WASHINGTON, D.C.—- Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) would like to declare its unequivocal support for the repeal of the harsh and unfair 4.3 cents per gallon federal gasoline tax. Admittedly, decrying a "meager" tax of 4.3 cents may strike some as much ado about nothing. But every time we drive to work, to school, to the store, our hard-earned money evaporates. As gasoline becomes increasingly, even scandalously, expensive, this tax adds insult to injury for America\’s drivers. Moreover, transportation taxes in general penalize Americans, who are overtaxed enough as it is, for simply going about as needed to live their lives.
Let\’s first consider the 4.3 cents tax\’s impact on a hypothetical-but by no means atypical-working mother. Let\’s say she drives a new Ford Windstar minivan, which gets 17 miles per gallon (23 mpg on the highway), and let\’s remember that the average combined tax on a gallon of gasoline is 35 cents (that is, state, local, and federal taxes altogether).
She drives 3 miles on local roads from home to drop her two children off at school. She then drives 14 miles, again on local roads, to get to work. The 4.3 cents tax on her daily roundtrip journey, which she takes 180 days a year, costs her $15.48 annually-and that\’s not including the taxes she pays for all the other trips she takes in a year! The $15.48 taken by the federal government is basically one less delivery ordered pizza she can buy for her family, all because she drove her kids to school and herself to work. And the combined gasoline tax on her daily driving routine? It costs her an astonishing one hundred and twenty-six dollars.
She thinks the $15.48 she has been charged by the federal government is supposed to be paying for road construction and improvement. Instead, once her money is sent to Washington, there\’s a very good chance it will pay largely for pork. For example, the Transportation Equity Act passed for the 1999 fiscal year included such highly questionable expenditures as $4,850,000 for bus programs at Georgetown University, $2 million for a volcano monitor, and $800,000 for pedestrian walkways at the University of North Alabama. She paid $15.48 for that? The pizza would have certainly been a better investment.
And what if she decides to keep the minivan in the garage and buys her family airline tickets for a vacation? (Assuming, of course, she has enough money left after paying all those gasoline taxes.) She\’ll be forced to pay all sorts of stealthily hidden taxes, which account for forty percent of the cost of each ticket. There\’s a 7.5% domestic ticket tax; a $2.50 per person per flight segment fee; a $12.40 international arrival tax with a $12.40 international departure tax (they get you coming and going); and that pesky 4.3 cents per gallon tax also applies to domestic air fuel! As if all the aforementioned taxes weren\’t bad enough, the cost could be going skyward: Congress inexplicably wants to raise the passenger facility charge by $1.50-a wrongheaded proposal ATR wholeheartedly opposes.
The innumerable transportation taxes all combine to help push the overall tax burden to an unbearable level. We haven\’t paid out this much money in taxes as a share of our income since World War II. As a matter of fact, we\’re paying more in taxes than we pay for food, clothing, and shelter combined. This must stop, and slashing transportation taxes would be an excellent place to start.