Letter: Per-gallon tax outdated


Return To Article
  • SG in SLC Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 10:09 a.m.

    Honestly, road construction and maintenance funding needs to come from a number of different usage-based sources, to make the burden more fair, and to essentially act as a hedge against decreases in a particular funding source.

    There should probably be an annual fee that is based on vehicle weight, to address the cost of road deterioration related to vehicle size and weight.

    The Federal Excise Tax (FET) on tires should probably be revised to be a flat, uniform tax per tire. This would be a proxy for a mileage-based tax (more miles driven = more tire wear = more frequent FET payment), and would also factor in size and weight (larger/heavier vehicle = more wheels/tires and faster tire wear).

    Toll roads and turnpikes should probably be in the equation, too. They are essentially a mileage-based user fee, and have the added benefit of incentivizing use of less congested (albeit less convenient) routes versus more congested ones.

    And finally, I think that there still needs to be a "per-gallon" gas tax, because gasoline is a scarce commodity and a dirty fuel, and besides raising revenue for road construction, a gas tax incentivizes fuel efficiency.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Feb. 26, 2014 7:58 a.m.

    A Quaker
    Brooklyn, NY
    You know... miles per vehicle and vehicle weight could be captured very simply. Just tax tires.


    The only problem with that is some tires are rated at 35,000 miles,
    some are rated at 80,000 miles.

    And some people rotate tires 2 at a time, instead of 4 at a time.

    I could also just swap tires before inspection to avoid the tax.

    Just saying.

    I think the tax per gallon is the best answer.

    And until gas hits $7-$8 a gallon like Europe and Asain pays,
    American's really have nothing to complain about.

  • A Quaker Brooklyn, NY
    Feb. 26, 2014 4:33 a.m.

    You know... miles per vehicle and vehicle weight could be captured very simply. Just tax tires. So much per size, so much per pound, so much per remaining tread on cars being registered for the first time.

  • No One Of Consequence West Jordan, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:17 p.m.

    If paying less in fuel and fuel tax is incentive enough then everyone will eventually drive smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient cars. As a result our state won't have enough fuel tax money to maintain the roads. The point will come when the per-mile tax will replace the per-gallon tax. The legislature won't have any other choice.

    But people don't really chose their car by the amount of gas tax they will pay, do they?

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 10:38 p.m.

    Those who love the 'greener' products sure are anxious to find a way to punish people for driving 'green' cars.

  • SLars Provo, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 6:16 p.m.

    2 bits

    Wyoming has no income tax, they tax only 10% of the property for property taxes, and the state sales tax is only 4%.

    Most of their income comes from oil, gas an mineral extraction.

    Gas companies pass the taxes on to us at the pump either way. It was a tongue in cheek support for continuing taxing gas by the gallon.

    Any questions on why the rich are moving to Jackson Hole and the surrounding areas?

  • Crusader Layton, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 4:28 p.m.

    "Miles driven per year and vehicle weight" I do not care to share that much personal information with the government.

  • Crusader Layton, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 4:26 p.m.

    I don't care to share that much personal information with the government.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 2:39 p.m.

    Is this sort of like the HOV lanes were built with taxpayers taxes,
    and then the rich can simply "buy up" and not have to be like everyone else?

    Ya -- I saw this one coming 1,000 miles away too.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 2:15 p.m.

    What if there was just one tax for Americans to pay that would pay for all government and all community services, highways, law enforcement etc. etc. etc. And that one flat rate tax was based upon a persons income and applied to every man, women and child in the United States of America and those who derive their income from American business, without exception without deduction and was collected automatically as it was earned so that no tax return or even knowledge of it was with the individual.

    And that grand sum was divided according to the people count for local, county, and state governments with the rest for the national government to provide for public highways and protection. People could decide for themselves how big or small and how many local governments they need.

  • Jon W. Murray, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:43 p.m.

    Except for the part about owning a Prius, this is the letter that I was going to write, but I never got around to it. I agree - a fair user fee (tax) for highway maintenance should be based on miles driven and vehicle weight. While a tax on fuel used to be a good analogy for that formula, it no longer is, and I hope it's even a worse analogy in the future.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:43 p.m.

