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Published: Thursday, Feb. 27 2014 12:00 a.m. MST

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Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

I am unclear on what the author's math proves or shows.

Curmudgeon
Salt Lake City, UT

The per-gallon gas tax does allocate the tax burden in rough proportion to a vehicle's weight, since heavier vehicles, which cause greater wear on the roads, use more gas and hence would pay more in taxes. There are other advantages of a per-gallon tax as well: (1) it is paid in small increments each time one fills up, rather than in an annual lump sum at the time of registration; (2) it encourages fuel conservation, since the more gas one uses, the more tax one pays; (3) it is paid by out-of-state visitors (tourists, long-haul truckers, etc.), who use the Utah roads but would not contribute anything if we went to a system where only Utah registered vehicles were taxed.

The only seeming inequity is with all-electric vehicles, who use the roads but pay nothing in taxes. However, that is a de minimus problem because there are so few of them, and I for one am willing to encourage more electric vehicles by allowing them to avoid a road maintenance tax. Think of it as a credit for pollution avoidance.

The Real Maverick
Orem, UT

Huh? This letter makes no sense.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

NO... it should be based on the unladen weight of an American equipped vehicle, plus weight of any aftermarket equipment, minus the weight of the occupants, oh yes... and measure the wear on the inner most tread and send it in with your taxes...

Is this a Monty Python skit!

==

How can you be unclear on the math.. it's math!

Let me simplify it for you even more.

A Prius gets MORE MPG... so you pay less tax/mile
A Hummer gets LESS MPG... so you pay MORE tax/mile

It's simple..... I don't see how it confuses people.

Confusing is a calculation of the tire wear and the average weight of the vehicle, type of driving, emissions inspection results, minus any tax credits, plus income-based brackets for the 1%ers, etc.

And when do you pay the new tax? At the end of the year, based on your own miles driven estimates?

I see no possibility of cheating, mis-estimating, or fraud there. Or does the government get access to our GPS so they can track you and calculate it?

Simpler to pay it at the pump every time you fill up.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

2 Bits,

I am clear on MPG and the weight vs. wear and tear. I simply don't see how the author's example really shows that.

In the example provided the Prius driver pays $14.40 in gas tax to go 3,000 miles. The Escalade driver pays $960.00 to go 60,000 miles. The author provides no comparison on vehicular weight.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Something to think about... the current gas-tax encourages people to drive as efficiently as possible (keep car tuned up, tires inflated, buy car that gets the best mileage, avoid jack-rabbit starts, drive 55 on freeways, etc).

How does tire-wear-tax encourage more efficient cars and driving habits??

===

You must make sure your car is aligned well. But it doesn't matter if you drive a gas hog (as long as your alignment is checked frequently).

If your car is old or has a problem that causes excess tire wear, or low-income person can't afford to have alignments frequently... should highway taxes take advantage of them?

===

I don't see the big problem with the current gas tax.

It's simple (so simple most people don't even notice it). You can't game it. It adjusts naturally for car size, engine size, encourages fuel efficiency...

Measuring tire wear... I see lots of potential problems.

Alignment problem could double your taxes. Who captures your annual wear? What if you sell your car/tires? Must you capture the tire measurements first? Who does it? Were do you measure if wear is uneven, etc....

Curmudgeon
Salt Lake City, UT

2 Bits:

Just out of curiosity, where did the proposal to measure tire wear come from? I haven't heard it except from you. It would be more realistic and feasible to measure miles driven (the safety inspector could just read the odometer each time you have the vehicle inspected for registration).
Likewise, vehicle weight could be taken from readily available manufacturers' specs.

But I do agree the current gas tax is a better alternative than replacing it with a surrogate usage tax based on weight and/or miles driven, or imposing a surcharge on energy-efficient vehicles. See my earlier comment.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Curmudgeon,
It was posted a dozen times yesterday (similar topic) "Letter: Per-gallon tax outdated". Read the comments. Mostly by LDS Liberal, Open Minded Mormon, Arnaut, LDS Tree Hugger... (but they are the same person).

It's just a silly idea if you ask me. But he keeps bringing it up, as if it's brilliant.

Tire wear is a very unreliable formula to replace the gas tax (inaccurate and very difficult to administer).

Can you imagine what the tax would be on each tire... if it has to include the taxes you would have paid in gas over the 60,000 miles it takes to wear out the tire?

One new tire (or getting rid of your old tire) could cost $2000... EACH (if you calculate how much you would have spent in gas taxes over the life of that tire)!

And gas taxes don't only go towards highways. The last gas tax increase was approved to purchasing the pumps on the Great Salt Lake (during the floods of 1983).

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Also not accounted for in the brilliant tire-wear-tax ... What do you do about hard tires manufactured to last 80,000 miles vs soft tires with a sticky composition designed to last 20,000 miles?

What about the R rating? Radial factor, belted, steel belted, bias ply... all wear at different rates.

What about the tire size? hint... small tires go round many more times per mile than larger diameter tires, so small tires wear faster.

This is just a silly system to replace the current gas tax.

===

Car weight... takes ZERO account of how you drive, no efficient driving incentives.

Current gas tax takes all these into account automatically. Drive smart... pay less taxes... and produce less pollution.

Drive a lot... pay a lot. Don't drive... pay nothing. Crazy driver... pay a lot. Drive conservatively... pay less

===

My last post for the day. I hope we realize how silly the tire-wear tax replacing the gas tax is. Tax on weight + miles may work. but no better than a gas tax, and hard to administer.

Gas tax also includes luxury tax (for those who buy premium gas). Not in the other 2.

JoeBlow
Far East USA, SC

2 bits,

I completely agree. The gas tax is easy to administer, difficult to manipulate and pretty much places the tax where it should be.

Heavier vehicles damage the road more and require more gas.

Geez people. Quit trying to complicate this in an effort to save $20 bucks a year.

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