Letters to the Editor

Gas-guzzler tax

July 27, 2010


To the editor:

When the county sales tax went up to 8.85 percent, I thought about how much more it hurts when purchasing a new car. And with some new cars that get very low gas mileage, there is an additional gas-guzzler tax. For a new Ferrari 430 Scuderia, this extra tax is $6,400. Ouch!

I have a Smart car Fortwo that gets 40 mpg in the city and even more on the highway. Why not lower the sales tax to 7 percent or 7.5 percent when someone purchases a new car that gets over 35 or 38 mpg? The same would apply when electric cars, which use no gas, become available. After all, less gas used by these cars does not harm the environment nearly as much as by Hummers or big SUVs with the big block V-8 engines.

Anyone wanna buy a Ferrari?


Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 7 months ago

"This extra tax is $6,400. Ouch!"

I looked up the price for LAST YEAR'S new 2009 Ferrari F430: Price Range: $187,925 - $282,618

I think if you are spending $282,816 for your new Ferrari, that extra $6,400 won't hurt your pocketbook very much.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps, but he could have also spent that $6,400 on purchases in the market which - most likely - would have generated more revenue than the tax did.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 7 months ago

It certainly is speculative, but I'd be willing to bet the $6400 in the private economy would do better than $6400 handed over to the government as punishment.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 7 months ago

I did a bit more research: Best Gas Mileage Cars:

  1. Toyota Prius: 48 City/45 Hwy

  2. Honda Civic Hybrid: 40 City/45 Hwy

  3. Smart for Two: 33 City/41 Hwy (runs on high-priced premium fuel)

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 7 months ago

And what do I drive?

A piece of junk that gets 13 mpg in town, and 22 on the highway. But that's OK, because I spend more on repairs than gasoline anyway!

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 7 months ago

Tax policy should not be used as a tool to either reward or punish behavior.

BlackVelvet 7 years, 7 months ago

agree 100% My jeep gets lousy gas mileage but makes me very happy.

Joe Hyde 7 years, 7 months ago

Good letter. I've never given thought to this idea of collecting a lower-rated sales tax on fuel-efficient vehicles. It's a good idea for many reasons, not the least of which being that fuel-efficient vehicles tend to weigh much less than "guzzlers", resulting in the lighter weight vehicle causing much less damage to expensive transportation infrastructure.

And since Chris' letter is offered in the spirit of Constructive Suggestion, I'd like to add a related one: Why not institute a sliding sales tax on personal transportation devices? Start with the 8.85% (applied only to sales of new or used vehicles that average less than 20mph highway) then progressively lower the sales tax for vehicles that get higher mileage.

I'm not sure how the fuel economy/tax rate ratio would be fairly formulated, but it certainly could be done. By applying the sliding scale someone who, for example, purchases a new bicycle (self-propelled transportation) would pay a sales tax of only 1/2% -- a rate reflective of its virtually zero-impact wear on the existing transportation infrastructure.

Not that I own a bicycle; I don't. But I do own a lightweight Tacoma pickup whose nitrogen-filled tires were recently inflated to 38psi front, 36psi rear. Burdened with a load of camping gear on a 1,500 trip through the Rocky Mountains this truck averaged -- repeat, averaged -- 30 miles per gallon. Those few extra psi of tire pressure reduced my truck's rolling resistance so much that I probably saved $80 in "fuel stop not needed".

Maddy Griffin 7 years, 7 months ago

I would love to see an added tax for the big gas guzzlers. Why do you need an SUV for 1 person to get back and forth. Next time you're out and about, watch out for the SUV's and see how many times they only have one person in them. Such a waste of space and energy.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, ok, if your choices don't affect the rest of us negatively.

whats_going_on 7 years, 7 months ago

the only thing I can envision being negative about this is it'll effect those people who already had a gas guzzler and might not be able to afford a more efficient car. Now, it'll be even longer until they can save up for a new one

BlackVelvet 7 years, 7 months ago

Perhaps you think we should adopt Henry Ford's philosophy (regarding his model T). "You can have it in any color you want, as long as it's black." ??

Cassie Powell 7 years, 7 months ago

as long as buses are running around with 1-2 people, I see no reason a person can't drive what ever they please!

somedude20 7 years, 7 months ago

tax tax tax tax tax tax tax tax tax tax tax....good god. everything is now being taxed. In fact, I heard that there was going to be a masturbation tax because not creating a child means not creating another tax payer and that is just criminal

Flap Doodle 7 years, 7 months ago

Don't forget that the raw form of electricity is often coal!

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

One of the problems with using miles per gallon (mpg) for evaluating fuel usage for cars is that the fuel amounts (gallons) are in the denominator, which makes it non-linear and hard for our linear brains to process.

As an example, consider going from a 20 mpg car to a 40 mpg car. The 20 mpg car will use 5 gallons for 100 miles and the 40 mpg car will use 2.5 gal, a savings of 2.5 gallons/100 miles for this change.