    RE: "Go to the source, tax the oil companies for the extracted oil and gas."...


    What a hoot LOL. Classic oblivious lefty rhetoric.

    If you just tax the oil companies.... don't you think they will pass that right along to the consumer??

    If you tax the oil producer 55 cents/gallon... don't you think they are smart enough to just charge 55 cents more per gallon at the pump??

    So who ends up paying your brilliant tax? The evil oil company? Or you and me?

    You gotta think about these things past the "I hate oil companies" level rhetoric to come up with a real idea.

  • SLars Provo, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:20 p.m.

    Go to the source, tax the oil companies for the extracted oil and gas.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:18 p.m.

    Thinkin\' Man,
    ALL vehicles (not just big trucks) wear pavement and contribute to potholes and their growth. Otherwise we would never need to maintain neighborhood streets (and obviously they need frequent repairs and maintenance). Legacy Highway (which prohibits trucks) would never need maintenance (and obviously we still have to maintain it).

    Trucks contribute more, but every tire that rolls on that surface produces some wear.


    How are you going to base the tax on weight? The weight of the car/truck or the weight of the load/passengers? How many people know what their car weighs (for filling out their tax forms)?? How many know the weight of the load/passengers (which will vary every trip, and can double the weight of the vehicle)?

    A vehicle weight based tax would be full of fraud and totally unverifiable.

    A gas tax is simple, and takes load weight into account automatically (because it takes more gas to move a large load).

  • Allisdair Thornbury, Vic
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:11 p.m.

    Fit all vehicles with a GPS and charge distance traveled by time of day and location. That is if you are driving downtown in peak hour then you pay more than if you are driving in the country. This combined with a moderate tax on each gallon is fair. It costs a fortune to build a mile of freeway compared to a mile in the country.

    Having thrown in a fire cracker I will stand back for the reaction LOL.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:05 p.m.

    I don't know why this website keeps switching from reading posts to full website, but it needs to be fixed.

    Read the Utah State Constitution. We have agreed to pay for education but we have not agreed to pay for unlimited use of our roads without paying.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 25, 2014 12:58 p.m.


    Read the Utah State Constitution. We have agreed to fund education, but we have not agreed to allow anyone to use our roads without payind

  • Thinkin\' Man Rexburg, ID
    Feb. 25, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    Fuel tax should be based on gross vehicle weight because only heavy vehicles (commercial trucks) do any real wear to the roads. Weather does the rest. A compact car could drive on a paved road in a climate-controlled environment for decades without doing any appreciable wear.

    How to implement this tax, I don't know! That's the hard part. Somehow, it should still be at the pump.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:57 a.m.

    Mr Richards,

    Your consistency is sorely lacking.

    Funny how you defend tax breaks for school funding while demanding that users of the road should pay their fair share.

    I think use taxes are the way to go. But I like them across the board. No cherry picking needed.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:06 a.m.

    Open Minded Mormon,
    I'm a Conservative, and I like the current flat tax (so the less you drive, the less gas you buy, and the less tax you pay).

    I also like the current tax structure because it is a natural incentive for people to drive more efficient cars (then you get taxed less for every mile you drive).

    In a tax-per-mile scheme... there is no incentive to drive a more efficient car. You get charged the same tax regardless of how efficient your car is. All cars get taxed the same for each mile (regardless of how efficient they are). That's not right.


    You seem quick to judge people, and group them, and assume you know what they are thinking (based on some political rhetoric-based stereotypes you have for people).

    I think your stereotypes are dated and need to be updated.

    I like the current gas tax. It is fair... and it encourages people to drive less, and drive as efficiently as they can (to preserve their $$$).

    What incentive is there to get a tuneup, hybrid, or drive slower, if you're taxed just on the miles you roll? Not the gas you consume?

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 11:02 a.m.


    It took a long time for me to figure out what this...

    "Why should we have to pay 4 cents a mile when someone who drives 60,000 miles a year pays only .2 cents per mile?"

    meant but I think the numbers match up to a yearly registration fee of 120 dollars a year.

