Let’s start taxing more fuel consumption and less income: George Zadigian
ALLIANCE, Ohio – With accelerating climate change and its devastating effects, perhaps now is the time to push to fight this crisis through increased taxes on fuel consumption coupled with lower fuel costs. income taxes. Since taxes not only fund government but are often used to influence behavior, should we continue to tax work and career advancement, which I think we want to incentivize, while leaving the taxation of a product that destroys our artificially low environment?
Since 1993, politicians have chosen to leave the federal gasoline tax at 18.4 cents per gallon. They did so as the purchasing power of highway repair funds fell by 43%, the number of “structurally deficient bridges” reached 45,000 and global warming accelerated significantly. Instead of educating the public about our rotten bridges and the enormity of the damage done to our environment, politicians have not been honest with the American people and led us to meet these burgeoning challenges.
Many of us may balk at the price of gasoline, but it may help to know that while we pay a tax of less than 19 cents per gallon, the tax per gallon in Germany is $ 1.99; in France, $ 2.50; and in England, $ 2.76, according to the Tax Foundation.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why the United States ranks 13th for the overall quality of infrastructure among advanced countries.
Bad road and bridge conditions are not just statistics, they are important safety concerns. Over the past 50 years, 53 bridges have collapsed; from 2000 to 2011, 7,486 road fatalities were attributed to road defects; and potholes cost us about $ 300 per year in damage per vehicle.
To deal with both the deterioration of our infrastructure and the climate crisis, I recommend increasing the price of gasoline, diesel and jet fuels, buying 10 cents per gallon per year for the next 10 years. , and offset this with a corresponding reduction in income taxes.
If the average American vehicle drives 12,000 miles per year, drives 23 miles per gallon, and consumes 520 gallons per year, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates show, the cost of the tax increase on gasoline would only be $ 52 the first year, $ 104 the second year, and so on. The gradual increase in fuel taxes would give individuals and businesses time to adapt and encourage them to buy more fuel efficient vehicles and use other means of transport.
A payroll tax cut equal to the average fuel tax increase should be implemented at the same time for those earning less than $ 2,500 per week. For the working poor, those receiving an earned income tax credit (EITC), the amount of the gas tax increase must be added to their credit. Considering the need to change the EITC disbursement to a weekly credit, I recommend that this be done and that the credit be added to their payroll.
As the needs of our nation evolve, it is essential that we realign tax policies to be in line with those needs. High labor tax rates, especially on overtime; artificially low taxes on road use; and zero taxes on air pollution have hurt us for far too long.
Shifting part of the tax base from income to fuel consumption would encourage work, tackle global warming, create jobs in the auto and road repair industries, and it would not increase labor costs. total taxes for the vast majority of people earning less than $ 130,000 per year. . For our nation to live up to its potential, we must work smarter; no harder.
Finally, as the 2022 midterm election campaign cycle begins, I recommend that we support candidates who are flexible, creative, and willing to put the needs of the people and the nation ahead of vested interests and the status quo. . All of us, but especially us baby boomers, have been fortunate enough to inherit a wonderful highway system and interstate environment. It is imperative that we do all we can to repair and conserve what has been given to us for future generations.
George Zadigian is a semi-retired technical director at Alliance.
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