Debating the Gas Tax, Part 2

Gas Tax (1).png

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this blog post belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of RSG.

Earlier this week, we presented supporting arguments in favor of raising the gas tax. Today, we’ll identify opposing points against raising the gas tax. 

Raising the gas tax in this state where people are so dependent on their cars would be a difficult decision. Senate Bill 16, which was proposed but not passed in the recently completed legislative year, would have raised the gasoline excise tax and vehicle license and registration fees in order to fund deferred maintenance of state highways and local streets and roads.

Some people believe that raising the gas tax is infeasible and would be a mistake. Taxes are politically unpopular. A gas tax is a regressive tax as it has a larger relative impact on the poor.

California residents and businesses are already heavily taxed. Raising the gas tax would deter people and businesses from staying in or moving to California. 

Some of us believe that the best alternative is to switch to a Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax, a system where we are taxed by road consumption (i.e., how many miles we drive) instead of how much gas we use. Moving to this system requires an overhaul of the current system, and increasing the gas tax would be counterproductive to this effort.

Written by Jeff Khau, an Analyst at RSG