him any time, day or night and he helps us solve some very technical problems, usually without charge. Until you know him personally, you may want to reserve judgement.

Centerville, UT

Vegatables do not cause cancer, they cure it.

Air Emissions and Health Risks from Vegetable Oil Burning

The American Lung Association in Massachusetts views biomass burning as a significant source of air pollution For vulnerable populations, such as people with asthma, chronic respiratory disease, and those with cardiovascular disease, biomass and diesel emissions are particularly harmful. Even short exposures can prove deadly. these small particles end up deep in the lungs where they remain for months, causing structural damage and chemical changes. In some cases the particle can move through the lungs and penetrate the bloodstream.

A study commissioned the US Department of Agriculture which has been submitted for peer-review suggests that emissions of carcinogenic and mutagenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) are three times higher in the case of straight vegetable oil burning compared to biodiesel or mineral diesel burning. …a previous trial shows increased formaldehyde emissions. Formaldehyde is one of the PAH emitted from burning vegetable oil, others are acetaldehyde and benzopyrene

Burning fossil fuels or biomass (including vegetable oil) emits small particulates, including PM 10 and PM 2.5.

they may be even worse as far as nitrous oxide and carcinogenic and mutagenic PAH emissions are concerned.

Provo, UT

The gas tax increase would hammer rural Utah, where gas is already far more expensive, and people get paid less. But usually have to drive farther. I live in rural Utah, and my fuel prices are already ten to twenty cents a gallon more than what you can get in Provo. Slapping on another tax on top of that? When just going to the store is a 15 mile round trip? And the average income here is hovering close to minimum wage? Why do you liberals who advocate raising gas taxes hate rural people so much?

Centerville, UT

So maybe the better tax would be to tax annual mileage the car travels. This way electric vehicles will be taxed as well as the vegi diesel, and the stadard gas vehicle.

Centerville, UT

as a private business owner,
I know you take Federal and State tax deductions.
Therefore, you are not paying taxes.

income taxes are based on net income not gross income. You as an employee are not being taxed for the full cost of employing you. If the company pays for your continuing and updating education, (income to you) you are not paying taxes on that. If the company provides you parking while you are at work (income to you) you are not paying taxes on that. there are a lot of items paid for your benefit of having a job you are not taxed on. The total income package after deductions comes down to what you report on your w2. A business man only pays tax on net income just as you do.

Morgan Duel
Taylorsville, UT

Raise taxes on gas, then it will be on food, then your property, does the greed of government never stop!! What about those on limited income like social security, which the government is now taxing, money that you paid a tax on already! Seems like those who are elected should look very close at what happened to George H W Bush when he said no new taxes and then raised taxes.

How much longer do you want to stay in power? The Cheese has moved time to start looking and thinking out of the box!!

Provo, UT

Real conservatives who understand the economy, like Greg Mankiw (Romney's main economic adviser and chair of Harvard econ department), support large increases in the gas tax. We shouldn't have a single cent of transportation spending coming from any other source.

Asking for a low gas tax isn't a free-market move, it's asking the government to subsidize your road use. If there are public roads they should be paid for by their users, and the gas tax is a much better way than tolls- easier to collect, more convenient for users, and it automatically takes into account costs like the wear and tear heavier vehicles cause.

The distorted incentives caused by subsidizing road use are crippling our transportation system with congestion, crippling our air quality, and crippling our state's financial future as the billions spent by UDOT has to come from somewhere.

The gas tax should be substantially raised and then tied to inflation.

(Proposals to make the gas tax a constant fraction of the price of gas are much worse than inflation indexing, as they amplify the bad effects of volatility in gas prices.)

Springville, UT

To me, I find it outrageous to propose hire taxes at a time of profound economic malaise and already high prices on heavily taxed gasoline. If you're attempting to shut down motor vehicle usage, then your proposal makes sense. Utahns have a prevalent history of accepting tax hike proposals. So go ahead and throw it out there. Chances are it will stick. You'll be certain to gain the backing of the local media.

