We Must Face the Coming Crisis of Transportation Funding

By JIM SMITH

I’ve been driving electric cars, buying little or no gasoline, since 2012, happy to be a freeloader when it comes to the cost of building and maintaining our state and federal roads and bridges.

My first Tesla in 2014

But the adoption of electric cars is accelerating, as expected, to the point where we can’t continue to depend on gas and diesel taxes to pay for our transportation infrastructure.

Yes, I have paid a $50 registration fee each year for my EVs, but that doesn’t come close to paying my fair share of the costs, and it contributes nothing to the federal highway trust fund.

In Colorado, there is a 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax, plus an 18.4-cent federal gas tax.  Rita and I drove our three EVs a total of 16,380 miles in 2020.  If they had been fueled by gas and got 25 miles per gallon, we would have purchased 655 gallons, paying $271 in state and federal gas taxes.

Rita and Jim with their 2 Teslas

Raising the gas tax makes no sense as fewer and fewer vehicles will be consuming gas in coming years.

As much as I’d like to keep being a freeloader in this regard, I am willing to pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled on my combined state and federal tax returns instead of paying $50 in annual registration fees per vehicle.  This is referred to as a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax.

Critics of a VMT tax say people will lie about miles traveled, but our tax system is based on voluntary reporting, and mileage is easily audited now that cars, like Tesla, are connected to the internet.

Author: Golden Real Estate, Inc.

Golden Real Estate is a prominent member of the Denver/Jefferson County real estate scene. Based in Golden, we service both Denver and Jeffco, representing both buyers and sellers. We're well known for Broker Jim Smith's weekly "Real Estate Today" column published in the Denver and Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section each Thursday. The column also appears in several weekly newspapers and is archived at www.JimSmithColumns.com. We have nine agents, all of whom are Realtors and EcoBrokers. Our office is Net Zero Energy since December 2017, and several of us drive electrics cars. Known for our sustainable practices, we accept polystyrene (aka "Styrofoam") for recycling, keeping 200 cubic yards per year out of area landfills.

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