Nontraditional taxes dedicated for highways have become sufficiently widespread to raise questions of public policy. Are state user tax schedules realistics? Clearly, states have adjusted road-user taxes and fees in recent years (some have done so repeatedly). Still, state road-user taxes are warranted. Specifically, average motor vehicle registration fees, expressed in real dollars, are roughly one-half of their earlier levels, and the combined federal and stae motor fuel tax is below the 1965 counterpart in purchasing power. Further, the highway tax share of the overall cost of owning and operating an automobile has steadily declined to about one-half of the 1970 ratio (Cost of Owning and Operating Automobiles and Vans--1984, FHWA). Clearly, road-users taxes could be increased, even doubled, and not be inconsistent with what users paid more than a decade ago, which responds to another public-policy question: How can shifting general funds for highways be justified? On the basis of this analysis and the percept of a user-financed program, the use of general revenues for state highways does not appear to be warranted. (Author)

Media Info

  • Features: Tables;
  • Pagination: p. 24-27
  • Serial:
    • TR News
    • Issue Number: 123
    • Publisher: Transportation Research Board
    • ISSN: 0738-6826

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00456174
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Jul 31 1986 12:00AM