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GPS-Based System For Driving Tax Being Field Tested

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Transportation 891

An anonymous reader writes "Apparently, since gas consumption is going down and fuel efficient cars are becoming more popular, the government is looking into a new form of taxation to create revenue for transportation projects. This new system is a 'by-the-mile tax,' requiring GPS in cars so it can track the mileage. Once a month, the data gets uploaded to a billing center and you are conveniently charged for how much you drove. 'A federal commission, after a two-year study, concluded earlier this year that the road tax was the "best path forward" to keep revenues flowing to highway and transportation projects, and could be an important new tool to help manage traffic and relieve congestion. ... The commission pegged 2020 as the year for the federal fuel tax, currently 18.5 cents a gallon, to be phased out and replaced by a road tax. One estimate of a road tax that would cover the current federal and state fuel taxes is 1 to 2 cents per mile for cars and light trucks.'"

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Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (4, Interesting)

ls671 (1122017) | about 5 years ago | (#28543071)

It seems to me like GPS provides other features than mileage tracking which the government could use.

If we are only concerned about tracking the mileage, there is already nice tool that does just this, couldn't it be used to also display how much it costs us in real time ? ;-))) []

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (5, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | about 5 years ago | (#28543123)

There's another really nice tool that has the advantage that EVERY car already has one:

Odometer []

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (5, Funny)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 5 years ago | (#28543147)

Think of the government lobbyists, you insensitive clod!

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (1)

oldhack (1037484) | about 5 years ago | (#28543515)

Can any politicos here shed some light onto who the clowns are on this federal commission?

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#28543209)

Neither address splitting of revenue between states for truckers or people living near state boarders.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (4, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | about 5 years ago | (#28543319)

Since it's a federal tax, it doesn't really matter where you drive from the point-of-view of collecting taxes. How you dole out that money for highway projects is a problem however.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (3, Insightful)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | about 5 years ago | (#28543577)

It does if the states decide to piggyback off the service as well, and you can rest assured that they'll want to. Since federal fuel taxes are dropping it means state fuel taxes are also declining for the exact same reasons. They'll likely want to use this system to tax drivers on their state roads, and to do that you need the accuracy & tracking that GPS provides.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (1)

allawalla (1030240) | about 5 years ago | (#28543259)

The nice thing about GPS is you wouldn't have to pay taxes for driving up and down your driveway...

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (2, Insightful)

mea37 (1201159) | about 5 years ago | (#28543261)

Your odometer can report how much of your mileage was on public roads? Cool!

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (4, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | about 5 years ago | (#28543359)

How much of your mileage isn't on public roads? For most people, I'd guess almost none (up and down the driveway doesn't account for much for my trip into work each day). So, tough shit. No system is going to be perfect.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (1)

Conibear (592077) | about 5 years ago | (#28543497)

Actually, I rack up a lot of mileage plowing driveways in the winter...

That's not a good replacement (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 5 years ago | (#28543331)

There's another really nice tool that has the advantage that EVERY car already has one: Odometer

So who gets the money from that?

Currently if I am driving in a state the state usually gets some percentage of the gas tax.

If you are just checking the odometer, my home state gets all the money even if I travel out of state often?

I don't like the GPS idea one bit, I'm just saying checking the odometer does not solve the problem.

Re:That's not a good replacement (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 5 years ago | (#28543495)

If you are just checking the odometer, my home state gets all the money even if I travel out of state often?

I don't like the GPS idea one bit, I'm just saying checking the odometer does not solve the problem.

Traffic counters at the border and a little math before distribution does, though. And waaaaaaaaay more cheaply.

Re:That's not a good replacement (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 5 years ago | (#28543561)

Replying to myself:

No, it doesn't. You fucking dumbass.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543237)

They're probably afraid of people "cheating" in systems like that. For example, just put 10% larger tires on your car and all of a sudden you're paying 10% less tax (or use higher/more gears in your transmission and/or differential).

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (1)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 5 years ago | (#28543441)

For example, just put 10% larger tires on your car and all of a sudden you're paying 10% less tax (or use higher/more gears in your transmission and/or differential).

