If that headline made you do a double-take, read on because the federal government is headed toward a momentous decision that will change the automotive world forever.
Paul Bedard of The Washington Examiner reports that a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of a proposal to replace the current federal gas tax with a tax-per-mile-driven levy concludes that:
"An on-again, off-again move by the Obama administration to scrap the federal gas tax in favor of a pay-per-mile fee would boost the tab to Americans as high as 250 percent, raising their current tax of 18.4 cents a gallon to as high as 46 cents."
The GAO study warns, however, that the federal Highway Trust Fund will be empty without some kind of major boost in the gas tax imposed on every gallon consumers buy at the service station.
The scary prospect of an empty Highway Trust Fund is a product of multiple factors, including drivers driving less due to the recessionary economy, improving fuel economy of newer cars and trucks, and the diversion of millions of dollars collected from drivers to pay for mass transit projects.
The latter factor is directly attributable to the absence of a non-political formula for establishing spending priorities.
"The average driver pays about $96 a year in federal gas taxes, GAO said. Should the administration seek to raise the highway trust fund from $34 billion to the $78 billion needed to fix and maintain roads, that could rise to $248," Bedard said.
"Translated into a pay-per-mile plan, drivers would face a tax of 2.2 cents per mile compared to the 0.9 cents they pay now. Trucks would pay far more."