back to article Fuel taxes don't hurt the world's poor - they don't have cars

People with lots of cash in their pockets are much harder hit by a hike in petrol taxes then those living in poorer countries, a professor of environmental economics and his team of international researchers have argued. Prof Thomas Sterner at the University of Gothenburg said the reason for his claim is simple: people living …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    these taxes are then regressive if the proceeds are not spent on public transport to mitigate the effects on poor people in developed countries?

    where's Tim Worstall when you need him?

    1. Tim Worstal


      I think the professor wqould agree that fuel taxes are regressive in rich countries. AS spending upon fuel is a higher proportion of poor incomes than of rich incomes in rich countries.

      What the report really means is that as, in poor countries, fuel taxes are progressive (ie, only the rich have cars so only the rich pay them) then we should be arguing for lots of fuel taxes in poor countries.

      Just fine by me.

      1. perlcat

        Any time I hear scientists say 'economic justice'

        I think that they've ventured out of science and into 'social engineering'.

  2. Optymystic

    A team of International Experts

    It must have been a mighty high-powered team to come up with this. Would they like to test the hypothesis that bears shit in ......?

    1. Ian Stephenson

      Don't forget the conference in Dubai!

      Because the tax on jet fuel used wont impact the poor, or the conference guests for that matter, since they wont be paying their own fares anyway.

      1. Britt Johnston

        tax on jet fuel ?

        As far as I and Wikipedia know, jet fuel is not taxed, not even VAT in the UK. This helps to reduce the airline bancrupcies. This is also handy for people with their own jets, but that probably wasn't considered in the good boffin's rich vs poor calculations.

        1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

          Correct, aviation fuel is not taxed

          >> As far as I and Wikipedia know, jet fuel is not taxed, not even VAT in the UK. This helps to reduce the airline bancrupcies. This is also handy for people with their own jets ...

          The reason aviation fuel isn't taxed is because of international treaties - it's nothing to do qith reducing airline failures which has never been a consideration for the tax man. If (say) the UK imposed heavy tax on aviation fuel, there would be a big economic incentive for aircraft to arrive in the UK and only take on enough fuel to reach their next stop outside the UK - in principal they'd like to have just enough to land and taxi to the stand but no-one would push it *that* far*. They'd then fuel up outside the UK, cramming as much in as possible and minimise the amount they need to buy on the next stop in the UK.

          * There are in fact rules on minimum reserves to be carries, but even with these, there have been incidents where aircraft have run out of fuel. Some of these have been due to errors (lookup Gimli glider), some just down to using more fuel than they expected. Running out of fuel during a flight is not generally considered a good thing !

          Such is the cost of fuel to feed a large aircraft, if there is enough differential, airlines will re-route and/or add addition stops if that will reduce their costs.

          Clearly there are significant safety issues if airlines are pushing things to the limits, and so there are international treaties that aviation fuel isn't taxed by any country so as to minimise such incentives.

          Not only is this a source of envy to non-flyers, it's also a source of envy for those flying at the lower end of the scale where fuels (AvTur (for turbines) for non-commercial use, and AvGas (petrol) for all uses including commercial) is heavily taxed with fuel tax and VAT on top of that.

          1. perlcat

            Reminds me of diesel taxes

            One US state that shall remain nameless thought that they would raise the taxes on diesel for railroads, make a lot of money from a captive market. A Class 1 freight railroad that also is nameless just hooked up a couple 90,000 gallon tank cars full of diesel behind each engine before they entered the state, and completely stopped buying diesel there.

            The tax only lasted a few months.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go figure! Doesn't take a professor to work this out!

  4. jm83


    This man is a Professor and thinks cars are the only things that use petrol.

    Of course goods magically fly onto shelves.

    1. tmTM


      How this hack has received any attention is beyond me, Fuel price effects everyone and everything.

    2. Mike VandeVelde

      magically flying goods

      if you take the $0.007 (or whatever) of fuel used to get my can of peas onto the store shelf, and increase that to $0.0071 (or whatever) with harsh regressive carbon taxes, I'm not going to starve. But thanks for thinking about me.

      Then let's go to darkest Africa and you show me the store with the shelves with the truck pulling up to the back to unload. I assume you picture the rest of the planet to be like your neighbourhood, but so much poorer. For the average earthling (<$2/day), the lucky ones (ie not among the tens of thousands who starved to death today) get their groceries by walking down to the village market to see what the local beasts of burden have dragged in from the fields today. Put a 10,000% carbon tax on and the millenia will continue to pass by as normal.

      1. jm83

        Theres a whole world of different scenarios between people living in mud huts farming the immediate area and huge western cities importing goods from the other side of the planet.

        Fuel taxes will keep more people in the former category than moving them to the latter.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Fuel taxes don't hit people living on benefits: they don't have to drive to work.

    And I suppose his theory also implies that petrol consumption is proportional to wages, hence making fuel tax hikes fair?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But they have to drive to sign on and dole offices are seldom located in convenient places.

      1. Curly4

        away around that

        That problem can be addressed. Just make the signup online and then neither the claimant nor the bureaucratic would have to drive.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I guess you've never been in a dole office then?

        Hint: There aren't queues of cars pulling up outside dropping people off and picking them up. In practice, almost everyone arrives on foot.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        not anymore

        offices are located based on census geolocation data so the offices are convenient. And we've already started the ability to apply via the Internet two years ago.

        We're setting up the ability to take all documents via email and fax and automatically set them to caseworkers properly classified.

        Which means no ever going to the office. No ever having to make a physical presence as proof to who you are. Nor does the system care about (and is not allowed by policy to care about) where in the world applications are sent from.

        So like spam, send out a few thousand applications cheap-if one sticks, you've profitted.

        Meanwhile I have to go to work to implement this system and get pay cuts whilst benefits folks always see maximum cost of living/rent increase/food subsidy increases every single year.

  6. Filippo

    1) It is true that petrol taxes don't directly hit much a person who doesn't own a car, which includes most people in developing countries. However, if you only look at people who do own a car, which means most people in developed countries, petrol taxes do indeed hit the relatively poor disproportionately in that they consume a far larger percentage of their income compared to the rich. Yeah, the rich probably tend to have bigger cars that use more gas, but this isn't sufficient to make the tax fair. It's an essentially regressive taxation on everyone who owns a car. The fact that it doesn't apply to people who don't own a car doesn't change that.

    2) The cost of fuel isn't only paid by those who drive. Higher fuel costs mean higher transportation costs, and higher transportation costs are reflected on pretty much everything. Granted, this hidden cost is probably smaller than directly paying petrol taxes, but still, it isn't true that if you don't own a car, then petrol taxes don't impact you.

