September, 2015. Paper abstract bibtex
This research compares the actual magnitude of fuel taxes to the perceptions of these amounts. The issue is whether misperceptions about fuel taxes are contributing to voter perspectives about transportation finance and investment issues. A survey of likely California and Michigan voters shows that taxpayers often overestimate the amount they pay in fuel taxes. Considering a worst-case scenario of miles traveled in a year by a typical driver, about half of the California poll respondents overestimate the magnitude of monthly state gas taxes paid by a typical driver in the state; while about three-quarters of Michigan poll respondents overestimate the same magnitude for their state. Logistic regression analysis shows that voter (mis)perceptions regarding the magnitude of state fuel taxes do affect their views regarding highway revenue and investment proposals. Therefore, a reasonable policy implication from this research it that proposals to generate additional revenue for highway investment are likely to have more success if accompanied by a public education campaign concerning the gasoline taxes actually paid in a state and the reality of the magnitude paid by the state’s typical driver.