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Road Builders Seek Federal Gas Tax and Rebate Plan

The American Road & Transportation Builders Association seeks to pair a gas tax with a repatriation tax that would rebate the revenue to tax filers. ARTBA joined other infrastructure advocates to oppose current efforts to eliminate the gas tax.
March 18, 2015, 11am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"The American Road & Transportation Builders Association is urging Congress to hike gasoline and diesel user fees by 15 cents a gallon to fund a six-year, $401 billion highway, transit and freight projects authorization bill," according to AASHTO Journal. "And it pairs that proposal with one to generate rebates to most taxpayers to cover the higher fuel cost."

ARTBA President Pete Ruane urged lawmakers to avoid replenishing the trust fund with budget "gimmicks" and "one-off" revenue measures that would only prop up transportation programs for a short time [e.g, "patch bills."]. "That won't resolve the structural damage that's been done to the Highway Trust Fund," Ruane said, "nor will it allow states to do the long-range capital planning that the nation needs."

However, the rebate part strikes this writer as being partly gimmick. You be the judge. "If it is politically necessary," as the one-pager states [PDF]:

Send annual Federal Tax Rebate covering 100% of cost of 15 cents user fee increase to all federal income tax filers with an Adjusted Gross Income of $100K or less (single) or $200K or less (double).

The rebates would be paid by "$103.3B generated by a one-time Federal Repatriation Transition Tax"

President Obama has proposed a mandatory, 14 percent tax on funds stored offshore by American companies, providing $240 billion over six years to fund his Grow America transportation plan. Clearly the ARTBA plan is more sustainable due to its 15-cents gas tax. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calf.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have proposed a more traditional repatriation tax plan to fund MAP-21.

While ARBTA's plan would get the Highway Trust Fund out of the hole created by not raising the gas tax, the devolution plan would turn the hole into a crater. The group joined 36 transportation advocacy organizations on Monday to ask Congress "to reject proposals from conservative groups to eliminate the federal gas tax, calling the plan 'dangerous,'" writes Keith Laing of The Hill.

The 2014 measure called for lowering the gas tax that currently pays for most federal transportation projects from 18.4 cents-per-gallon to 3.7 cents in five years. During the same time period, the bill would have transferred authority over federal highways and transit programs to states and replace current congressional appropriations with block grants.

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Published on Friday, March 13, 2015 in AASHTO Journal
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