It's 2 cents per mile. 50 cents per 100 miles. Assuming 15,000 miles per year. That's a $75 tax (plus the $1000 GPS unit, I'm sure, but that's neither here nor there). By switching to bigger tires ($100 minimum) you save $7.50 per year in taxes. And your tires will eventually wear out and need to be replaced at a higher cost than your smaller tires.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543267)

Why not tax fuel?
- consumption is proportional to milage!
- promotes fuel efficiency!
- collection is easy!
- big brother not included!


Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 5 years ago | (#28543341)

I mostly agree with you, but if I am playing devil's advocate, what about the plug-in hybrids?

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (4, Insightful)

bdenton42 (1313735) | about 5 years ago | (#28543545)

Right now we don't need anything to discourage moving toward electric / hybrid / high mileage vehicles. The environmental benefits and economic benefits of removing the need for foreign oil would far outweigh whatever revenue the government would receive.

Eventually they could probably come up with an electric metering system for plug-ins which would be far less intrusive than having a GPS watching you all the time.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28543381)

That's what some states have been doing. The problem though is that we've got a mix of cars from hybrids and electrics up to gas guzzlers. Mileage taxes are an effort to normalize that a bit. This wouldn't replace gas taxes in total, most likely they'd offset it a bit.

Re:Do we really need GPS to track mileage ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543447)

I fail to see the reasoning behind this at all. Either bump the taxes on fuel, which is not very social against poorer people who can not afford a new fuel efficient car, or just add some more to income tax. The rich, myself included, can contribute more that some less fortunate.
That way no one has to be under constant surveillance, and everyone is happy. /me ducks *

Great (5, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | about 5 years ago | (#28543141)

This is great, especially as there is no way to abuse this.

Re:Great (2)

SirLurksAlot (1169039) | about 5 years ago | (#28543347)

You're probably joking but I can think of a couple of inventive (and fun!) ways to abuse this. The first way to save yourself some money if this actually becomes a reality would be to simply remove the GPS device and leave it in your garage somewhere. Obviously it would have to still be functional for this to work, but I'm sure some hackerish type will figure that out.

The second (devious and more fun way) would be a great way to get revenge on someone. Remove their GPS device from their vehicle and attach it to a long-haul cross-country truck. "What do you mean I drove 50,000 miles this year!?"

Re:Great (1)

barzok (26681) | about 5 years ago | (#28543567)

They'll know if you remove the GPS device altogether. Instead, what you do is get a re-radiating antenna and program it to only show a 10% change in your position while you're moving. Have that override the signal the official device's antenna picks up.

You're instantly transformed from a road warrior to the little old lady who only drives to temple on Saturday, and the hacked antenna is easily removed for inspection time.

Re:Great (1)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | about 5 years ago | (#28543379)

Are you being ironic? Abuse is simple: raise the price to extortionate levels.

What's pathetic about this idea is how it could be circumvented, cheaply and easily.


wtf (1, Insightful)

WilyCoder (736280) | about 5 years ago | (#28543149)

what the fuck man

Re:wtf (1, Redundant)

Em Emalb (452530) | about 5 years ago | (#28543351)

I don't know why this was modded troll, it was the exact first thought I had too.

Seriously do we not have enough frigging taxes already?

They tax you when you're born (delivered). They tax you when you get your first job. They tax your gas, your groceries, your home, you car, your health, your retirement, etc.etc.

They tax your family when you die. They tax tax tax tax tax.

Fuck this. Seriously. Fuck this shit.

Better watch your speed... (2, Insightful)

Dr Egg (1451323) | about 5 years ago | (#28543157)

If we end up with GPS systems in every car by 2020, I'd be interested how quickly the systems are used to also track your speed whenever they want to know.

Re:Better watch your speed... (2, Informative)

TrippTDF (513419) | about 5 years ago | (#28543233)

A little piece of freedom just died.

Re:Better watch your speed... (1)

Threni (635302) | about 5 years ago | (#28543251)

You don't need to do that - you just install a nationwide series of cameras doing "average speed checks" as in the UK.

Then again, if you don't agree with speed limits, get them changed - don't just break them and hope you don't get caught.

