Texas state officials may consider a $100 surcharge on the purchase of some new vehicles that don’t meet federal fuel efficiency standards.
State Representative Rep. Lon Burnam, Democrat from Fort Worth has compared the surcharge to the “sin taxes” placed on alcohol and tobacco. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he said, “People who buy Hummers should pay a conspicuous consumption tax… We construct many of our taxes on things that are not in the public interest — against people who smoke or drink a lot. Those who consume oil resources conspicuously when they could buy a more efficient product should [be taxed] too.”
Oh, really… a tax on conspicuous consumption? In the first place, who determines what is conspicuous consumption? Will the State of Texas appoint a special board or department to be the Luxury Purchase Police? If a contractor needs a Ford F-250 to do his work, that vehicle is utilitarian – not a luxury. Would Rolex watches and Oakley sunglasses be included in this “conspicuous consumption” tax? Considering the number of state officials who likely own these items, my guess is no. Besides, the alleged rationale for this $100 surcharge is the revenue could generate $115.3 million to pay for efforts to reduce pollution and comply with federal air quality standards.
If that is truly the objective, then the Hummer and other “gas guzzler” drivers are already doing their part. The State of Texas has a 20 cents per gallon tax on gasoline. So, the more gas one buys, the more he contributes to the state coffers. Granted, the state fuel tax is supposed to be used for state road and bridge repairs. Nevertheless, where would that money come from if every Texan was driving a car that gets 40+ miles per gallon? Hello, State of Texas, leave your consumers alone. Let the marketplace drive itself. Consider yourself fortunate that Texas still has citizens who make enough money to buy the vehicle they want and can still afford to put gas in it.
Oh, and shall we assume the State of Texas would just as soon let go of all the sales tax revenue from that “conspicuous consuming”???