Road Taxes Don’t Pay For Roads


I am going to throw out some numbers below and they might be a little off but they seem close enough for a general discussion. We have all heard of drivers yelling at cyclists about how the drivers pay for the roads, so cyclists should get out of the way. Well I recently came across an article by Elly Blue where she states that 40% of the federal money for transportation comes from the general revenue, thus only 60% comes from transportation specific taxes like the tax on a gallon of gas.



I looked up some numbers for NC. There is about $2B in revenue from fuel tax and highway use tax (collected when you buy a vehicle). But the state’s expenditure for transportation is $4.5B. This means only 44% of the cost is paid by taxes seemingly targeted at covering transportation cost.


I am not sure how the federal and state money mixes in NC, but let’s just call the percent paid from general revenue 50%. So when someone tells you drivers are paying for the road, you can tell them they are half right. Various driving related taxes pay about half the cost. The other half is paid by general taxes paid by everyone.


I will leave it up to you if you want to suggest they take up no more than half the road.