    1. Nick Kew Bronze badge
      IT Angle

      Classic propagandist fallacy

      Yours is the classic antisocialiast[*] argument.

      1. What hurts the relatively poor (among others) is living in a society that expects you to have a car and marginalises/socially excludes you if you don't. Fix that and we're all better off. The best thing for poorer folks in rich countries is to align their interests with richer folks, which happens in spades if the latter move away from car-dependence.

      2. Yes, some things would cost more (but set against that the tens of billions per year the freight transport folks tell us is lost to congestion). But I'd rather pay more tax on destructive activity instead of having to pay quite so much of my hard-earned for the privilege of working.

      [*] If socialism is things done to improve the lot of the poor, then what should we call things done for the rich but in the name of the poor? I say antisocialism.

      1. Ben Liddicott
        Big Brother

        The best thing for the poor

        Is to make sure they can afford to buy and run cars if they want to. That's not a policy "for the rich".

        Secondly, socialism isn't "doing things to improve the lot of the poor". Socialism is doing things "as a society", i.e. collectively, as opposed to allowing us all to get on with doing our own things.

        It's great if you can get yourself appointed to be the person controlling what is done - you can live like a monarch, get everything you want and as much shagging impoverished factory workers as you can fit into your busy schedule of ordering people around.

        But as for "doing things to improve the lot of the poor"....... well, socialism doesn't achieve that, does it?

        If you are only going to learn only one thing from the history of the 20th century, that should be it. If you have time to learn two, it should be that adding nationalism into the mix, to make fascism/national socialism doesn't help.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Political bullshit alert.

          >Socialism is doing things "as a society"

          > It's great if you can get yourself appointed to be the person controlling what is done

          I see what you did there. You pretended you were going to describe socialism, but did a bait-and-switch and started describing tyranny instead. The jarring non-sequitur gives you away, of course; there's nothing about "doing things collectively" that necessarily implies it has to all be controlled by a single dictator, in fact "doing things collectively" implies not having a privileged elite, because that's not what "collectively" means. The intellectual dishonesty of your rhetorical trick implies that you don't actually have any strong arguments against socialism itself.

          >"But as for "doing things to improve the lot of the poor"....... well, socialism doesn't achieve that, does it?"

          Well, yes it does actually; places like Cuba and various South American countries have all seen vast improvements in literacy and healthcare for the poor under socialist regimes. You can argue all you like about the relative pros and cons of the various trade-offs, but pretending that it does nothing at all for the poor is just blatantly false.

          I'm going to treat the remaining part of your comment, the reductio ad hitler argument, with the contempt it deserves. The German fascist regime of the '30s-'40s was an absolute corporatist-statist dictatorship, using nationalism as a populist force to bind the population; calling itself "socialist" was just marketing. Just calling yourself "socialists" doesn't make you socialists - surprising that you should so trustingly accept the word of a bunch of psychopathic mass-murderers about their own self-description.

          1. Libertarian


            Clearly your concept of socialism does not recognize the inevitably privileged "more equal than others" apparatchik bureaucracy inherent in all socialist states, as in non-socialist models.

            Speaking of intellectual dishonesty, dictatorship is not inherently monarchical in character, it can be, and frequently is, collegiate in structure.

          2. some vaguely opinionated bloke

            Up the socialists!

            "places like Cuba and various South American countries have all seen vast improvements in literacy and healthcare for the poor under socialist regimes... pretending that it does nothing at all for the poor is just blatantly false."

            So now that literacy and healthcare are vastly improved, the poor can be poor for longer, and be able to write about being poor.


        2. Libertarian


          How refreshing to see clarity of thought expressed in a sea of ignorance and gross political misrepresentation.

          Socialism = the ants' nest or the bee hive. If you are obliged to live with socialism the obvious survival mechanism is, as you observe, to try to be one of the more equal animals.

      2. defiler

        Poor people to align their interests with rich people?

        You've never had to deal with rich people, have you? Their interest tends to be themselves - that's why they're rich. For poor people to align their interests with the rich people means serfdom. Or Cristal and foie gras.

        Not really the champion of the working man there...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          self interest

          poor people are just like rich people. Especially when it comes to voting for more benefits for themselves, not caring what it does to the system or who pays for it.

    2. Gerhard Mack

      mostly true on point 1

      At least in Canada the rich are more likely to be driving a new car while the poorer you are the older your car will be. Older cars will have less efficient engines to begin with along with the normal losses of efficiency from a worn engine.

  7. The Vociferous Time Waster

    Food prices?

    Food price hikes have recently been attributed in part to greater fuel costs, a fuel tax such as this will only be effective if there is alternative and reasonably priced mass transit infrastructure in place or if the duty is tiered so that fuel for domestic use is higher than fuel for commercial use (although that's political suicide).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not to mention food production

      An awful lot of the production cost of food takes the form of driving various sprayers, harvesters, ploughs etc back and forth over fields on a regular basis, clocking up a lot of mileage.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: food production

        I thought all that was done with pink diesel.

        1. Stratman

          No, it just tastes like it.

        2. Ben Liddicott

          Not after it leaves the farm

          For example, from farm to mill, from mill to bakery, from bakery to shop, is all fuel-duty paid.

          1. Nuke

            @ Ben Liddicott - "Not after it leaves the farm"

            Not if it is sent by rail.

  8. A.A.Hamilton

    Prof. Sterner: a new tax opportunity

    I assume that rural Sweden (Denmark) has a highly developed, regular, frequent, reliable, reasonably priced public transport system, running 24/7/365 for use by the rural poor?

    This story suggests a new tax opportunity: we could designate our (unusually high) share of unemployable FuckWits in this country as Professors and tax them accordingly.

    1. Figgus

      Too late, they have already been designated as "Politicians".

  9. Anonymous Coward

    May be true for first world city dwellers

    But for people who need transport away from well developed public transport it's a very penalising regime, and that's true for all parts of the world. Presumably the illustrious prof requires everyone to stream to the cities where managing people is so much easier.

    What's more, the rich can afford alternatives such as electric cars, also only designed for city use. I suppose the prof's thinking is fine providing he stays behind his desk, but if he got out into the world a little he may change his mind.

    1. Tim of the Win

      Indeed. I know some very low wage people stuck in circumstances where they are spending £50 on petrol per week just to go to work. If you're in a city it's fine, there are other options. But many work places are simply not near public transport.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Take a hike, ride a bike

      Your logic could stand a bit improvement. In *cough* certain places lots of infrastructure is built on the premise that "everyone has a car", thus shifting overall costs around a bit (cheaper out-of-the-city locations vs. having your customers pay for the difference in increased gas costs and oh the cost of owning a car) and causing a lock-in that really isn't strictly necessary.

