What are the purposes of the federal gas tax, FICA and federal income tax?

Question: What are the purposes of the federal gas tax, FICA, and federal income tax?


  1. The federal government and states both impose gas taxes, with much of the revenue raised going toward fixing highways and other infrastructure projects.
  2. The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is a U.S. law that mandates a payroll tax on the paychecks of employees, as well as contributions from employers, to fund the Social Security and Medicare programs.
  3. Tax revenue allows the government to operate and provide goods and services for citizens. These goods and services include roads, bridges, national parks, education, research and national defense.

The answers to the questions can be summarized as: The purpose of federal taxes is to fund federal spending. You can find these answers at the indicated links and in thousands of places on the Internet, except . . .

. . . the answers are wrong. Federal taxes fund nothing. 




Status of Major Federal Trust Funds
Dates “trust funds” supposedly will exhaust their cash, except it’s all a lie. The “trust funds” are not real trust funds, and there is no cash. Congress and the President have total control over all spending, which is done with newly created dollars, ad hoc. The government never can run short of dollars.

State and local taxes stay in the economy (aka, the private sector). They are deposited in private banks and then are used to fund state and local spending.

But federal taxes are destroyed upon receipt. They no longer stay in the economy. They no longer are part of the money supply measure M2. They cease to exist.

This fact is not understood by the vast majority because of the erroneous communications sent every day.

I. The Purpose of the Federal Gas Tax

Biden says decision on gas tax holiday may come this week
Aamer Madhani and Josh Boak
Associated Press
REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — The administration is increasingly looking for ways to spare the public from higher prices at the pump, which began to climb last year and surged after Russia invaded Ukraine in February.

The Biden administration has already released oil from the U.S. strategic reserve and increased ethanol blending for the summer, in additional to sending a letter last week to oil refiners urging them to increase their refining capacity.

Yet those efforts have yet to reduce price pressures meaningfully, such that the administration is now considering a gas tax holiday. Taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel help to pay for highways.

There it is, the Big Lie that federal taxes pay for things. 

The government, being Monetarily Sovereign, has the infinite ability to create its own sovereign currency, the U.S. dollar. 

The federal government never unintentionally can run short of dollars. Even if total federal tax collections equaled $0, the federal government could continue spending, forever. The federal government already has unlimited dollars to pay for highways.

Given that simple fact, there is no reason why the federal government would need to collect taxes for spending. The sole function of the federal gas tax is to discourage driving. It’s an effort to reduce gasoline usage.

And that is the fundamental difference between federal finances vs. state/local government finances. State and local governments can and do run short of dollars. Their taxes do fund spending.

Federal taxes have only one purpose: Taxes discourage what the government wants to limit, and tax breaks encourage what the government wants to grow.

The Penn Wharton Budget Model released estimates Wednesday showing that consumers saved at the pump because of gas tax holidays in Connecticut, Georgia and Maryland. 

Sadly, the state and local governments, which do not have the infinite ability to create dollars are doing what the federal government should have done.

In an interview Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen expressed an openness to a federal gas tax holiday to give motorists some relief.

Oil refiners say their ability to produce additional gas and diesel fuel is limited, meaning that prices could remain high unless demand starts to wane.

The gas tax holiday would encourage driving, but this would reduce supplies, thereby increasing prices. Clearly, Janet Yellen has no plan for reducing inflation.

In all fairness, however, reducing inflation requires reducing shortages of key goods and services, and that is Congress’s job, not the Fed’s.

Only Congress has the power to increase supplies of scarce goods and services.

The American Petroleum Institute and American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers sent a joint letter to Biden on Wednesday that said refineries are operating near their maximum capacityalready and nearly half of the capacity taken off line was due to the facilities converting to renewable fuel production.

A gas tax holiday would make the scarcity situation worse, although there would be an economic benefit to not removing dollars from the economy.

“Today’s situation did not materialize overnight and will not be quickly solved,” the letter said. “To protect and foster U.S. energy security and refining capacity, we urge to you to take steps to encourage more domestic energy production,” including new infrastructure and reducing regulatory burdens.

That letter does indicate one of the steps the federal government should take to fight inflation: Take steps to encourage more domestic energy production,” including new infrastructure.

