Incoming House transportation Chairman Bill Shuster last week called a U.S. tax based on miles driven “a fair way” to pay for highway improvements. With fuel economy of cars and trucks increasing and more hybrids hitting the road, officials are taking a look at the fuel tax over the long haul, in recognition that the current ways of paying for infrastructure aren't generated enough revenue.
Replacing the $54.5 billion raised for highway and transit projects from fuel taxes and other sources would require an average vehicle-miles tax rate of about 1.8 cents a mile, according to data compiled by the Federal Highway Administration. That’s based on the 2.97 trillion miles (4.77 trillion kilometers) driven in 2010. Miles driven in the U.S. peaked at 3.03 trillion in 2007 before declining during the economic downturn, according to the agency.
A motorist driving 12,000 miles a year, at that rate, would pay about $220 a year. Tax rates may be lower than 1.8 cents a mile on cars if the levy varies by vehicle size as highway tolls do. Under the current taxing system, a driver operating a vehicle getting the new-car average of 24.1 miles a gallon for the same number of miles pays about $92 a year.
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