      Besides, if fuel taxes rise, there will be demand and thus pressure to provide more and better public transport, and/or other alternatives. It's not static; things change. New market opportunities galore. On top of that, much of that "need" isn't, but is frivolous and could be done a different way to boot. In fact, maybe we'll see a rise of car rentals or car sharing schemes, or more light motorcycles, who knows? In, say, Germany it's already quite common to announce you're making a long trip and invite people to ride with you for a bit of fuel money, something only made easier by things like "the internet".

      Cars win because they're comparatively cheap and easy, perhaps too much so in certain places. Fuel prices increases, so cars are no longer that cheap. Well, that just changes the equation. People'll find a way.

    3. Nick Kew Bronze badge
      IT Angle

      Why not talk about what you know?

      Speaking from the wilds of west Devon, I cross a stretch of Dartmoor just to get to the local supermarket. Cars are a major blight here too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        You've got no business living in the country unless you are rich or the gardener or cleaner for someone who is rich. Get back into the urban tower blocks where you belong.

      2. Tom 38 Silver badge

        But Nick, that's your choice isn't it? You could quite easily live elsewhere in Devon, and live within walking distance of amenities. For you, the negatives of living in an isolated area are outweighed by the positives.

        I also smirked at some comments about people moaning about paying £100/month in fuel to get to work. I pay £128/month to get jammed into a sweaty metal box with a hundred other people in order to get to work, you lucky bastards :)

        1. Citizen Kaned

          circular argument...

          you could work somewhere where you didnt need a train to get to work. or you could buy a car?

          i was talking about the gov taxing me £100+ to get to work. i spend more than you do getting to work and i probably live nearer. where i live, due to all our tax going south, we are stuck with single carriage ringroads averaging 20mph.

          i dont get paid london wages. you know, there is part of england above watford. in fact the majority of the country lives above it, we pay tax too and rarely see any of it spent locally.

          we pay plenty of tax to see it all spent 'darn sarf'. we have shitty public transport here. at least you get subsidised travel (presumably train) where as the gov actively increase my travel expenses exponentially.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          yeah, choose to live closer to work

          where rents and property prices are 10x-50x higher than the less desireable parts of town that are farther away.


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a question

    do manufacturers who make things with oil/petrol other than vehicle fuel pay duty on the raw material? If they do then these taxes are even more unfair on the poor in developed countries.

    1. Ben Liddicott
      Paris Hilton

      No they don't

      Fuel duty is paid only on transport fuel.

      There are other taxes which are paid on feedstocks though.

  11. Is it me?

    Wedded to the car.

    In reality, you actually don't want the poor driving cars, anywhere, and you don't want the rich using them much either. The problem is, that in the west a car is a status symbol, and also a symbol of personal freedom. Take away a car, and you take away freedom.

    For employers, employee car ownership gives them a much larger pool of potential employees who can come to them, at their cost. Diminish car ownership, and you become reliant on public transport corridors and the local area. A lot of public and private organisations have been able to reduce their costs by centralising on cheap locations, at the expence of employees.

    Take cars away from the poor, and the cheap labour pool becomes smaller, and localised, and you have to diversify your locations, increasing your costs, so it's in the interests of the rich for the poor to have cars.

    It's also true that public transport is, on marginal cost, more expensive for an individual than driving.

    With government and industry trying to centralise in order that they have large low carbon footprint sites, shifts the transport footprint to the employee, and forces low paid employees to travel, by car, as there is very little, if in the way of public transport from their home.

    So unless Industry and Goverment start seriously thinking about the green footprint of their employees, rich or poor we all need cars. I'd prefer it that none of us need cars, but sadly increasing fuel costs will be the only way we all come of our car dependency, and not in a planned way.

    1. fandom

      "For employers, employee car ownership gives them a much larger pool of potential employees"

      Another way to look at it is that, thanks to roads and cars, people can look for a job beyond a 5 mile radius of where they live therefore being able to choose a better job instead of being slaved to the local ones or having to move every couple of years to the new company town.

    2. Old Tom

      My car is not a status symbol

      "The problem is, that in the west a car is a status symbol..."

      For a small minority maybe, but for me, my car is merely a practical device - it's no more a status symbol than my washing machine. I have a washing machine because it's crap for all sorts of reasons to have to go to the laundry; I have a car so I can go shopping, visit friends/relatives, go to the football, go on holiday, go to the tip, go to obscure places, take my family to the beach, get to work, etc., etc., etc.

    3. 5.antiago

      A car is more than a symbol

      "The problem is that in the west a car is... a symbol of personal freedom"

      It's more than a symbol. It is an expression and a genuine expansion of your fundamental freedom to move - think more "personalised motorised transportation" rather than "car". We're wedded to the car here in the West because they are bloody amazing; they enable so much that we take for granted. I think too many people forget that when discussing "the car" and its negative impacts on society

      Once you have a car, the only reason you'd give one up would be because the cost to your time (e.g. congestion in Central London) or the financial costs have become unsustainable. In everywhere other than central UK city locations not having a car puts you at a large disadvantage compared to others - you need motorised personal transportation for work, family life and holidays, and for the times when you don't actually *need* it, it makes life easier anyway. In other words, they are bloody amazing.

      Arguments about the future of "the car" are way off in my opinion. No one is going to give up the concept of personal transportation, it is embedded in our culture now. It would be better to focus on decarbonising the transport grid (e.g. by changing the fuel) instead of forcing people out of cars and depending on public services.

      Also, high running costs (e.g. high taxes) impact the poor by preventing them from owning and running their personal motorised transportation. You can't tell me that by pricing someone out of a car with too-high running costs they are therefore unaffected by the high running costs of a car. That just doesn't make sense to me

  12. Chris Miller

    School of Business, Economics and Law

    Is where he's a 'professor' - that would account for his utter understanding failure of anything except politics, then.

  13. Citizen Kaned

    not just that....

    i was in kenya last year. petrol was dirt cheap.

    their government also doesnt hammer everyone on fuel tax.

    it costs me over £100 a month in tax to get to work!!!

    any way i can claim that back somehow? seems so stupid im being taxed to get to work

    i work from 8am. to get in by public transport i would have to set off at 5am and not get home until 7pm.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hear that

      It costs me about £200 per month to drive to work. Work is not near a train station or bus route, so the only option I have is driving. I worked out a little while ago that getting to and from work basically costs me £1 for each hour I'm there.

      Which just sucks.

