Why Suspending Gas Taxes Might Be Bad for the Nation’s Infrastructure

Suspending the federal gas tax could hurt the economy—and motorists—more than it helps in the long run.
Written by Andrew Kidd
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
One of the hot-button issues facing
car owners
in 2022 is high gas prices, which have pushed lawmakers in some states to propose cutting
state fuel taxes
to help constituents save a little more money.
Suspending the federal fuel tax might provide some temporary
relief at the pump
(if oil companies don’t catch wind and adjust their pricing to take advantage); however, it could be detrimental to the nation’s infrastructure rebuilding efforts.

Suspending fuel taxes is only a temporary fix to high gas prices

The Hill
’s Maya Macguineas, gas taxes are a stopgap measure that could harm more than help by increasing inflation in the long run and depriving the nation of key infrastructure funding.
As Macguineas writes, suspending federal gas taxes do next to nothing in addressing the ever-increasing cost of living that’s putting the hurt on many Americans’ bank accounts. She notes that while inflation grew 6.7% in 2021, it would’ve grown 6.5% if the 18-cent-per-gallon federal gas tax was suspended.
That number also assumes that oil producers and gas stations wouldn’t absorb the savings intended for consumers at the pump. If price-gouging habits throughout the past few decades are any indicator, consumers would likely not see any significant savings before suppliers jacked up the pre-tax cost of their fuel.
Without anything to replace the revenue from those taxes (nearly $20 billion through the end of the year), infrastructure construction and maintenance would be the real losers here.
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Is U.S. infrastrucure in bad shape?

“Infrastructure” includes roads, highways,
, railways, water supplies, dams, drinking water, wastewater treatment and much more.
And America’s infrastructure is in shambles according to many experts. The
American Society of Civil Engineers
gave it a C- on its
American Infrastructure Report Card
, noting that wear and tear have left 43% of American roadways in poor or mediocre condition. 
Of the country’s 617,000 bridges, 42% are 50 years old or older and 46,154 (or 7.5%) are considered “structurally deficient, meaning they’re in dire need of repair or rebuilding.
What does this mean for the average motorist? According to the
Council on Foreign Relations
, infrastructure failures like bridge collapses, poorly maintained roads and waterways can cost the U.S. economy billions in lost productivity. 
Traffic congestion alone can cost the economy $120 billion per year. While the U.S. population has doubled since the ‘60s, the
country’s major infrastructure systems
were not designed to handle the current overwhelming capacity and are at the end of their lifespan.
Per the
, failing to invest in infrastructure—the biggest problem being surface transportation like roads and rails—could cost the nation $10 trillion in lost gross domestic product by 2039 if the government doesn’t address it.
The U.S. is behind other developed nations in infrastructure quality, ranking 13th in the world in 2019 per the
World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report
. Compared to other G20 nations, the U.S. ranks 18th in terms of planned infrastructure spending by 2040.

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