What Do Americans Think About Federal Tax Options To Support Transportation? Results From Year Nine of a National Survey

What Do Americans Think About Federal Tax Options To Support Transportation? Results From Year Nine of a National Survey

Abstract: 

This report summarizes the results of the ninth year of a national random-digit-dial public opinion survey asking 1,201 respondents if they would support various tax options for raising federal transportation revenues. The ten specific tax options tested were seven variations on raising the federal gas tax rate, two variations on a new mileage tax, and creating a new federal sales tax. In addition, the survey collected data on standard sociodemographic factors, travel behavior (annual miles driven and vehicle fuel efficiency), respondents’ views on the quality of their local transportation system, and their priorities for government spending on transportation in their state. All of this information is used to assess support levels for the tax options among different population subgroups.

The survey results show that a majority of Americans would support higher taxes for transportation – under certain conditions. For example, 72% of respondents supported a gas tax increase of 10¢ per gallon to improve road maintenance, whereas support dropped to just 34% if the revenues were to be used more generally to maintain and improve the transportation system. For tax options where the revenues were to be spent for undefined transportation purposes, support levels varied considerably by what kind of tax would be imposed, with a sales tax much more popular than either a gas tax increase or a new mileage tax.

Authors: 

ASHA WEINSTEIN AGRAWAL, Ph.D.

Dr. Agrawal is the Director of the MTI National Transportation Finance Center and also professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests in transportation policy and planning include transportation finance, bicycle and pedestrian planning, and travel survey methods. She also works in the area of transportation history. She has a B.A. from Harvard University in Folklore and Mythology, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in Urban and Regional Planning, and a Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, in City and Regional Planning.

HILARY NIXON, Ph.D.

Dr. Nixon is professor of Urban and Regional Planning at San José State University. Her research and teaching interests in environmental planning and policy focus on the relationship between environmental attitudes and behavior, particularly with respect to waste management and linkages between transportation and the environment. She holds a B.A. from the University of Rochester in Environmental Management and a Ph.D. in Planning, Policy, and Design from the University of California, Irvine.

Published: 

June 2018

Keywords: 

Transportation taxes
Transportation fees
Public opinion
Gasoline tax
Mileage fee
Highway user taxation
User charges