Re:Better watch your speed... (5, Interesting)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | about 5 years ago | (#28543275)

Most people have an EZ-pass equivalent in their car. We also have license plate reading cameras. Ticketing virtually all speeders, at least on highways, is possible now. They will never, ever do this because if you ticket all speeders, no one will speed. They will lose millions of dollars in fines, on top of creating massive anger and traffic clogs that would result in the speed limit being raised to the speed people actually go anyway.

So it's much too good an idea and will never be done.

Re:Better watch your speed... (1)

plague3106 (71849) | about 5 years ago | (#28543387)

They will never, ever do this because if you ticket all speeders, no one will speed. They will lose millions of dollars in fines, on top of creating massive anger and traffic clogs that would result in the speed limit being raised to the speed people actually go anyway.

No, there'd be massive outrage, and they'd be caught sacrificing saftey for revenues.

faraday cage anyone? (1)

rotide (1015173) | about 5 years ago | (#28543163)

Just find where the receiver/transceiver is and pop on a Faraday Cage. []

Or, since the antenna would need to be somewhat exposed, just make a "sleeve" that blocks RF?

Just as a show of good faith, leave it off for trips to work and pop it on during long trips? Or just leave it on and claim you're a hermit?

Re:faraday cage anyone? (1)

TinBromide (921574) | about 5 years ago | (#28543287)

I was thinking of wrapping the antenna in tin foil and then grounding it to the car. That being said, I think I've just grown a fondness for "classic" (pre-gps) cars as long as gasoline is king.

Re:faraday cage anyone? (2, Insightful)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 years ago | (#28543365)

GPS can also be fairly easily jammed. In a number of areas (particularly with cheaper devices), it's very difficult to get reliable GPS signals, so blocking reception wouldn't be all that suspicious.

Tracking vs. billing (1)

ckaminski (82854) | about 5 years ago | (#28543165)

If they instead mandated a counter in the ECM that tracked mileage, I'd think maybe I was all for it. But they want GPS "tracking", and they're not even hiding the fact. If they want money for highway/construction projects, then just jack up the gas tax. Gas consumption is directly related to mileage driven.

Keep your fucking GPS trackers out of my life.

Re:Tracking vs. billing (1)

wjousts (1529427) | about 5 years ago | (#28543239)

Removing the tin-foil hat for a moment, there is one justification for tracking versus just recording raw mileage and that is variable taxes based on which roads you use. If you use already crowded city streets you pay x cents / mile. If you use uncrowded rural roads, you pay 0.1x cents / mile. If you use crowded highways at rush hour, you pay 1.5x cents, use them in the middle of the night, you pay 0.5x cents / mile.

Of course, putting the tin-foil hat back on, the potential for abuse is high enough that it ought to make anybody nervous.

Re:Tracking vs. billing (1)

Psyberian (240815) | about 5 years ago | (#28543345)

Gas consumption wouldn't work as more and more cars are getting better and better gas mileage. Let alone electric or alternative fuels which aren't taxed.

Re:Tracking vs. billing (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 years ago | (#28543493)

Gas consumption is related to mileage driven with a proportionality constant that's different from one car to the next: gas efficiency. High-efficiency cars do as much damage to roads as low-efficiency cars, yet can have as much as one sixth the gas consumption.

Re:Tracking vs. billing (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28543587)

So a medium size SUV does essentially no damage, compared to the essentially zero damage done by a Prius?

Sounds about right to me (But I live in a state where road damage is mostly caused by winter and trucking).

old/weird cars? (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 5 years ago | (#28543187)

So I guess they will have exemptions for older cars, cars that have value in original condition and adding/changing something will reduce value, etc.

For example - what would happen to the value of my all original '65 Porsche 356 if a hole was cut in the dash, another in the body for the antenna, etc? Not to mention running whatever they design off of a 44+ year old 6v electrical system...

Re:old/weird cars? (2, Insightful)

FutureDomain (1073116) | about 5 years ago | (#28543431)

So I guess they will have exemptions for older cars, cars that have value in original condition and adding/changing something will reduce value, etc.

They're politicians, they don't care a whit about you or your car. They care about getting reelected and getting more of your money to spend.

Re:old/weird cars? (2, Interesting)

operagost (62405) | about 5 years ago | (#28543463)

So I guess they will have exemptions for older cars, cars that have value in original condition and adding/changing something will reduce value, etc.

Not likely. These are the same fascists who are pushing through a bill that would require you to make your old home "green" before you could sell it.