Now consider going from a 10 mpg car to a 14 mpg car. The 10 mpg car needs 10 gallons for a 10 mile trip whereas the 14 mpg car needs 7.14 gal - a savings of 2.86 gallons for the switch.

So, trading in a 10 mpg car for a 14 mpg car would save more gas than going from 20 mpg to 40 mpg.

From this, it is better to focus on the lower end of the mileage spectrum than trying to push cars to 50+ mpg. So instead of giving a $2000 tax credit for buying a Prius, it would be better just to offer people $2000 to junk their 1979 cutlass beater to encourage them to buy a new(er) car.

A better unit would be to measure fuel usage in gallons/100 miles as an example, this would be linear in fuel usage. Even better would be liters/100 km, which is the unit they use in Europe for fuel efficiency - using sensible metric units, not silly English ones.

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

Yes you are correct. It is a typo. Thanks and sorry!

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 7 months ago

But the government is dependent upon an 8.85% sales tax rate on all cars sold, not just gas guzzlers. The lost government revenue would have to come from somewhere - either through less government spending (not a chance) or higher taxes elsewhere.

love2fish_ks 7 years, 7 months ago

Honest discussion about the environment is needed. For example, the battery operated Nissa Leaf (TOTAL Electric Car) harms the environment more due to the pollution in creating the batteries than a Ford diesel truck in 200K mi. Not to mention that the electricity comes from coal.

Alexander Neighbors 7 years, 7 months ago

How about NO TAX.......Other states do it Like Oregon it has no Sales tax on everything "Oregon has no statewide sales tax"

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

But Oregon compensates by having a 9% income tax above about $8K of taxable income, going up to 11% above 250K. Generally states that don't have some particular type of tax (income, sales, etc) make it up in other ways.

puddleglum 7 years, 7 months ago

gas is still cheaper per gallon than bottled water....think about it.

Stuart Evans 7 years, 7 months ago

I've been paying $0.88 a gallon for distilled water... I remember when gas was about that much...

of course, if you buy it one pint or liter at a time, I suppose that can add up quickly.

whats_going_on 7 years, 7 months ago

jeezus what bottled water do you drink? I get a huge thing of Smart water for a little over a dollar :\

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

The average price for a 20 oz. bottle of Smartwater is about $1.29 - at least according to a google search. There are 128 oz. in a US gallon. Therefore 1 gallon of Smartwater would be about $7.80, which is more expensive than a gallon of gas - even if you could get a volume discount on the Smartwater.

he_who_knows_all 7 years, 7 months ago

Sell the Ferrari now!

Chris Barteldes, right, gives 7-foot-tall Alyn Thomsen a ride in his Ferrari after a Jayhawk Breakfast Rotary Club meeting. Some of the Rotary Club members were concerned that some bugs may have hit Thomsen's forehead during the drive. Submitted by David Bunker.

Chris Barteldes, right, gives 7-foot-tall Alyn Thomsen a ride in his Ferrari after a Jayhawk Breakfast Rotary Club meeting. Some of the Rotary Club members were concerned that some bugs may have hit Thomsen's forehead during the drive. Submitted by David Bunker.

Liberty275 7 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, lets let people pay less tax because they already pay less.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 7 months ago

Ron: A piece of junk that gets 13 mpg in town, and 22 on the highway. But that's OK, because I spend more on repairs than gasoline anyway!

---and when you're in that accident, you're far more likely to survive! the greenie wheenies always like to ignore that the savings in gas mileage are paid for with human lives and human tragedy.

american ethanol for the fake carbon guilt contributes vastly to famine in the developing world.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

That's not necessarily true that cars getting better gas mileage are less safe.

And, the ethanol mess was created largely by lobbyists, not real environmentalists, who are largely discouraged by it.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 7 months ago

bearded_gnome - I requested a rate quote on insurance for my Ford Windstar. It rated a massive discount, because of its incredible safety record. It rates 5 stars in every category, for every occupant. I'm still a white knuckle driver though, and keep my eyes open every second!

Liberty275 7 years, 7 months ago

I was watching the science channel last night and they used a car crash test to illustrate the effect of smashing protons in a collider and one of the cars was a civic while the other was a "smart" car. Against a civic, the "smart" car performed so badly in the impact that the driver would have likely lost his legs while the civic driver would have been uninjured.

LOL, real smart. Nevermind running one under an F350.

irvan moore 7 years, 7 months ago

due to the personal property tax laws the same vehicle keeps racking up tax dollars every time it is sold, i don't think it's how much the tax is that's so bad but how many times it is collected.

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years, 7 months ago

Great point. Do we really own our property if the government can take it for failure to pay an arbitrary tax on it?

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, there you go again.