    2. Stuart 22

      Have you considered that you may be the problem we have to solve?

      On your figures I guess you must commute around 50 miles a day if you use a reasonably efficient motor car. So while the cost is a pain to you, the provision of roads and the congestion caused is a pain to society and the consequent emissions a pain to the planet.

      You complain that no using your car would mean being out of your home for 14 hours a day. That's what a lot of poor people have to suffer, they have no choice. You do, yet you winge.

      I know times now are difficult but up to about 4 years ago that was no excuse. The shift of motoring becoming significantly cheaper against public transport has helped fuel (sic) greater commuting by the comparatively well off and punished the poor and made public transport less sustainable.

      I'm afraid that picture yesterday in the Daily Mail of a property developer and his wife complaining about fuel duty for their gas guzzling superduper Range Rover didn't elicit tears here. You may be a special case but this is a problem with which being fair to you is being mightily unfair to others.

      1. NomNomNom

        even if you were near a train station i would bet you that it would cost more to travel by train rather than by car. Train prices are a joke. Costs me about £5 a day to get to and from work by car. There's no way I could get a £5 return ticket in rush hour. No way. Plus the inconvenience of the stations at either end being 20-30 minute walk from both my house and by work.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        I don't this the OP is a special case at all. I drive to a P&R then cycle in to work. It was my choice to move where I live (very rural), but then had an enforced change of jobs which doubled my commute time. I cannot afford to move any closer to work because of the mad house costs close to Cambridge, so have to rely on the car. I would like to move closer, but cannot. There are no jobs in my field closer to home.

        I spend £3000 a year on petrol, which even as a high rate tax payer is a big chunk of cash (remember that's after tax).

        There is not a snowballs chance in hell of any public transport even venturing in to my village.

        What do you propose I do? How are you going to solve MY problem. It all very well saying someone is a problem, but if you cannot come up with a solution, I think stop complaining about us 'whingers'. To be honest, although I find the petrol price very high, I feel much more sorry for those people on lower salaries in the same position than myself. They must struggle like hell, and have no option at all. Those are the ones entitled to whinge.

        1. Andrew Roberts 1

          Cambridge - the nastiest of special cases

          Unfortunately, until the powers in Cambridge recognise thay they need to allow the city to grow without creating numerous satellite towns beyond cycling distance to feed the tech employers in town, or stop the tech employers in town from employing anyone else, you'll be stuck in a high house prices vs. horrible commute battle.

          Unless enough of those clever employees decide that enough is enough and start looking for work elsewhere, in which case the companies will follow. Other than some great companies to work for, there's not a lot to recommend the place, unless you really like punting.

      3. Anonymous Coward

        @Stuart 22

        You seem very able to pass judgement over the OP's life without knowing anything about him.

        "So while the cost is a pain to you" only a pain? you know this?

        "for 14 hours a day. That's what a lot of poor people have to suffer, they have no choice. You do, yet you winge." how do you know he is not poor? why is this a "winge" - how prejorative and subjective.

        "You may be a special case but this is a problem with which being fair to you is being mightily unfair to others" !!?!

        Maybe you can help the environment by travelling everywhere on your high horse?

        oh and "helped fuel (sic) " doesn't mean what you think it does

      4. 5.antiago

        "Have you considered that you may be the problem we have to solve?"

        The problem is a little more complicated than that. You see, there are 30 million-ish in the UK working population, and the needs and behaviour of millions of people cannot be dismissed with such an airy wave of the hand

        In this case, is he supposed to just move closer to work? And then, if he gets made redundant or his contract/temporary position comes to a close, he finds another job and is forced to move his home closer to this new location. And so on, racking up £10,000s in fees and services necessary for moving home every time if he can even find a home within a suitable transport corridor or cycling distance because workplaces and affordable living areas are not automatically coupled together

        There are loads of workplaces in this country which are not well-served by public transport, for example mine, or this guy here that you've replied to. Outside of London you need a car to be competitive in the work-force, and this may make a real difference for your dependants.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Has the OP considered LPG instead of petrol/derv?

          70.9 p a litre. My car gets the petrol equivalent of about 70+mpg ish withiout the necessity to be a poky little box. It's a comfy fully equipped 1.6 five seater.

          If your circumstances are right it's dirt cheap. Second only to a small derv vehicle, but quieter.

          1. Citizen Kaned

            im considering it...

            i bought a petrol estate car last year before old company went tits up but i do stand to lose a fair chunk of cash if i trade it in.

            im also moving house soon to be near my parent as my father is on his last legs, even more mileage.... but at least its in a nice village.

            there is talk of a new ringroad - where i live they only did half a ringroad and half of that is single carriage

      5. Citizen Kaned

        4 years ago...

        i worked 3 miles from my home. i could get to work in 5 mins in a car. no issue there. busses were still shit so i couldnt rely on them (often just dont turn up). as a family we need a car. if you pay all the insurance and road tax its stupid not to use it and use public transport. where i live public transport isnt great. i dont live in london.

        recession hit and company closed down and i was forced to find work elsewhere.

        i have a 3 month old son. im sure he would love to see me for 1 hour a day until he is 10. public transport is a none starter. the nearest bus stop to work is 2 miles and thats after 2 bus journeys to it.

        i run a megane. hardly a gas guzzler.

        i take it you would prefer me to stop going to work and my family all claim benefits. yeah, that would help us all out! <claps>

        1. Eponymous Cowherd
          Thumb Up

          Nicely put

          @Citizen Kaned:

          Well put. Similar situation to me.

          Every morning the alam goes off at 6AM and I'm out of the house by 6:20. Don't get home until about 19:30. Public transport not an option (doesn't run at that time of the morning) and would mean getting home at 20:30 in the evening (I did look into it).

          Its all very well whining and saying we car-commuters are the problem, but its a choice of car or benefits and I'd rather be a working, tax-paying, self supporting "problem" than a sit-on-my-arse-and-scrounge-off-the-state kind of problem.

  14. phen

    If these fuel taxes are limited to only petrol, and do not include diesel (food and goods transport), and paraffin (cooking and lighting in much of the third world), then this would not greatly effect the poor in countries with good public transport.

    It will also then not effect the rich, as it just means their next Beamer/Merc will be of the diesel guzzling variety. So it only squeezes those who can't afford a new luxury diesel to replace their ageing petrol cars. It also effects those who rely on mini-bus taxis (the poor in countries with poor public transport). Good work guys!

  15. Peter Gordon

    Surely poor people have to get around, even if they don't have a car?

    Higher fuel taxes = more expensive petrol = more expensive to run busses = more expensive public transport.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Let's keep the riff raff poor off the road

      More room for our taxpayer funded luxo barges...poop poop!