Odometer (5, Interesting)

White Flame (1074973) | about 5 years ago | (#28543195)

They could just check the odometer during emissions checking.

Plus, if they go through with something like this, then they'd better eliminate the fuel taxes. (fat chance, I know)

Re:Odometer (4, Insightful)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | about 5 years ago | (#28543339)

They already do write down the mileage when you get the emissions checked. Not for the safety check I think. The info is in the DMV database. maybe the DMV database is so screwed up that the tax people do not want to touch it.

Re:Odometer (1)

barzok (26681) | about 5 years ago | (#28543485)

Or they're siloed that they refuse to share any data, and demand redundancy in the name of government inefficiency.

Re:Odometer (2, Interesting)

wjsteele (255130) | about 5 years ago | (#28543349)

Oh, I'd love it if they did it during "emmissions checking." I live in Indiana, where we don't such a "big brother" concept.


Re:Odometer (2, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | about 5 years ago | (#28543529)

They already do in many states so they could easily use this to track taxes. On cars built after 1992 they check your odometer against rollbacks. If the odometer has been rolled back, it is reported on your title. They just want to be able to track you in more detail, see when and where you are speeding (automatic speeding tickets), see where you were the night of the murder, which protests you attended, what church you belong to etc. etc.

Great Idea (4, Insightful)

bdenton42 (1313735) | about 5 years ago | (#28543213)

GPS would be infinitely useful for governments. In addition to tracking mileage they can automatically charge tolls and even issue speeding tickets.

Why not just continue to raise the fuel taxes to generate revenue? That would serve to continue to reduce fuel consumption which would be a good thing.

Reasonable! (0)

Gulthek (12570) | about 5 years ago | (#28543217)

1 to 2 cents per mile actually sounds quite reasonable and a good idea.

That's only $20 or $40 bucks for a 2000 mile trip.

It would serve as a dampening effect for the excessive driving we embrace in the states. Sure gas already costs, but the knowledge that each mile is ticking away money would, I think, be more directly noticeable.

Bonus points would be the funds from this going to transportation projects that provide good alternatives to driving: light rail, good bus network, etc. Then we'd be getting both incentive and alternative at once.

Re:Reasonable! (1)

GreenK (33311) | about 5 years ago | (#28543373)

It would be a big increase for me:

450 mile/week
30 mpg
$2.40 / g
$36.00 per fillup

$2.775 fed fuel tax
$4.50-$9 ($1 or $2 per mile)


62.2% - 224.32% increase

Leave the fuel tax and increase it if you have to.. it leaves the incentive for improving efficiency.

Re:Reasonable! (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about 5 years ago | (#28543477)

You're an idiot with no concept of freedom or the limitless bounds of government corruption.

-The system will be abused.
-The money won't go to what you hope it will.
-That would quadruple the transportation tax for many people (I pay $0.005/mile or so with current gas taxes).
-If I feel the need to drive "excessively" by your definition, what makes you think you have the right to impose a deterrent on me?

Regressive tax, will hurt the poor (2, Interesting)

Reziac (43301) | about 5 years ago | (#28543499)

Side effect: it becomes cheaper to drive a gas guzzler, and more expensive to drive an economy engine:

At current gas tax rates, that trip would cost my truck somewhere around $60 in existing gas taxes.

Existing gas tax would be about $10 in a fuel-efficient car.

Small fuel-efficient cars tend to be driven by lower-income people, who will therefore be hardest hit by this as their economy cars will pay a disproportionate amount of tax, based on per mile rather than per gallon.

So -- this is a regressive tax.

Re:Reasonable! (1)

operagost (62405) | about 5 years ago | (#28543505)

I don't care about the cost. The federal government doesn't have the right to decide where we go and how we do it.

Re:Reasonable! (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543509)

Yes, but for us commuters who do 320 miles/day that's $3.20 to $6.40 in federal road tax per day!
I already pay enough in federal fuel tax in the gas I buy per day.

Don't think for one minute that a state won't revise their fuel tax to be a percentage of the fuel tax or
a piggyback tax.

And, once all the state and federal fuel taxes are removed, don't think for one minute that the fuel price will come down
since the gas companies now can raise/keep the fuel price at what it is currently, and get additional profits.

