Completely irrelevant gas tax awaits a better idea

The fuel tax funds highway construction and maintenance, but has lost its buying power as cars have become more fuel efficient.

By

National News

March 12, 2021 - 5:17 PM

For decades, the federal gas tax has been a key revenue stream for a portion of the nation's infrastructure. Photo by (Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel/TNS)

As lawmakers begin work on a massive infrastructure bill that they hope to pass by this summer, a key question lingers: What’s to become of the gas tax?

The federal gas tax, which through the Highway Trust Fund has paid for highways since 1956 and transit since 1982, has been a key revenue stream for a portion of the nation’s infrastructure but has lost its buying power as cars have become more fuel-efficient. It hasn’t been increased since 1993, so it has not kept up with inflation. And with automakers such as General Motors saying they’ll phase out gas-powered combustion engines altogether within the next 20 years, it faces looming irrelevance.

The problem is there’s no clear, easy replacement.

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