The American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) on March 12 proposed that Congress increase the federal gasoline and diesel motor fuels tax by 15 cents per gallon and offset the cost with a federal tax rebate for low and middle income families as a means of funding long-term surface transportation.
ARTBA said the plan would fund a six year, $401 billion highway program.
Under the proposal, a single tax filer with an adjusted gross income of $100,000 or less would receive a $90-per-year tax rebate, which ARTBA said is the average annual cost to them of a 15 cent gas-tax increase. ARTBA said its analysis shows the rebate would completely offset the gas tax increase for 94 percent of American tax filers. The association also said a one-time federal repatriation transition tax could be used to pay for the tax rebate.
Transportation groups are urging lawmakers to pass a long-term bill before the current highway law expires May 31.
Both Chambers have held hearings on the reauthorization of the Highway Trust Fund, but lawmakers have yet to build consensus around a mechanism to pay for infrastructure spending.
Many transportation groups are urging lawmakers to raise the motor fuels tax. Other ideas being circulated include corporate tax reform and repatriation of offshore earnings. Congressional Republicans also recently proposed raising about $1.3 billion by allowing crude oil exports and increasing energy production on federal lands.
Many lawmakers, including Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, have said there is little appetite on Capitol Hill for increasing the motor fuels tax. But Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said a fuel tax increase could get a "second look" from Congress because of a lack of other options.
Although Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R.-Okla.) has said that he is committed to meeting the deadline, the Senate Finance Committee gave itself a late May deadline for identifying a mechanism to generate $100 billion for surface transportation. That deadline raises the chances of another short-term patch to existing law.
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