      Thats the official HMG position.

  16. Paul 87

    This guy is an idiot, petrol taxes in the developed world hit the poor far harder than the rich. The rich can afford to purchase the latest, fuel efficient vehicles, keep them maintained better and also pay far less % on traveling costs.

    In fact, you could go so far as to argue that petrol taxes are one of the factors that reduce social mobility, if you can't afford to travel in a cost effective manner, you can't seek out new employment opportunities outside your local geographical area. Even if you get a job interview thanks to the Internet, it often proves impractical to get there, or to relocate if you can't afford to drive.

  17. Tony Paulazzo

    I love the fact that as a poor, struggling, sole trader who can only afford a second hand, ten year old car, that I get to pay over £115 a year for road tax, whilst my rich neighbour (and it has to be said, friend), only pays £35 for the same roads because his car is brand new and apparently has better emissions than mine. (UK complaint).

    I would love to drive a low emission brand new car but simple economics denies me this simple planet saving desire - which I don't mind, no penis envy here, but it does feel like I'm being punished for simply not being rich enough (or poor enough) to not pay taxes (gotta love the double negative).

    Mind you, if the government stopped skimming two thirds of the price of petrol we'd both be happy.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Yup, you have to have money to make money is the mantra here.

      It's just like the furore over feed-in tariffs. Free electricity for those who can afford to drop a few grand on covering their roof in photovoltaics. Those who can't afford to do this get to pay for their own electricity and that of the wealthy too.

      Fair? We've heard of that, but it doesn't fit the political agenda.

      "...people living in poorer nations have much less access to cars ...". And the greenies are working to make sure it stays that way! I guess there are still those in the west who have a vested interest in keeping the peasants of the developing world ground down and nothing much has changed in the last couple of hundred years, bar the justification used.

  18. lumpaywk

    If they want us to use less fuel they should make it easier and cheaper to own 2 cars or even a moped. I have to odrive a 7 seater as i have a large familt but cannot afford to buy a second viachle. This means that i drive the 7 seater to and from work when there is only me in the car. If i could afford to have a smaller car or motorbike i would drive that instead.

    Second point is people hardly drive for fun and the ones that do will continue to do so. I drive because i need to work i need to take my kids to school and do shopping etc. I cant live without a car. Putting high tax on fuel wont stop me driving it just means i have less money to put back into the ecconomy thus making the crises even worse.

    These people are paid big money from big people to make this stuff up so they can charge us more. Its like when the prices of oil go up after disruptions in the middle east etc. Thats rubbish they just say it so they can charge more hence why each year its all storys of record profits. Dont quite add up does it? how canthey be forced to up prices because they are struggaling then to turn round and claime record profits.

    Open your eyes people we are getting rapped from every side.

    1. No, I will not fix your computer


      A moped would cost <£300 insurance and tax is tiny, so either you're driving out of the range of a bicycle and you would recoup this very quickly (more so if you can avoid parking costs) or perhaps a bicycle/car share/public transport is a better option?

      I also assume that you're too far from school to walk? Have you considered home shopping delivery? it saves me fuel and time (which both add up to more than delivery costs).

      Assuming you need a 7 seater I'm guessing you have 5 kids? over double the average and so you can't get away with a C1/107/Aygo, well that is fundamentally your choice, and your right to have as many kids as you like, but if you want things cheaper because you have more kids you're just asking those who don't need a big car to subsidise you?

      >>I cant live without a car.


    2. Nuke

      @ Lumpaywk

      "Second point is people hardly drive for fun"

      Plenty do. I am in a photographic club of which about 25% of the members are OAPs. From what I hear they spend their days driving around the countryside between garden centres, meeting up with each other at the coffee counters (they never seem to buy any gardening stuff though).

      Another OAP I know lives on the east side Bristol but drives to a bakers shop in Clifton (west side of Bristol) and back to buy a loaf of bread >>every morning in the rush hour<<. He does it from "loyalty" to the bakers and he seems to enjoy the buzz of rush hour traffic.

      "and the ones that do will continue to do so"

      Too true.

      "high tax on fuel ... means i have less money to put back into the economy"

      The tax does end up in the economy (except any that goes to "overseas aid"). Do you think the Government drops it into a black hole?

  19. Ben Rosenthal

    words fail and so does Prof Thomas Sterner.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuel taxes are probably higher on goods than we might expect. Say you can ship 1000 widgets for £10.00 paid in tax on the fuel, you might think fuel tax makes up 1p of the cost for each item.

    However that 1p will be included in the wholesale cost of those goods which then has VAT and retailer markup (and wholesaler, intermediate supplier etc.) applied, which will likely become 1.5p or more by the time it reaches the shelf. The same happens with other costs (and indeed further fuel tax costs in shipping) all along the chain. Costs including fuel taxes are multiplied by the margins tacked on later in the chain and this impacts all buyers, disproportionately so for lower income people.

    I do accept however (and think it's pretty obvious) that if you take a world view, the very poorest people do not use much transport and generally eat food & use goods grown and made extremely locally. For those people, what we do with fuel taxes is an irrelevance. It's quite a sight to see huge trucks apparently still running since the 1950s, packed full with hundreds of people standing in the back, holding each other in as they barrel down the road commuting back to the cities on a Sunday afternoon on the highways of India, narrowly avoiding the suicidal scooter riders coming the wrong way because it's shorter than crossing and coming back.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What A Moron

    For a lot of people the cost of an actual car isn't why it will be seen as a luxury item, the combined cost of owning a car is a blocker to many, in most poorer countries bikes are more popular and these need fuel to run and an increase in the cost of fuel is going to effect everyone. Then there is the effect of prices of other items, the food at your local market has to be delivered somehow and fuel is required for this, agriculture also requires fuel even though they get a reduced rate they still pay duty this is a price that gets passed on. This is just an example of someone going out to find some data to support their beliefs and ignoring anything that contradicts that!

  22. Dr Dan Holdsworth

    Refer to "How to lie with Statistics"

    One of the tricks in that august tome was this: If you cannot prove something honestly, prove something else and claim (or allow people to think) that you have proven the unprovable.

    This study specifically targets gasoline, AKA petrol. By specifically targeting petrol, it excludes diesel yet I am certain that politicians will leap upon this load of old cobblers to mean that taxing ANY fuel only hits "the rich".

    Needless to say, if you slap a tax on all road vehicle fuels including diesel, then you put a tax on food distribution, public transport and so on; taxing petrol may not hit the poor much but taxing diesel certainly hits them and given how much of their income goes on things like food, public transport and so on, a tax on diesel will hit the poor disproportionately.

