Saturday, February 25, 2017

Happy Anniversary

Today is an anniversary that we all are involved in. It is the anniversary of the Gasoline Tax   in America. So, no matter how high or low the price of gasoline becomes, there will and has been a tax put on each gallon you buy. Right now low oil prices are saving us a few bucks at the gas pumps but on this day the first gas tax was enacted in Oregon and soon spread quickly to all the other states On February 25, 1919 Oregon instituted a one cent per gallon tax to improve state roadways. At that time we had the cars but the roads were horrific still acceptable for horse travel but very bad on car tires. They had to find the money from somewhere to improve road construction.

After the tax spread to other states as a good way to get more money for the local governments it spread to the federal level. So, now for every gallon of gas you pump, Uncle Sam gets a share. The concept of taxation has been around a lot longer than automobiles. Taxes date back to more than 100 years in the Pacific Northwest. The tax also gave money to begin construction on our popular highway system that leads us effortlessly from one state to another with no traffic lights. That is a lot of pavement to maintain. The financial burden of road construction and repair could   be tied to those who travel on the roadways. That was perfectly acceptable to those who did not own cars or trucks or motorcycles. Most people who lived in large cities didn’t own or pump gas for any vehicles.

Within six weeks from this date, New Mexico followed suit with the gas tax. In 1929 New York was the last state to join in the tax. Then there was the Revenue Act of 1942 that added something new to the tax. In addition to the State Taxes there would be a Federal Tax for something they called The Reconstruction Board. Yes, by then our roadways had to need to be reconstructed and improved. However, the State Tax also increased to 1.5%. Trump wants to impose his Build a Wall Tax now. The new Federal Tax made the gasoline taxes permanent. Over the coming decades the taxes increased over the State and Federal levels. Yes, the government had just another way to squeeze more money out of the traveling population. By now support for the tax was over. People were sick of being taxed every time they gassed up.

Even the man who introduced the Tax Act Mr. Loyal M. Graham said years later after enacting the law, “When it went to .03 I got scared. When it went to .05 I went down to the state capital. It accomplished its purpose at the time, but it began to grow and grow…it’s the tendency of the Yankee to ride a free horse to death.”  Fifty years after Graham made those comments, the public feels the same way. Most Americans feel that the State Tax is the least fair of every tax we pay. Today the Federal Tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon. With State taxes and other tariffs the total comes to about 50 cents per gallon. Most gas tanks in vehicles hold at least 16 gallons so, it adds up with every fill up. So, Mr. Trump how about lowering this tax for us? Happy Anniversary Yawl!

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