    @Mike (letter writer, not Richards)
    But why would you want a per mile basis? If your Prius got twice the gas mileage then you'd be paying twice as much per gallon as others while doing less damage to the roads (lower weight) or air (less emissions).

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Feb. 25, 2014 10:22 a.m.

    You would think conservatives would be all over this.

    User tax at a fixed rate is a Tea-Party tax dream come true.

    Burn less gas,
    Pay less taxes,
    keep more money for yourself.

    But no!
    Now they want to increase the taxes on the "other guy",
    so they can keep burning more gasoline and creating more pollution.

    Talk about making Evil good, and Good Evil....

    Not to mention the 180 dgree, about face on taxes.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 9:46 a.m.

    So what they are saying is either they don't drive the Prius enough (3000 miles a year? You must be kidding. Why have the car at all?), or they think that my big truck should pay more. Personally, I'd rather be in a traffic accident with my nice 3/4 ton pickup than in the little battery loaded Prius.

    I think that due to the possiblilites of hazardous waste problems from the batteries, not driving enough, and firefighters getting shocked due to the batteries when in an accident, the Prius owners ought to pay more in gas taxes.

  • george of the jungle goshen, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 8:20 a.m.

    Don't give-em any ideas. Once there a tax on it, it isn't going away. There will be more taxes tho.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 8:15 a.m.

    I don't get some of these Prius owner's concerns. The arguments in the letter were counter-intuitive to me. Maybe they can help explain them.

    1. In a flat-tax per gallon of gas... how does another driver pay 2 cents/mile, while a Prius driver pays 4 cents/mile?? I thought a Prius got BETTER mileage than other cars, not 2 times LESS miles/gallon than other cars.

    2. The Prius owners seem like the ones who are getting away without paying their fair share of highway taxes (in the gas tax scenario). Because they drive many more miles on our highways and pay much less in gas taxes. Because they are a hybrid they are supposed to get more miles/gallon. So more miles/Tax-Dollar.

    Hybrids and electric cars are the reason gas-tax no longer works. Because they are free-loading. Driving more miles, and putting more wear and tear on the highways... but not paying for it (because they buy little gas for the miles of wear and tear they put on the roads).

    I don't see why they want a per-mile tax.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Feb. 25, 2014 8:13 a.m.

    Many tourists visit Utah every year. They use our roads and they pay a fuel tax, per gallon, for that use, just as we do. Some cars use less fuel than others. Some use no gasoline or diesel at all. There should be a means to collect a "use" tax, if not for all drivers, at least for those living in Utah.

    If we assume that the 24.5 cents per gallon represents about one-cent per mile driven for the average car (24.5 miles per gallon), then wouldn't it be proper to require all Utah drivers to pay one-cent per mile driven? If they have a high-efficiency vehicle, they should pay a "use" tax when they file their income tax based on the miles driven. It would amount to $3.00 for the letter writer. If I had a high-efficiency vehicle, it would amount to $60.00 because I have to drive a significant number of miles every year.

  • Curmudgeon Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 6:25 a.m.

    Thanks for writing, Mike. As another Prius owner, I can only say Amen!

    Make the taxes for road maintenance reflect actual usage of and wear on the roads. Weight and miles driven are the primary determinants of relative impact on the roads. Make tax rates reflect that reality. It's only fair.

    In addiiton, tax policy should encourage, not discourage, energy efficiency and low emissions. Give a discount for low emissions and energy efficiency, rather than penalizing those values.

    The same philosophy should inform the legislature's decisions about funding schools and subsidizing citizens' use of solar energy. Sadly, the Republicans are too entrenched in backward-think, too beholden to powerful special interests, to see the parallels.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 6:00 a.m.

    But how much has green energy contributed to your representative.

    This isn't about what's fair, good for utah, or raising money. It's about control. Dirty energy has contributed a lot more to your representation than green energy. They hate hybrids. And will stop at nothing to punish you for it.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    Feb. 25, 2014 1:45 a.m.

    Taxes per gallon is more relevant now than ever. If we charge per mile instead of per gallon, this encourages more air pollution and more unnecessary use of our finite resources. It encourages gas guzzlers and people not keeping their cars properly tuned. It discourages high efficient cars. I can't believe this idea is being given serious consideration.,