Last week, the Federal Reserve stepped up its drive to tame inflation by raising its key interest rate by three-quarters of a point — its largest increase in nearly three decades — and signaled more large rate increases to come.

The cause of inflation is shortages of gas, oil, foods, shipping, computer chips, lumber, housing, and labor. An increase in interest rates will not address any of those causes.

II. The purpose of FICA

The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) is a U.S. law that mandates a payroll tax on the paychecks of employees, as well as contributions from employers, to fund the Social ecurity and Medicare programs.

Wrong again. Federal taxes fund nothing.

The sole purpose of FICA, as told by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was so that “no damn politician can ever scrap my Social Security program” (because it is an earned benefit ostensibly funded by the workers themselves.) FICA is not economics. FICA is psychology.

Sadly, rather than protecting Social Security, FICA and its fake “trust funds” have been an excuse for reducing benefits.

Social Security has undergone significant changes since Fuller received her first check, including the addition of disability benefits in 1956. Today, 59 million retired workers, spouses, disabled workers and survivors get monthly payments averaging $1,194.

The latest overhaul came in 1983, when Social Security was on the brink of insolvency. Congress increased payroll taxes, cut benefits and gradually extended the age when retirees can claim full benefits.

The changes shored up Social Security’s finances so it could absorb the initial wave of retiring baby boomers.

The preceding paragraphs demonstrate the lie about Social Security being paid by “trust funds.”

Social Security was “on the brink of insolvency” only because Congress and President Reagan wanted to cut benefits. Otherwise, they merely could have authorized additional federal payments to the program, just as they do when the Army needs more money.

In a real “trust fund,” the trustees (the government) could not arbitrarily add disability benefits. In a real trust fund, the trustee could not arbitrarily extend the age for claiming full benefits. In a real trust fund, the trustee could not arbitrarily invent new rules about working people receiving or not receiving benefits.

Social Security is nothing more than a government agency, and like all other government agencies, it rises or falls on the whim of Congress and the then-current President.

In that sense, it is no different from the military, NASA, or the FBI, except none of them are limited by a fake “trust fund.”

III. The purpose of federal income taxes.

You can spend your life searching sources, and the vast majority will tell you something like this one:

“Taxes (in all their various forms) are the revenue stream that a government needs to provide the services that its citizenry demand of it. If you want the government to perform some action, well, it needs some money to pay for it. Taxes are how we do that.”

The first clue that the author doesn’t know what he or she is talking about comes from the words, “a government.” The tacit assumption is that the finances of a monetarily sovereign government are the same as the finances of a monetarily non-sovereign government.

The former are money creators like the governments of the U.S., Canada, the UK, Mexico, Australia, et al. The latter are money users like the governments of Illinois, Chicago, France, Italy, et al.

Money creators cannot run short of their own sovereign currency, and for that reason they neither need nor use tax. 

Former Federal Reserve Chairman, Alan Greenspan: “A government cannot become insolvent with respect to obligations in its own currency.”

The U.S. government cannot run short of dollars. Similarly, the Canadian, UK, Mexican, Australian etc. government cannot run short of their currencies.

By contrast, money users like the Illinois and Chicago governments can run short of dollars, and the governments of France, Italy, etc. can run short of euros. So they need to collect taxes. That is the way they acquire euros.

In further contrast, the European Union is monetarily sovereign. It cannot run short of euros.

Press Conference: Mario Draghi, former President of the European Central Bank, 9 January 2014
Question: “I am wondering: can the ECB ever run out of money?”
Mario Draghi: “Technically, no. We cannot run out of money.”

Since federal taxes do not fund federal spending, why does the federal government collect them? 

The purposes of U.S. federal taxes are.

1. To narrow the gap between the rich and the rest. An overly wide gap gives the rich too much power in any economy, so tax rates take income into consideration, with increased rates for increased income.

Unfortunately, this purpose is followed more in the breach than in reality, because the rich have managed to distort tax collections in their favor. One outstanding example is Donald Trump, who despite being a billionaire, did not pay any federal taxes at all in 8 of the past 10 years.

2. To control the economy by taxing what the government wishes to discourage and giving tax breaks to what the government wishes to discourage.

A partial example is the gasoline tax which to a very small degree discourages gasoline usage. “Sin” taxes on cigarettes and alcohol fall into this category.