Durham, NC

"Raise taxes on gas, then it will be on food, then your property, does the greed of government never stop!! "

I agree... how dare they ask us to pay for things like roads, public safety, and transportation infrastructure. It should all be free.... right? And those increases in social security that are added in every year... how ridicules is that! They should freeze the level of those checks for 18 years too.... with no possibility of increase too.

Phoenix, AZ

Natalie, don you think you should tell us if there's a deficit or surplus in the state highway fund before taking the position that gas taxes should be increased?

Bountiful, UT

I've been working on my logic and debate skills. Let me try this out:

According to Ronald Reagan, and the economist Arthur Laffer, if we *decrease* the tax on gasoline, it will stimulate the economy in other ways... in fact, it may increase economic prosperity so much that people will become rich, and they'll be traveling more by helicopter, thereby lessening the wear and tear on the roadways.

A gasoline tax *decrease* is what we need.

(How did I do? Do you think I would get a standing ovation at a convention of conservatives?)

Brer Rabbit
Spanish Fork, UT

I agree. A modest increase is necessary. Those who oppose paying for things generally get what they pay for. Funds shouldn't be taken from the general fund which shorts everything, but public education which is funded primarily from the state income tax. In my opinion no money should be taken from the general fund, and if there is no increase in the fuel tax, cut road construction and repair until they can be paid for. In addition there should be no funding for mass transit or bike paths from the money from the fuel tax, until there is a surplus to pay for these.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Conservative thinking thus --

When local Government [for the people, by the people] proposes raising gasoline a few pennies a gallon for local infrastructure it's ROBBERY, Tyranny!

When Business raises gasoline a few DOLLARS a gallon for profit [for the wealthy, by the wealthy] it's called good business practice!

How's that?


I don't know how fair the gas tax in Utah is. I read it was 24.5 c per gallon; this might be out of date or not. I noticed it was neither the lowest or highest in the nation but was well above the lowest. I also noticed that "other taxes" are levied almost everywhere including in Utah; you need to check the figures if you are interested.

I do recall, though, that in Olene Walker's day a law was proposed in Utah (and I think passed) that enabled Utah government to raid the gas taxes for other purposes. This has stuck in my mind since it suggested that our "user tax" may be used for other things than road repair, and that the tax was more than enough to repair the roads. Information please.

Utah Soldier
Bountiful, UT

LDS Liberal,

Businesses do not raise gas prices a few Dollars for profit. Oil and Gas companies make about a 3% profit. Compare this to 8% for Fast Food establishments.

Gas is an interesting commodity that is traded on markets. Not only that, but Middle eastern countries have nationalize their oil/gas companies such that the higher oil is, the better of these countries are.

Your fingers are pointed in the wrong direction.

Springville, UT

@LDS Liberal

I will hand it to you, your comments are consistent. They advocate a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the government, and in which all economic and social activity is controlled by the government.

As such, it's no surprise that you support the government profiting through taxation and have no tolerance for an individual or business making a profit.

I had an uncle who had the same beliefs. He was a member of the communist party.

Diligent Dave
Logan, UT

Perhaps while gas prices have gone down some compared to where they've been in the past year or two, this might be a good time. I'd rather spend money on building new and better roads than on interest.

That said, it has long been interesting to me that overall, government and quasi-governmental entities have almost always increase rates as inflation has driven them up. But while they've increased their share of the take from the total "pie", others, in particular individuals whose wages don't increase, and small businesses have actually seen significant actual, not to mention cost-of-living adjusted wages. My point is, no single entity, including any level of government, should receive greater increases than the size of the total economic pie increases. Otherwise, someone else has to take either an immediate hit, or go into debt.

Apparently, Utah has gone into debt, which is not good. Education always gets increases, because so many people are in education (teachers, administrators, other employees), and they get a lot of non-employed sympathizers. Truth is though, we get, overall, far less bang for our education buck than increases should have given us!

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