Re:Reasonable! (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | about 5 years ago | (#28543531)

Sure. It'll start out "reasonable"...and in the end, it'll be another "based off how much you earn" bullshit tax. I'm guessing most middle class americans will end up in the 20%-30% range.

toll? (1)

COMON$ (806135) | about 5 years ago | (#28543219)

What ever happened to good ol toll roads? If you use the hwy it gets taken care of, if you dont, then by by.

Re:toll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543295)

hopefully they would stop charging $8 to go over a bridge that is rarely ever repaired. Then toll booth willy is going to cry about how he lost his job to a machine. But thankfully the government his increasing the available jobs

Yet another reason to install linux in your car (1)

iCantSpell (1162581) | about 5 years ago | (#28543221)

This idea is a complete joke. Who would seriously allow the government to be attatched to their car? Onstar probably already lets the NSA have what ever access they want.

Also how would anyone know what exactly is being sent? You would think tracking credit cards, cell phones, laptops, social sites, and digital television would be enough.

the government is ran by ninnies (2, Interesting)

OrangeTide (124937) | about 5 years ago | (#28543421)

We fight this kind of crap every year in California. People insist that hybrid cars are screwing us out of fuel taxes and are unfairly using the road. Well if it's so unfair maybe we should quit giving them a tax credit and put that money into the road budget instead. When everyone use hybrids we should raid the fuel tax to compensate. It's pretty simple, and doesn't require the government to contract an agency to build a $500 secured GPS unit to stick in every car.

Re:Yet another reason to install linux in your car (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543537)

Onstar=owned by GM

GM=owned by Obama

Onstar=Obama, QED

This is the change you voted for.

I, for one, embrace our benevolent despot.

GPS Jammer (4, Interesting)

bhsx (458600) | about 5 years ago | (#28543245)

Here I was just wondering what kind of a job I'd need to have in order to need one of these: [] $33 for a GPS blocker/jammer seems like it'd be a lot cheaper than paying tolls.

memo to feds, we have odometers (1)

wardk (3037) | about 5 years ago | (#28543265)

is there a clue stick big enough to enlighten the federal government?

Roads?? (1)

Slur (61510) | about 5 years ago | (#28543277)

Where we're going we don't need roads.

WTF? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 5 years ago | (#28543279)

Haven't these people ever heard of an odometer? The odometer even has the advantage to governments of taxing travel in OTHER states; an Illinois driver driving to Florida would pay his mileage tax AND gas taxes in the states he drove in.

With the hare brained GPS scheme, how is Mississippi going to tax the tourist from Oregon? It's not like the states' highway tax databases are all tied together. Without gas taxes, only people with license plates from Missouri pay for Missouri's roads, no matter how much a driver from Kansas uses them.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543415)

The solution is that it is simply Govt run. Then the states will have to "apply" for their share of the tax money. Oh, state isn't toeing the line? No road tax awarded.

Re:WTF? (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 5 years ago | (#28543449)

The opposite of what you said is true actually. GPS can tell you how much you travelled, and where you travelled. An odometer only tells you how much you travelled. Unless you want to have toll booths all over the place with people popping their heads in your car to check you mileage as you leave each state, GPS is the way to go.

Obviously, a GPS based system is open to abuse though. They might very quickly find out that they can find out if you have been speeding, among other things.

At first I cringed. (1)

Hoyty1 (1502645) | about 5 years ago | (#28543285)

When I saw 1 cent per mile I cringed but then like the reasonable person I am I pulled out my trusty calculator. I own a 2007 Civic Sedan. Let's low ball and say 30ish miles to the gallon when I combine my city/highway driving. For ease of conversion I pay 30/18.5 = 1.62 cents per mile right now. Someone double check my math since I am notoriously bad at arithmetic. So 1 cent/mile would save me a decent amount of money, while 2 cents would raise my current cost. Of course who knows what the value of a penny will be and the current gas tax in 2020.

Re:At first I cringed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543471)

LOLCAT Sez: Maths. Yr doin it wrong.

Sounds familiar. (1)

scld (995026) | about 5 years ago | (#28543291)

And here I thought the UK was going to win the race to 1984.