And then there is the real purpose of federal taxes:

3. To make the unwary populace believe that federal deficit spending is harmful so, federal benefits must be limited or taxes must be increased.

This is the insidious Big Lie promulgated by the rich, to widen the Gap between them and the rest of the people.

It is the reason why you repeatedly are told that the Social Security “trust fund” pays SS benefits, and the Medicare “trust fund” pays Medicare benefits, and both are running short of money. Neither of the so-called “trust funds” are real trust funds. Neither pays benefits and neither can run short of money unless Congress and the President want them to run short.

As with all federal agencies, the federal government pays for everything by creating new dollars, ad hoc.

In perhaps overly simple terms, it works like this for Social Security:

  • An agency of the federal government creates instructions (check or wire) from thin air and sends these instructions to your bank
  • Your bank is instructed to increase the balance in your checking account.
  • When your bank obeys those instructions, dollars are created and added to the M1 money supply. 
  • Your bank then “clears” (gets approval) the instructions through the Federal Reserve, which also is an agency of the federal government.

Thus, the circle is completed with one agency of the federal government’s approving the dollar-creation instructions by another agency of the federal government.

That is why federal checks don’t bounce. The federal government approves its own instructions.

Compare that to an agency of a state or local government. It too sends instructions to banks, and the banks obey those instructions. But when the banks try to clear the instructions through the Federal Reserve, the instructions will bounce unless the state or local government’s accounts have sufficient reserves.

For state/local governments, there is no self-approval system of dollar payments.

Actual dollar creation is done by banks at the instruction of the federal government. Those green paper Federal Reserve Notes printed by the Treasury are not in themselves, dollars. They are bearer titles to dollars.

Just as a house title document is not a title — it’s just a piece of paper — until it refers to a specific house, a dollar bill is just a piece of paper until it refers to a specific dollar on the government’s balance sheets.

Dollars are like laws.  They have no physical existence. You can’t hear, feel, smell, taste, or see a law or a dollar.

Dollars are only numbers on balance sheets. The Treasury provides banks with Federal Reserve Notes which merely are titles to dollars.

Banks use Federal Reserve Notes (dollar bills) as a substitute for increasing numbers in accounts. People use Federal Reserve Notes as titles to dollars that exist only as numbers on federal balance sheets.

For example, if you were to use dollar bills to purchase a car, you would exchange your title to dollars for the title to the car. The car seller then would own the dollar titles, proving he owned the numbers on the government’s books, and you would own the car title proving you own the car.


Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty

Twitter: @rodgermitchell Search #monetarysovereignty
Facebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell



The most important problems in economics involve:

  1. Monetary Sovereignty describes money creation and destruction.
  2. Gap Psychology describes the common desire to distance oneself from those “below” in any socio-economic ranking, and to come nearer those “above.” The socio-economic distance is referred to as “The Gap.”

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics. Implementation of Monetary Sovereignty and The Ten Steps To Prosperity can grow the economy and narrow the Gaps: Ten Steps To Prosperity:

  1. Eliminate FICA
  2. Federally funded Medicare — parts A, B & D, plus long-term care — for everyone
  3. Social Security for all
  4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone
  5. Salary for attending school
  6. Eliminate federal taxes on business
  7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 
  8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.
  9. Federal ownership of all banks
  10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and the rest.


4 thoughts on “What are the purposes of the federal gas tax, FICA and federal income tax?

  1. Question: “I am wondering: can the ECB ever run out of money?”
    Mario Draghi: “Technically, no. We cannot run out of money.”
    Question: Technically, WHY not!


    1. The ECB is like the U.S. government. It is Monetarily Sovereign. The euro nations (Germany, France, et al are like the U.S. states. They are monetarily non-sovereign.

      The ECB is the issuer of the euro. The euro nations are the users of the euro.


  2. I agree with you on just about everything you said. It’s amazing how Biden was able to come up with billions out of thin air for Ukraine. And is still doing it! It’s like there’s no limit, because in actuality, there isn’t. And I’m still not the Trump supporter you accused me of. But for reasons not political. I’m an old geezer that likes to write my own name in on the ballot. But hey, I’m participating! Regards.


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