The Effects of the Highway Funding Bill

July 10, 2012 by  Filed under: Taxes 

As many of us know, Congress passed the Highway Funding Bill last week that will allow highway and transit spending to remain at current levels for the upcoming two years. Many are celebrating over the fact that our bipartisan government has finally been able to pass a bill without political gridlock. Others are celebrating over the fact that our national roadways will be kept maintained and in high quality. However, there is a little issue that many have yet to realize concerning this bill. That it could be considered “deficit funding” because Congress had to tap into the US Treasury yet again as opposed to cutting spending or raising taxes.

Truckers may very well be affected by the approval of this bill because Congress is contemplating ways to clear this financial gap. It has already been proven that hiking up motor fuel tax is inefficient and incapable of financing the roadway projects administered by the Highway Trust Fund because the entity has already approached the US Treasury two times beforehand. The Highway Trust Fund was originally structured to pay for roadway projects through fees collected from users, in the form of a fuel tax.

However, construction expenses continue to become costlier while cars are becoming more fuel efficient. Americans have begun to cut back on driving as a result of rising gasoline prices and a weak economy meaning that there is a lot less money for road construction and maintenance under the current funding structure. There have been groups tasked with studying new possible forms of roadway income, such as a tax based on the miles people drive as opposed to the fuel they consume, known as the vehicle mile tax. Truckers, does this sound familiar? It is very well possible that all drivers will be joining the trucking ranks as they may be asked to pay the RVUT, the regular vehicle use tax.

Nothing is official yet, but state governments and federal agencies are both seeking out routes to boost revenue to finance projects like the Highway Funding Bill meaning that we could possibly see additional taxes related to our gas or mile consumption in the near future. As citizens, tax-paying citizens, it is our duty to be more involved in policymaking so that we are not blind-sided with additional expenses by the government. All new policies should be well thought out and planned so that we are not pushing our national deficit any further.

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