What about Oklahoma? (4, Funny)

AioKits (1235070) | about 5 years ago | (#28543297)

We don't do shit to repair the roads as it is! If this was put into place we'd find a way to further screw over our highways. Some of these potholes are big enough the only way we get them filled is to hold a funeral in one.

Roads/infrastructure need to be paid for (1)

foodnugget (663749) | about 5 years ago | (#28543301)

I actually don't have much of a problem with pay-as-you-go roads. The roads have to be taken care of, new bridges buit, etc. I DO have a problem with the gov't potentially keeping track of where I go! How about we track based on odometer readings? Perhaps when your car goes in for inspection every year, the odometer data is sent to the DMV, which charges you along with your yearly registration? The roads have to be paid for, and it seems reasonable that the people who use them the most should pay the most. The only problem with this might arise from people choosing to drive less because of *this*, and then, where will the money come from?

What's wrong with the gas tax? (1)

saterdaies (842986) | about 5 years ago | (#28543303)

With the government pushing through cap and trade, why would we replace the gas tax? The gas tax both taxes people based on distance driven and pollution generated. Now, if cars become more efficient, we might need to raise it, but from where I'm sitting it offers a nice incentive for people to drive more fuel efficient vehicles and pays for the roads.

GPS Popping Good Time (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about 5 years ago | (#28543307)

Mix one part electrode on the antenna with one part on the ground body. Add liberal amounts of high voltage at low current. Enjoy your GPS-free vehicle.

Or... (2, Insightful)

tirerim (1108567) | about 5 years ago | (#28543309)

They could just tax gasoline more. You know, the driving-related thing that they already tax. That has the side benefit of helping to cut down on pollution more than a flat per-mile tax, too.

Re:Or... (1)

notseamus (1295248) | about 5 years ago | (#28543585)

Indeed. Surely the rise of fuel efficient cars is a success and shouldn't be punished by raising taxes anyway? And if consumption is going down shouldn't the cost and frequency of repair fall also?

Maybe I'll start a pool ... (1)

richg74 (650636) | about 5 years ago | (#28543317)

Is anyone else interested in making bets on how long a system like this will take to be hacked? But then, it will be OK -- the politicians can crow about how much they've reduced carbon emissions, as "proved" by the large decrease in miles driven!

Hidden doubling (or more) of taxes (4, Insightful)

jnaujok (804613) | about 5 years ago | (#28543333)

See, the people will revolt if we suddenly double or triple the gas tax, which is 18.5 cents a gallon.

But, since we're going to mandate that all cars get 35 miles per gallon, and then we charge 1 to 2 cents (and it'll be two cents, if not four by the time it gets passed), then that means we've effectively upped the gas tax to between 35 and 70 cents a gallon (or $1.40 by four cents a mile). And the great part is that, just like income tax, they won't see the per gallon increase, they just get a bill at the end of the month that they have to pay.

Way to double, triple, or more the gas tax without looking like it.

Also, by the law of unintended consequences, by removing the tax from the gas, it makes it more cost effective to buy an older, cheaper gas guzzler, than a new, expensive, hybrid car. Thanks for destroying the environment, morons.

Bad idea (3, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | about 5 years ago | (#28543335)

We are coming up with all sorts of expensive plans to try to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the consumption of foreign oil, so why are we also trying to come up with a way to reduce the incentive to get a more fuel efficient car? Instead we should be massively increasing the tax on gasoline and possibly offering a flat rebate to counteract the regressive nature of use based taxes. That way tax revenue would keep up with decreasing demand and we would actually be naturally moving the market towards our long term goals.

Fraud (1)

RandomU (1185807) | about 5 years ago | (#28543355)

Why use this as opposed to simply using the cars odometer? The govenrment better not say fraud (Setting the Odometer back, or disconecting the cable). After all how easy will it be to disconect, or better still shield or jam the attena so the signal doesn't reach the GPS unit. Simply claim you parked your car in a place where the signal couldn't reach.

I work at home... (1)

Stele (9443) | about 5 years ago | (#28543357)

So I wonder how they are planning on taxing ME even more. A Federal Internet tax maybe? How about a "work-at-home" tax for income-earners who do not commute?

Positive Change (2, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | about 5 years ago | (#28543395)

Yes we can!

