Friday, July 20, 2007

A Lesson in Taxation


Gadabout has taken interest in the battle brewing between Virginia’s citizens and elected state politicians over recently adjusted fees for traffic violations. Virginia ratcheted up the penalties for DUI, Reckless Driving and so forth. A DUI conviction will cost you plenty in Virginia; to the tune of over $2,000 smackers. Reckless driving is over $1,000. The rub isn’t really that the costs are excessive; it is that repeat violators from other states will not be fined at the same level as Virginians. That's the general argument, and Gadabout does not have the complete “fact sheet” at hand, so let’s all just hit the “I believe button” and move on.

Okay, the Commonwealth of Virginia needed to raise revenues (no big surprise), and since it is too politically incorrect to raise “Taxes” they decided to raise “Fees” instead. Raising fees is usually a win-win for politicians on both sides of the aisle, but not this time. Nope, the proletariat is speaking up and the old codgers in Richmond are running for cover and executing damage control plans. Kind of cute, actually.

Let me give you a short lesson in collecting funds for transportation. It all comes down to the efficiency of a tax or fee, and the distribution of the effects of a tax or fee on the rich and poor. That’s why tolls usually don’t work well. They hit the poor at an equal rate as the rich, which is actually disproportionate. Tolls are also inefficient because you have to buy and maintain all the toll equipment, hire a staff, and account for the cash. In the 1990’s, most toll road systems were only 50% efficient; meaning that only 50 cents goes to the treasury for every dollar collected. Today’s automated collection methods have most likely reduced this inefficiency, but I doubt is by a large degree. I don’t have the facts, so I am only guessing here.

The most efficient way to collect revenues is to raise the GAS TAX. Raising this tax is transparent and nearly 100% efficient, but Americans just cannot tolerate any increase in a gas tax. Why? Because we are stupid and driven by emotion, that’s why! We force our elected officials into a corner on gas taxes, and we end up with toll roads and other ridicules fees. We get what we deserve. We are idiots.

Americans consume 384 million gallons of gas per day. A one cent increase in a national gas tax would generate $3.84 million per day, which equates to over $1.4 billion dollars per year. In Virginia the numbers are startling. The per capita consumption in Virginia is 464 gallons per year. With a population of nearly 8 million, Virginia could raise over $35 million per year for every penny increase in the State’s gas tax. The actual figure would most likely be less since many exceptions are in place for state vehicles and public transportation, but we are still looking at some serious cash here. I cross checked the numbers, and they correlated using multiple sources.

Do the math, Virginia. A family of four consumes, on average 1,856 gallons of gas per year. If the state raised the gas tax by just 5 cents, that family would pay an additional $92.80 per year in taxes. A single person would pay just $23.20 more. The result would be $175 million in revenues for the state.

And lastly, remember that the higher the cost of gas, the more we conserve. Americans are being stupid and emotional over taxes and fees. Virginia, you don’t need bread because Richmond will keep you happy eating cake.

6 comments:

Alusna said...

Come on Jack, you're way off base...the problem isn't the taxes, it's the idotic ways in which the elected morons continue to waste OUR money. When bozoz like Duke Cunningham can put anoynous "earmarks" is spending bills and demand bribes for it, we'll continue to see taxes go up and the payback to the taxpayers go down....

Gadabout Jack said...

Stupid Fees or nasty Taxes--your choice!

Alusna said...

My choice is to run for office...."the penalty of wise men who refuse to govern, is to live under the government of unwise men." Wake up America!

Gadabout Jack said...

Yes, the time is always ripe for change and leadership. Gadabout is ready!
GJ

Alusna said...

Gadabout is ready fo what? Are you going to help lead, or are you a follower? seems like with all your spare time now, you should be thinking of public service....

Gadabout Jack said...

Lead, of course!
GJ