When your choice of automobile affects the environment, hence other people, negatively, it becomes more than just a personal choice.

whats_going_on 7 years, 7 months ago

bring smart cars here was perhaps the worst idea ever. I remember seeing them all over in Europe, but their biggest VANS in Europe are also the size of our smallest SUV-types. Stupid. Unsafe, and stupid. My corolla gets excellent gas mileage, and I feel safe (and sexy!) in it. Thats all I ask.

gphawk89 7 years, 7 months ago

Slightly off-topic, but I never have quite understood the mentality of the anti-SUV crowd. You slash the tires of a big SUV in a parking lot because you think it uses too much fossil fuel or emits too much pollution. But now you've just increased both fossil fuel demand and pollution (required to produce a new set of tires). You torch a Hummer dealership for the same reason. But doesn't that fire cause quite a bit of pollution itself? And what about all of the energy required to dispose of the charred Hummers and building, erect a new building, and manufacture replacement Hummers? I don't get it.

hail2oldku 7 years, 7 months ago

Here's one for you - http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,343768,00.html - google eco-terrorism and you'll find plenty more examples.

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

How does buying a casket help the dead man?

whats_going_on 7 years, 7 months ago

we personally don't use the services a lot of taxes pay for. If you're not in grade school anymore, you're paying for something you're not using.


feeble 7 years, 7 months ago

You could achieve much the same ends by reducing or eliminating US subsidies for Big Oil. The resulting increase in cost per gallon would be passed to the consumer, with owners of inefficient vehicles paying proportionally more due to their increased consumption.

This is a clear instance where reducing spending trumps increasing taxes.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

That's a very interesting idea.

I wonder if any politicians have the nerve to propose or support it.

dennis 7 years, 7 months ago

to all you tax happy people out there can you spell --totalitarian enactments. there is no more free country.

citizen4honor 7 years, 7 months ago

Oh how little people know. Electric cars DO USE GAS. The charge lasts anywhere from 40 to 300 miles before needing a charge so the vehicles switch to gasoline. The cars use electricity which uses coal and contributes to Green house gas. Also our grid system is in terrible shape so Electric cars are really not a good plan forward. Electricity also interferes with many people causing health issues. The lithium battery in the cars are full of cancer causing ingredients and will heavily pollute landfills. The manufactuer of these batteries fills our air with toxic gases. If you are traveling across country - where do you plug your car in to charge? I haven't seen very many charge stations - and who pays for the charge station? I dont' envision them popping up at malls plus you need about 10 hours to fully charge a battery. Not a good choice for a cab driver I say.

cummingshawk 7 years, 7 months ago

A gas guzzler tax is an additional levy on vehicles that have poor mpg. The higher tax collected on a Ferrari is due to its higher price, not attributable to its mpg, resulting in a higher sales tax collected by the state/county and whoever else has their hand out this week.

Kontum1972 7 years, 7 months ago

i was hung over for 3 days after my last guzzle...that taxed my liver to the MAX!

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 7 months ago

Ironically, many American cars are punished by this tax. For example, if one was thinking of a new Ford Mustang Cobra, one would be penalized. If one bought a Porsche 911 - made entirely in Germany - one is not penalized. Hurrah for taxes!

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

I'll call BS on this statement. If you actually look at the most recent list (2009), you will see that the vast majority of the cars on the list are foreign.


gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 7 months ago

You miss the point. Look at the "reasonably priced" sports cars on that list and look at the ones that aren't on that list. The Mustang, Corvette and Charger are all on that list. There isn't a single Porsche on that list. The BMWs listed are all $50k and up. Either way, It doesn't particularly matter because once I drove the Porsche I was much less interested in the Mustang - but whatever.

Brian Laird 7 years, 7 months ago

Don't think I missed the point. (I may have missed your point - whatever that may be - but that is not relevant.) The tax is based on combined mpg (as defined by the EPA). Cars above 22 mpg (combined) are not taxed, but cars below that are. This is pretty simple. The 911 is not on the list because it gets a combined mpg over 22. The Cobra, Corvette and Charger have combined mpg below 22. The list is not biased towards national origin or cost.

This is not hard to understand.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 7 months ago

Sweet jesus. My point is that the real-life unintended consequence of this tax is to punish someone for purchasing an American made entry-level sports vehicle because, in comparison, these cars are less fuel efficient than European rivals. Taxes have unintended consequences and this one - as a byproduct - punishes those who buy an American car at the same time the government (unfortunately) owns a large chunk of at least one car manufacturer. If this still isn't clear, I'll get the phonics monkey to spell it out for you.

jafs 7 years, 7 months ago

Well, perhaps American manufacturers should make more fuel-efficient cars if they want to compete?

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years, 7 months ago

In general, I'd agree. However, I'd also like to see the tax done away with for all vehicles.

Ron Holzwarth 7 years, 7 months ago

RATM, if you're like me and have trouble parking, I'm sure they're wonderful!

slang4d 7 years, 7 months ago

I now own two cars (04 Civic, 00 Century) and they were both from relatives, one purchased, one as was a gift. Guess what? No tax! Just buy cars from relatives. No reason to buy a brand new car anyway, it loses a huge percentage of its value as soon as you drive off the lot. :)

I would rather see a disincentive for people who choose to buy vanity gas-guzzlers like Escalades.

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