The Decline of the Gas Tax


Interesting observations from USA Today on the declining real value of the gasoline tax:

Holiday drivers will pay less than ever at the pump for upkeep of the nation’s roads — just $19 in gas taxes for every 1,000 miles driven, a USA TODAY analysis finds. That’s a new low in inflation-adjusted dollars, half what drivers paid in 1975.

Another measure of the trend: Americans spent just 46 cents on gas taxes for every $100 of income in the first quarter of 2010. That’s the lowest rate since the government began keeping track in 1929. By comparison, Americans spent $1.18 in 1970 on gas taxes out of every $100 earned.

This largely reflects growing fuel efficiency, which is a good thing, but also indicates that we ought to raise gasoline taxes. Pollution and traffic congestion are still bad things, and the country still needs revenue to make our infrastructure work.