The gasoline excise tax is paid on each gallon of gas bought to support
highway construction and maintenance. People who buy more gas pay more
tax, but presumably they use the roads more and receive more benefits than
those who drive less.
The tax is fair according to benefits received, but not according to
ability to pay; low-income drivers pay the same tax as those with high
A property tax, levied on the value of a house or other property, usually
supports schools. Owners of valuable property pay more, even if they have
no children in schools and regardless of their incomes.
The tax is fair on the basis of ability to pay--wealth, but not on the
basis of ability to pay--income, and only partly on the basis of benefits
received (in general, all benefit from good schools).
The citizens of Hamalot Island had a lot more to consider than just
assessing fairness based on income.