$4 for a gallon of gas? How about reconsidering the gas tax

March 19, 2021 (Deseret News)

But now the Utah Foundation has released a report called “Measuring Miles” that thoroughly examines the issue, as well as its advantages and disadvantages. The beauty of the Utah Foundation is that it is nonpartisan. It is a research organization, not an advocacy group. Its reports examine facts and do not make recommendations.

This report makes it clear that imposing a RUC won’t be simple. The state will need to calibrate the impacts of commercial and private vehicles on roads and charge accordingly. Keeping track of the miles people drive and charging them could require more administrative costs than are necessary to collect gas taxes.

But on the bright side, experiments in various states show drivers could be given a choice of ways to track their miles. They could have a GPS-enabled transponder installed in their cars. If it bothers them to have the state following their whereabouts, they could install a non-GPS transponder, instead, or use a smartphone app that lets them turn GPS on or off. (Using GPS would let tax collectors know when a driver travels out of state and stop counting those miles.)

Or, states might let people simply pay a flat charge that gives them unlimited miles — an advantage for people who drive a lot.

States might even charge people more for driving during peak traffic times, nudging them to reduce the traffic load and eliminating the need for variable toll roads.

None of these would protect gas-car drivers from that roller coaster ride of surging and ebbing fuel prices.

But road usage charges could, if implemented correctly, at least give drivers some control over how much they pay in taxes.

If these are imposed gradually, and on a voluntary basis (except, perhaps, for electric car owners), it shouldn’t take long for people to see and appreciate the difference.

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Referenced Reports