    So, yet another study in weasel words.

  23. TopOnePercent Silver badge

    The flatter the tax the fairer it is

    The Prof has gone wrong from the get go because he's fallen for the old "fairness" lie.

    The only fair tax is a flat tax. The more you earn, the more you pay. Attaching emotive terms such as progressive or regressive is the strategy of the socialist who's rhetoric has been proven to fail at every turn.

    I'm on course to take my family from blue collar factory worker to "rich" in one generation, and I am nothing special. If the poor want what the rich have then they'll need to work longer, harder, and smarter for it.

    Fuel tax is an ideal tax because its a (somewhat) voluntary flat tax which is very hard to evade. People can choose a more economic vehicle, public transport, a motor bike instead of a car etc etc and the more you consume the service the more you pay towards its cost.

    The Prof needs to take off his socialist blinkers and live in the real world for a while, before he wastes his whole life barking up the wrong tree.

    1. NomNomNom

      I presume your chosen user name is designed to reflect your wealth? Nice

      1. TopOnePercent Silver badge


        Actually, no, it doesn't. My user name is more reflective of my ambition than my fiscal standing.

        I'd probably be in the top 25-33% if I used wealth as the criteria, which isn't bad given I was born well into the lower 25% and I haven't hit 40 yet. I've been very lucky, but luck is what often happens when preparation and hardwork meet opportunity.

        There's a very credible case that everyone should pay the same tax. Not just a flat tax you understand, but the same fiscal amount. That way each UK resident pays their own way and anything over that sum you earn, you keep. That would provide a huge stimulus to people to work harder and achieve more.

        Personally I'd rather see a flat tax, which with appropriate public sector cuts could be set as low as 20%. Asking people to work until midday Wednesday every week for the benefit of people who choose not to work (or choose not to work very hard) is utterly immoral. It destroys ambition and retards our economy.

        All taxes should ideally be upon consumption, rather than income, but that would take a major intellectual upgrade of the UK to get past the polling booths.

    2. PsychicMonkey
      Thumb Up

      totally agree

      the "rich" already pay a larger proportion of their income (ok, maybe not the mega-rich as their accountants get round it) and it's still not fair.

      The problem seems to be that anyone earning over £40k a year gets labelled as rich by anyone earning under £40k.

      The thing I don't understand is why it is seen as fair that anyone should pay a larger proportion of their income than anyone else, just because Wayne Rooney earns more than me does that make it fair he pays a larger proportion of his income than I do? if we pay the same proportion then he still pays more than me. To my mind the best way to help the economy is to let people spend their money not take it and spend it for them. Tax the things we buy and raise needed cash that way. It seems to work elsewhere, just none of our politicians have the balls to implement it.

      I grew up in a poor family, it didn’t make me think that others should contribute more than me, it made me want to work harder to get the lifestyle I wanted.

      I might even get there one day….

      1. peter_dtm

        @ PsychicMonkey

        I once walked a socialist through the following :

        tax is 10% :

        10% of £100 is £10 'poor' worker pays £10 tax

        10% of £1000 is £100 'rich bastard' pays £100 tax

        Who pays more tax ?

        socialist answer : Neither they both pay the same 10% which (according to socialists) is unfair.

        question : isn't £100 more than £10 ? so the rich bastard pays more tax n'est ce pas ?

        answer : No it isn't he only pays 10% the same as the poor worker - stop trying to confuse me with hard maths they both pay 10% so it's not fair the rich must be made to pay more........

        Until those simple socialists understand numbers we will never win this argument; and they will only understand numbers when they are educated enough to stop being socialists.....

        1. catprog

          >10% of £100 is £10 'poor' worker pays £10 tax

          >10% of £1000 is £100 'rich bastard' pays £100 tax

          correct socialist answer:

          Poor worker spends £80 on a basic lifestyle. (food,house,transport)

          £20 for luxuries which £10 gets taken out as tax. poor worker gets 50% tax on luxury money.

          'rich bastard' spends the same £80 on a basic lifestyle.

          £920 left for luxuries of which £100 is tax. =10.87% tax on luxury money.

          correct capitalist answer:

          Why should the 'rich bastard' have to pay tax he is employing the £100 workers. He has to pay the £100 tax and the £100 salary. So out of his £1100 he is paying £200 out.

          £10 of £100 is 10%

          £200 of £1100 is 18.19%

          Why should the rich have to pay more to other people then the poor person.

          1. peter_dtm

            that's disposable income you are talking about

            that's disposable income you are talking about - NOT the amount of tax paid; and the FACT that the rich pay more tax. - so in this case ten times more tax. Whether such a difference in disposable income should exist is a completely different argument; one thing for sure; if you tax the rich more; they will either avoid paying tax (which is legal) or just pay themselves more - to the detriment of the amount of money left to pay the 'poor workers'

            So if you look at disposable income - guess what - in the UK after paying rent most of the rest of the £80 is spent on tax free basics. Quite possibly the poor worker gets tax credits too - as well as possibly paying less in council tax.

            So out of the rich bastards disposable income; most of the extra's will attract 20% VAT - lets say for sake of argument that he spends another £800 each period. That is another £133.33333 in tax - so the total he now pays is £233.33333. The other £100 probably went on council tax (which would give him a tax spend of £333.33333 - or a third (33%) of his income)

            So the rich bastard IS being penalised for daring to be rich.

            If you earn more you spend more - if you spend more you pay more in tax

            So not only do you pay more income tax and N; but, because you spend more you get taxed more. And consider this possibility maybe he spends £100 on a gardener - thereby employing the 'poor worker' anyway.

            Of course; any sane taxation limit would only start charging income tax after earnings exceeded minimum wage. But then a sane tax system would only tax money that is spent and do away with income tax (and that other income tax NI) totally.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Case in point: the USA

      Job creation has dropped along with the progressive tax rate on the wealthy. Until the 1960s, the top tax rate was 90% and job creation was high (and unemployment low), now it is 35% and job creation is nil. Causation? TopOnePercent doesn't think so, but he will defend his interests by denying it.

      Obviously the "job creators" have gotten fat and complacent, as any fat cat would. Meanwhile, the fat cats slurp up all the cream, leaving none for the 99%.

    4. Bassey

      more economic

      "People can choose a more economic vehicle, public transport, a motor bike instead of a car etc etc and the more you consume the service the more you pay towards its cost"

      I hear this argument a lot. Politicians, when asked what people can do about rising fuel costs, often go on about how people could insulate their homes, shop around for the cheapest supplier etc etc.

