Is there such a thing as a good tax? Some would claim that all taxes are bad, and that government should strive to make taxes as low as possible. Other believe that any tax is good provided that it is paid by wealthy individuals and large businesses. Both points of view are incorrect.
A good tax is one where the revenue is spent effectively and efficiently in the best interest of the tax payers. Property taxes paid in the city of Maricopa in recent years contained amounts that paid off the cost of creating the Copper Sky Recreation Center and the school district (MUSD) override. Copper Sky obviously benefits the citizens who use the facility for exercise, meetings, classes, etc. and the override allowed the MUSD to purchase needed technology which allowed students to be able to learn remotely during the pandemic.
As politicians debate how to pay for the needed infrastructure, there is one good tax that would cover the cost of repairing and constructing highways and bridges. The federal gasoline excise tax is a “use” tax, folks who buy gasoline and pay the tax, drive on the highways which use the tax revenues. The current tax is 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline, and has been the same since Oct. 1, 1993.
Inflation since 1993 has stripped more than half of the value of a 1993 dollar. Gasoline miles per gallon has increased in the interim, which means drivers are buying less gasoline for the same amount of driving using cheaper dollars. The cost of highway construction has increased drastically, primarily due to the cost of buying land for right-of-way, especially in urban and suburban locales.
If the tax rate was doubled, it would mean that a driver who bought 100 gallons of gasoline per month would pay $18.40 more each month. Doubling the excise tax should provide all the monies needed for highway and bridge repair and construction. One person standing in the way is President Joe Biden, who has stated that nobody earning less than $400,000 will pay an additional tax. He could simply amend that statement by adding “no additional income tax,” thus allowing the enhanced use tax.
Is Washington going to wait until fatal accidents accelerate due to unsafe roads and deteriorating bridges begin to collapse? Raise the excise tax and fund the infrastructure that will make our nation productive and safe.