Scrap the Federal Gas Tax In Favor Of a Voluntary One

This article was originally published on September 19, 2018, in Real Clear Markets.

Implicit in the price you pay at the pump is an opaque tax on every gallon of gas you buy – federal and state fuel taxes add to the final cost you pay to use your car for work and leisure. President Donald Trump has mentioned the possibility of an increased gas tax several times and has floated new rates ranging from 25 cents to 50 cents per gallon. He’s far from the only one to do so – calls to raise the tax have been part of the national conversation for years.

Outgoing House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) has brought up the idea as a way to generate more infrastructure revenue and the Committee’s Ranking Member, Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), introduced legislation to increase the gas tax. Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has lent its support for an increase. At the state level, California and Missouri will each have gas tax questions on the ballot in November, and New Jersey regulators are going to decide soon whether to raise the gas tax in the Garden State again. Improving the condition of our roadways will require trillions of dollars, so the question of how to fund our infrastructure priorities is a pertinent one.

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