      I did that. Several years ago. I double insulated the loft. Had cavity wall insultation injected into the walls. Replaced the boiler with a super-efficient condenser. Had all the windows checked and re-sealed. Sold the old 1.2 Clio (45mpg) and got a 1l Hyundai that does about 65mpg. I lift share with two people in my village. I swapped my mobile contract for one costing just £7.50/month all in. I'm on the cheapest broadband and the cheapest everything else.

      I haven't had a pay rise in four years but my wife and I have an extra mouth to feed now. There IS no public transport where we live and we can't sell our house (on the market for over 2 years) to move nearer to work. I was spending about £150 on petrol getting to work. Thanks to fuel price rises It is now around £250 and with 30% hikes in gas, heating oil, electric etc....

      What the fuck do I do now?

      1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

        "What the fuck do I do now?"

        Well, I work an average 65 hour week (and have time for a wonderful family and many hobbies). I'll not be so crass as to suggest that perhaps working overtime or a second job would help as only you can make that choice.

        So, to constructively stay with the car theme:

        Learn to service the car yourself (I learned out of necessity and continue now out of choice). This will save £££ a year and provide you an opportunity for another income stream (I'm assuming you aren't already a mechanic).

        Avoid depreciation by running 10+ year old cars - cheap to repair with parts from a scrapyard, once you've mastered servicing.

        To switch track a bit you presumably work in or around IT or otherwise have a hobby related to it. How many iClone apps have you tried producing? How many people have you taught basic computer skills too? Thought about tax minimisation at all?

        Complaining is great for letting off steam, but ultimately hopeless for changing anything. People need to take responsibility for helping themselves instead of waiting for the government to make someone else pay more tax to help them.

        1. Goat Jam

          I Call Bullshit

          "Well, I work an average 65 hour week (and have time for a wonderful family and many hobbies)"

          I am utterly sick of chest thumping asshats who claim that you can work long hours and still "have time for a wonderful family and many hobbies"

          If you want to slave away every day then good luck to you. Don't expect everybody to feel the need to abase themselves at the Altar of Capitalism though. I assume you are relatively young and can get by with little sleep and make up the difference with caffiene or Red Bull.

          Let's see how you feel about working 65 hours a week when you are approaching 50, and your body is not just up to that sort of punishment any more.

          From 50 it just get's worse.

          But you gotta keep your nose to that grindstone and keep up the hours lest a new young asshat (like you once were) come along at the start of his work life who is stupid enough to burn himself out working even more hours a week all the while asserting to all and sundry that they still "have time for a wonderful family and many hobbies" and everyone else should just suck it up.

          Congratulations. You work a lot of hours. You must feel great about that because we all live just to work right?

          Come back later when your body and mind are tired, and there is some young guy nipping at your heels who is willing to do even more hours than you are capable of just so he can take your job of you.

          After all it's all about survival of the fittest right?

          1. TopOnePercent Silver badge


            Well, if you don't want to put the hours in then you've no right to ask those of us who do to pay more tax to subsidise your standard of living. That'd be the logic of an "asshat".

            I work in a field that was formerly a hobby and have the foresight to get paid for another couple of my hobbies. I don't view hard work as being a hardship.

            People need to understand that throwing taxes at those of us who do work hard is no more valid than throwing taxes at those of us who don't. So lets invert the system - 50% tax on the first 10k, 40% on the next 40k, 20% thereafter. Happy now? No, so don't expect me to be when you want to steal more of my wealth to pay for your excessive leisure time.

            Would I like more leisure time? Sure, who wouldn't, but I'll never earn the Ferrari that way.

      2. No, I will not fix your computer


        >>What the fuck do I do now?

        Being in a similar boat (0.75% pay rise in the last 6 years, so slightly better than you I guess), I'd have to make two observations;

        1. Why did you have another kid when you have had financial issues for so long?

        2. If a house doesn't sell, you're asking too much.

        These are two major issues, it looks like you've done lots of little good things for saving money, but if you still can't keep your head above water, perhaps the major ones are the issue? don't upsize your family! houses are the same, if you genuinely needed to move you'll need to be realistic about what your house is worth and what you need to move to.

        For me, I'm skint so my thirsty sports bike is off the road and the thrifty car is on, my four bed detached house in a village cul-de-sac with nice gardens and detached garage is gone and the city 3 bed in a less than salubrious area is here, holidays cancelled, ISAs cashed in, eBay is my friend, but only when I've sold enough to buy something, I'm not complaining, it's all just stuff and there's people worse off than me, I'm working, eating, breathing.

  24. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Dan Holdsworth is right ....

    It really is quite straightforward.

    Food is cheaper if it's created in bulk and then moved to where it's needed. If that was not true all the big farms just would not exist. In fact it's wider - any commercial items at all are best made on bulk.

    So any tax on movement will have an impact of everything.

    At any one time companies use the cheapest method of moving things. Including people. As we know, in many cases that equates to a truck. These are practically the only method of moving items in a country without a rich infrastructure. If you tax fuel you do not magically make money appear - the money comes from the extra price each customer pays cover the extra cost of moving things.

    If this Professor really hates rich people, he should suggest taxing things only rich people do.

  25. JeffyPooh

    Prof Thomas Sterner at the University of Gothenburg needs to get out more...

    I mean seriously.

    If one travels to a perfectly typical developing country such as The Philippines, one will find that the back alleys are completely full of various home-brewed wheeled contraptions running on - gasp - gasoline. Commercially-constructed motorcycles are another example; the Honda 50cc at 60m+ being 'The Most Popular Gasoline-powered Motor Vehicle In The Known Universe' ™. Me thinks that the good Prof doesn't get out much.

    Then there's the whole layer of working blokes driving Jeepneys, taxi cabs and trucks. These people are still firmly in the lower class (good hard-working people). When the price of gasoline goes up, their income typically goes down until the income stream is eventually adjusted. It always hurts. Always.

    Anyway... Look at it from the other side? Who typically benefits from rising crude oil prices? Think about it.

  26. Alan Brown Silver badge

    The prof assumes

    1: That only road transport fuel is taxed (Many jurisdictions tax things like kerosene heavily because they want to discourage its use for lighting in favour of electricity)

    2: That the same tax setup as his country applies in other countries (New Zealand abolished untaxed petrol for boats/farmers and light aircraft in the 1970s because too much of it was finding its way into road vehicles. diesel is untaxed and vehicles use hubometers on a pay-per-mile*weight basis, which makes diesel cars pretty cheap to feed.

