TRENDS IN HIGHWAY TAXATION IN THE UNITED STATES

THE HISTORY OF TAXATION OF AND FOR HIGHWAY USE IN THE UNITED STATES IS TRACED. THE PRINCIPAL TRENDS DISCERNED IN THIS HISTORY ARE A SHIFT IN THE BURDEN OF HIGHWAY TAXATION FROM PROPERTY TAXES TO ROAD-USER TAXES AND A TENDENCY TOWARD CENTRALIZATION OF HIGHWAY FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY. THE INITIAL DEVELOPMENT OF HIGHWAYS IN THE UNITED STATES IS ATTRIBUTED IN LARGE MEASURE TO THE WILLINGNESS OF ITS CITIZENS TO SUPPORT ROADS WITH PROPERTY AND GENERAL TAXES. THE ABSENCE OF RESTRICTIVE OR BURDENSOME TAXATION ON HIGHWAY USE ENCOURAGED TRADE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT. THE ROAD NETWORK ALREADY EXISTED WHEN MOTOR VEHICLES BEGAN TO BE USED. TODAY THE NONUSER SOURCES ARE PRIMARILY PROPERTY TAXES LEVIED FOR HIGHWAY SUPPORT AND GENERAL FUNDS THAT RECEIVE REVENUE FROM A VARIETY OF LEVIES AND ARE DISBURSED FOR VARIOUS GOVERNMENTAL PURPOSES. AMONG THE USER TAXES, THE ONE ON FUEL SUPPLIES ABOUT 75% OF ALL THE REVENUES FOR HIGHWAYS. BETWEEN 1915, WHEN ALL STATES HAD ADOPTED REGISTRATION FEES, AND 1929 ALL STATES IMPOSED A TAX ON MOTOR FUELS. CHANGES IN THE MILEAGE OF LOCAL, STATE, AND INTERSTATE ROADS ARE DESCRIBED ALONG WITH PERCENTAGES OF MILEAGE VERSUS PERCENTAGES OF TRAFFIC VOLUME. A TABLE IS PROVIDED THAT CHARTS THE CHANGES IN SUPPORT OF STATE AND LOCAL ROADS BY VARIOUS REVENUE SOURCES FOR THE PERIOD 1921--1970. ATTENTION IS GIVEN TO THE ROLE OF REGISTRATION FEES, REQUIREMENTS FOR PROFITABILITY ON TOLL ROADS, AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE CONCEPTS UNDERLYING THE HIGHWAY TRUST FUND.

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Vol 49, No 4, PP 8-14, 17, 5 TAB
  • Authors:
    • Cope, E M
  • Publication Date: 1970-10

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00201021
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jan 18 1971 12:00AM