Letters note: The Times will not accept or publish any additional letters on issues pertaining to the July 31 primary until the votes are cast next week.
The argument for the transportation sales tax is based upon expediting much needed projects to be funded rather than the source of the revenue. The traditional approach for funding road work has been an excise tax on fuel, which is a user tax.
However, the proposed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for transportation excludes gasoline, diesel and new car purchases after the first $5,000, all of which are directly related to road use. Rather than an increase in the fuel tax to support road construction, the case for the sales tax is twofold: fewer miles traveled and better fuel efficiency by automobiles.
Left out of this argument is inflation. Most of Georgia’s fuel tax at 7.5 cents per gallon is based upon gallons purchased rather than a percentage of the purchase price (like the sales tax) or even the 3 percent charge for credit card use, which is now more than the state excise tax.
Moreover, Georgia’s fuel tax is the second lowest in the country, behind Alaska or Florida, depending on how it is computed. As the years have passed since the tax was set more than 20 years ago, the price of fuel went up but the fuel tax remained frozen until recently.
The legislature passed a law that would automatically increase the fuel tax biannually if the fuel price increased by more than 25 percent during that period. This law would have automatically increased the gas tax by less than a penny per gallon on July 1. Gov. Deal stopped the gas tax increase by executive order, saying taxpayers in the state should not have to take on the “burden” of a gas tax right now, but nonetheless, he advocates the increase in sales tax to support transportation.
Not only does the proposed sales tax fail to tax those things most related to transportation, but by exclusion, it is a subsidy to those things: fuel and new car purchases.