    3: That public transport is heavily subsidised as it is in the EU (~90% in northern europe outside the UK)

    4: That collected taxes are fed back into transport infrastructure for the benefit of all (untrue in most countries - just about everyone has breached that walled garden)

    5: That tax structures in poor countries are sensible or fair. The poorest countries seem to have the highest protectionist import duties/taxes measures which tend to exacerbate problems by driving the cost of everything upwards.

  27. Joe Montana

    Very poor..

    These taxes dont *DIRECTLY* effect the *VERY POOR*...

    The very rich are fine, they don't care about the costs.

    The reasonably rich can afford new fuel efficient cars, so aren't all that bothered.

    The moderately poor are worst off because they can typically only afford older cars which are likely to be less fuel efficient...

    The very poor cannot afford to operate cars at all, but the higher price of fuel only serves to increase the number of people who fall into this category.

    Fuel tax is not a "luxury tax", it affects everyone, either directly or indirectly...

    Goods need to be transported, higher transport costs = higher goods cost.

    Public transport is not accessible to everyone, eg many disabled people cannot use it.

    Public transport does not go everywhere.

    Public transport is often totally impractical if you have lots of stuff to carry.

    Higher fuel costs affect public transport providers too.

  28. Curly4

    A solution to air polution.

    I disagree that an increase in fuel taxes don't effect the poor. That statement may be more true in the less developed countries where farm animals are used for transportation. Even these countries there is some products which have to be moved by some sort of motor vehicle and those products will be effected which would reduce what the poor can now afford.

    It seems that air pollution (co2) has been brought about by the industrial revolution. If that is true then the answer is to reverse the revolution and return the population back to the environment that they were in before the industrial revolution. To take the solution a little farther take the population to what it was about 25000 years ago to the last ice age. Then again then I am sure they the population at that time was hopping for some global warming. By the way what caused the ice age to go away, it surely was not the people?

  29. Allen Versfeld

    Developing countries

    Living in a developing country, I can attest that the vast poor majority travel to work by minibus taxi. They're usually unroadworthy, poorly maintained, overloaded and madly driven and (usually) 15+ years old. They probably use quite a lot of fuel. And every time the fuel price goes up, so do the taxi fares.

    As a secondary point, most goods are transported by truck. Increased fuel prices thus spill over into pretty much everything you find on a shop shelf - food, clothes, paraffin...

    Comparatively rich buggers like me (My house has windows that open, a bathroom, and is divided into these things called "Rooms") can absorb these extra costs. Poor people can't. But at least they don't own cars, the lucky buggers...

  30. Dan Paul

    What happened to Reason and Common Sense?

    Correct me if i am wrong, but aren't "Professors" supposed to have a better education than those who are not "Professors"?

    It appears to me that Thomas Sterner is well educated in everything but Reason and Common Sense. Apparently those living in the cloistered abbeys of "Education" seem to have lost sight of what "real" people have to deal with. I will bet that he lives in University provided housing, on campus, rides a bicycle everywhere because nothing is less than one kilometer from his office and since he is a professor, lives quite comfortably and probably always has.

    The so called "poor " (in his area) are not affected by increased fuel taxes because they don't have or need motor vehicles.

    That is NOT the case in all countries, particularly here in the US where I live. Urban Sprawl sent the middle class to the suburbs and now that they are the "Nouveau Poor" they need a car to get to work or even to obtain employment. Go figure but those who get Public Assistance are not allowed to own a car even though that prevents them from getting jobs that could pull them out of poverty (even if the car is 20 years old and is free to begin with) This shortsightedness keeps these people in the Welfare system. Though there are those welfare clients who register vehicles with others that are not on welfare, these are relatively uncommon.

    Increased Fuel taxes are passed on to any and all consumers of food or other neccessities of life due to fuel use in food production, processing and transport. Sure the Farmer does not pay tax on diesel for his tractor and harvesters but he does pay tax on all other fuels. The trucker who bring the food to the processing plant pays tax, the processing plant pays tax, the trucker who brings the food to the distribution warehouse pays tax as does the trucker who carries the food to the grocery store and the consumer who drives to the store to buy the finished product.

    What is so hard to understand about that?

  31. JeffyPooh

    More new cars = less air pollution and less AGW gases?

    **People need to notice that the roads in many of these poor countries are already completely full.**

    The number of vehicles simply cannot (for example) double (as some people believe). So new cars will probably replace home-brew vehicles that are worse. If the modern (pollution controlled) cars replace homemade NOx-belching contraptions powered by clapped-out lawnmower engines, then more new cars may improve the situation in every possible way.

  32. Saoir

    "Petrol taxes are effective and actually don’t affect poor people disproportionally"

    You really have to wonder what kind of education and intellect is behind this kind of nonsense. Almost everything we buy is moved to where we are from where it was produced.

    How does it get here ? ...... Most of it gets here by TRUCK !!! or VAN !!

    Petrol goes up ? .... transport costs go up ..... prices go up ......

    So tell us again how it doesn't affect the poor ???

  33. wheel

    But... what? Eh?

    Is this really the argument? :-

    Fuel tax doesn't affect the poor because they don't use fuel.

    Therefore, we can tax fuel without worrying that it makes poor people poorer, because they're already too poor to afford it.

    This is baffling. Either it could be used to argue for a complete ban on all fuel use – because the poor don't need it, so why should the rich? – or, conversely, that fuel tax should be completely eliminated so that the poor can more readily afford it.

    Any *tax* on fuel designed to reduce use – rather than, say, fuel rationing – is economic warfare, and those who have the least money will be the worst affected – even if that means that someone who doesn't currently run a car cannot afford to run one!

    Personally I don't necessarily oppose a fuel tax, but I cannot see a real argument here. Even leaving aside the very pertinent matter of secondary costs, the argument only works if you define the poor as those who are too poor to be affected by the tax, in which case it is a circular argument.

    "Only people who cannot afford fuel are poor, so increasing fuel taxes will not affect the poor."

    (Let's also leave aside those people who might become 'poor' because of higher fuel prices!)

  34. Cuger

    Cuger Brant

    What a load of hedonistic rubbish. It sounds as though you are all living in an ivory tower and living safe in your internet land looking down on the rest of humanity! Nature will not choose when it is angry. For sure it is slow to be perturbed, but when it is; neither your smug rhetoric will be of concern. Taxes are like death; inevitable! So what the hell has a car got to do with anything? And who dubbed the causality of ‘climate change’ on cars in the first place? You might just as well blame the infamous ‘carrier bag’ for a topic. Are you lot living on my planet?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Except that in poor countries (and I was born in one), most FOOD is still transported by fuel-based transport. So food will go up, hitting everybody; but poor people spend most of their income in food, hence they will be hit hardest, even without owning cars.

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