Re:Positive Change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543553)

And we will!

And this encourages conservation how??? (3, Insightful)

DRBivens (148931) | about 5 years ago | (#28543423)

Like it or not, a direct result of higher fuel prices is a drop is demand. Regardless of your views on oil production/drilling/exploration, it seems like it would be in everyone's best interest to use less fuel.

There was once--many years ago--talk of taxing motor fuel to reduce consumption. While I never personally agreed with the proposal, the idea of removing taxes from gasoline (which would make it appear cheaper to consumers) seems like a step in the wrong direction.

I wonder who is advising the "federal commission" on the options available to them? Why on earth would they decide a massive new taxation infrastructure was the "best path forward" unless they were being advised by someone who would benefit in some way from the massive purchase of new GPS tracking equipment?

Call me a curmudgeon, but I'd really like to know...

Seriously Bad Idea (5, Interesting)

rally2xs (1093023) | about 5 years ago | (#28543425)

I work for the DoD. There are those of us that work on "black" projects that have covert everything, including travel. It would be absolutely intolerable to have a record of where a car has been, either personal or rental, for an enemy agent to exploit. If there's a meeting of folks hammering out the requirements for a new fighter jet or littoral cruiser, who goes to the meeting, where the meeting was, what time the meeting was, etc. are all way too valuable to be recorded.

No, this idea is a non-starter for National security reasons. We won't even talk about organized crime getting ahold of it in order to track likely kidnap candidates' usual movements.

GPS Simulator (1)

kpainter (901021) | about 5 years ago | (#28543435)

I would be putting together a GPS simulator system that would overload the real GPS signal. This simulated signal would indicate that I never drive anywhere. If you could access the antenna, you could pipe this signal in directly enabling other GPS based systems to still function. I am sure that any engine running indicator signal could be spoofed as well. :)

$47 a week to drive (1)

quall (1441799) | about 5 years ago | (#28543439)

1 cent a mile would cost me about $2.50 a week just to drive to work. That is $0.50 more than the 18cent tax. In 10 years though, that may not seem like much more. Parking is then $15 a week and at $2.60 a gallon, I would be spending $30 a week on gas. So, it would cost me $47 a week just to go to work and back. With a rising cost in parking and now more to just drive, all this means is that I will drive even less by moving closer to work or simply working from home (network infrastructure is set up for this, but it is not preferred.) Maybe I will take a bus (OMG!) I would like to know where on my motorcycle they are going to put the GPS. I already power my own and a few other trinkets, I hope they plan on supplying batteries lol.

Needs another implementation... (1)

danking (1201931) | about 5 years ago | (#28543453)

I like the idea of a distance based tax instead of the amount of gasoline consumed. Since roadways are a major, major source of infrastructure dollars and the majority of those roads and only used by drivers. It is just the idea of having a government controlled GPS device scares me and they should think of a different implementation other than using the GPS device.

Finally (4, Insightful)

buddhaunderthetree (318870) | about 5 years ago | (#28543455)

Something that might get more Americans to ride bicycles.

Do the simple thing (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | about 5 years ago | (#28543469)

That's idiotic.

Just put a tax on gasoline. Cars that use more fossil fuel and polute more will pay more. Simple.

At the moment, federal gas taxes don't even pay for the highway subsidies, much less paying for oil infrastructure and other things-- income taxes are subsidizing our roads.

Who gets exemptions from this? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543475)

I can see the way this would go down now. Once implemented, it will only be a matter of time before someone either hacks into and steals the tracking info, or a dishonest/underpaid "billing center" employee takes it and sells it to the highest bidder.

Because of this, we'd end up with all sorts of exceptions for the elite-class (law enforcement, celebs, politicians, etc.) After all, it's ok for the .gov and some random gov contractor to know where YOU are and going at all times, but your congressman? What if someone finds out his driving patterns and assasinates him (or better yet discovers his indiscretions?)

As if... (1)

TaleSpinner (96034) | about 5 years ago | (#28543479)

...the gov't ever got rid of a tax that was "replaced" by another.

Continuous tracking of all motor vehicles, and thereby of most citizens. Oh, well, they do that already with cell phones. It won't be abused. Sssuuurrreee it won't.

"The Chevy volt won't pay a penny of fuel tax..." - not on gasoline, but it does pay the same tax we all pay on electricity. It will also pay the VAT when, not if, that is imposed by the Obamacists. It was supposed to be freer of taxes in order to encourage transitioning to "less polluting" (again, AS IF) technology.

Can the gov't even spell "cross-purposes"?

Good! GPS will die in a few years anyway (1)

Iffie (1410897) | about 5 years ago | (#28543487)

Just wanted to share that with you guys.. Check out climatebabes!

Well lets add this one to the list eh? (1)

zerointeger (1587877) | about 5 years ago | (#28543511)

Accounts Receivable Tax
Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fue l Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

Tax me driving (NEW!!!)
Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago... and our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

Put it on snowmobiles (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28543513)

Put GPS on snowmobiles and send me a check when they trespass.

Fair or regressive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543517)

There are a load of problems with this proposal:

1. There's already a device for tracking mileage in cars: it's called an odometer
2. GPS is good, but not immune to spoofing or erroneous readings
3. No way do I want the government to have access to tracking information or automatic uploading of data from such a system
4. Eliminate the gas tax?? Way to go: you've just eliminated one of the added incentives for reducing gas consumption!!!

I don't *want* a mile driven by someone in a big, honking SUV to cost the same in taxes/tolls as a fuel efficient car, especially because less efficient cars tend to be heavier and cause more wear on the roads anyway.

Obvious problem (1)

nasor (690345) | about 5 years ago | (#28543519)

The obvious problem is that there are a LOT of places where people drive where you can't get good GPS signals (it's often impossible to pick up GPS signals in downtown areas with skyscrapers all around, for example). Do their plans include a way to magically make GPS receivers pick up signals where they currently can't?

Also, what's to stop me from simply covering my GPS in grounded foil or something?

Costs should be dropping with revenues (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 5 years ago | (#28543523)

First, Big Brother, privacy, tracking, etc. I agree that it's horrible for all those reasons.

Second, it's a load of crap. Fuel consumption is roughly inversely proportional to weight, so on average, less fuel consumption means lighter vehicles. Lighter vehicles means far less road damage. I've heard (but not verified) that damage is proportional to weight to the 4th power, so if one vehicle weighs 20% less than another, it'll cause about 40% of the damage. That makes at least intuitive sense, as at some point damage drops off to effectively zero. How many bike riders would it take to destroy a highway as much as a single semi truck?

Isn't that a good thing? Except for new road building and repairs due to weather, I'd think that maintenance would drop dramatically as vehicles get lighter, and would in fact drop faster than the revenue from fuel tax.

BTW, remember yesterday's story about Amazon cutting off affiliates in Rhode Island, and people claiming that the fuel taxes paid by UPS and FedEx weren't used for road maintenance? Yeah.

tax overhead (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28543525)

if everyone drove electric cars the gov't wouldn't get any money from a gas tax...
so they plan on taxing you by how much you drive.
collecting this tax is going to be expensive however.
putting a gps in every car and monitoring it isn't going to be cheap.

Just awful (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 5 years ago | (#28543583)

This concept stinks like crude oil. Probably because it's heavily supported by the oil industry.

A 'miles driven' tax is exactly the kind of problem that allows people to completely externalize a lot of the public the cost of their fuel-inefficient vehicles (pollution, dependence on foreign oil, etc). We need to force people to pay those costs, in order to provide a disincentive to buying inefficient vehicles.

If we're going to switch to a miles-driven tax instead of a gas tax, then let's put a surchage tax on the purchase of inefficient vehicles. Let's make it $100 per rated mpg under 50.

Here's the math:

Say a pickup truck gets 20 mpg (generous), and will be driven for only 100,000 miles over its life. That's 5,000 gallons of fuel -- at federal excise rate of 18.4 cents/gal, that's $920 in gas taxes over the life of the vehicle.

Now look at a truck that gets 15 mpg. Fuel taxes over the life of the vehicle are $1380 (again, assuming only 100k miles driven).

A miles-driven tax, where both trucks pay the same amount, completely removes a big incentive to purchasing a fuel-efficient vehicle. And given that the low mpg rating is typical of heavier vehicles that cause more road wear-and-tear, it's only fair that they pay higher taxes.
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