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US Contemplating 'Vehicle Miles Traveled' Tax

Soulskill posted about 3 years ago | from the take-that-california dept.

Transportation 1306

dawgs72 writes "This week the Congressional Budget Office released a report saying that taxing people based on how many miles they drive is a possible option for raising new revenues, and that these taxes could be used to offset the costs of highway maintenance. The proposed tax would be enforced through the use of electronic metering devices installed on all vehicles. The mileage tax is being considered instead of an increase in the gas tax in order to tax hybrids, EVs, and conventional automobiles equally."

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Sounds like a headache (4, Insightful)

rwa2 (4391) | about 3 years ago | (#35613048)

So, um, how are they going to split that between county, state, and federally-funded roads?

Infrastructure is infrastructure. Everyone benefits from having it. Putting this kind of administrative overhead on it just makes it more expensive *and* takes away the benefit.

I think the real problem is that people mostly can't afford to live close to where they work. This leads to a lot of inefficiency, as they waste lots of time and energy driving back and forth from their cheap suburbs to the higher rent districts that pay just barely enough to survive if you live a neighborhood a tier or two away. Relatively cheap transportation sorta creates this situation, but there has got to be better ways to solve this than by making transportation more expensive with all of this metering equipment.

Make cities denser, cheaper, more accessible to families with better schools & playgrounds, etc. Get rid of suburban sprawl by zoning more parks and greenways. Maybe build some summer cottages / timeshares so people can still get away "to the country". Done! All the other countries are doing it :-P

Re:Sounds like a headache (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#35613100)

Make cities denser, cheaper, more accessible to families with better schools & playgrounds, etc.

You can't. It's a size issue. this idea of everyone living in a city is absurd.

Re:Sounds like a headache (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613390)

Make cities denser, cheaper, more accessible to families with better schools & playgrounds, etc.

You can't. It's a size issue. this idea of everyone living in a city is absurd.

It's not absurd, it's HK. Ok, it is absurd (and I have no idea how anyone can honestly promote the idea), but it's not without precedent.

Re:Sounds like a headache (1)

stms (1132653) | about 3 years ago | (#35613118)

All the other countries are doing it :-P

If all the other countries were jumping off of bridges would you do it?

Re:Sounds like a headache (1)

LocalH (28506) | about 3 years ago | (#35613250)

If countries are jumping off bridges then I've gotta see that, must be one hell of a bridge.

Re:Sounds like a headache (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 3 years ago | (#35613296)

All the other countries are doing it :-P

If all the other countries were jumping off of bridges would you do it?

Six billion flies eat shit, will you too?

Re:Sounds like a headache (0)

rwa2 (4391) | about 3 years ago | (#35613350)

If all the other countries were jumping off of bridges would you do it?

Is it one of those under-maintained bridges in Minnesota ? ^_^

Double dipping? (5, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | about 3 years ago | (#35613052)

Isn't this already covered by the gas tax, which is inherently incurred on a "per mile" (gallon, really) basis?

Anything that can be taxed, will. Those things which can not be taxed will be fined.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613068)

From the summary:

"The mileage tax is being considered instead of an increase in the gas tax in order to tax hybrids, EVs, and conventional automobiles equally."

Re:Double dipping? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613124)

"Instead of an increase." This tells me that gas tax will remain.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 years ago | (#35613356)

Taxes never go away.
(unless you're wealthy enough to hire clever accountants to avoid paying them, in which case, you're not paying them in the first place).

Re:Double dipping? (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | about 3 years ago | (#35613372)

As it should. Gasoline can be taxed as a non-renewable energy source, rather than as a proxy for road usage like it is now.


Re:Double dipping? (5, Insightful)

leehwtsohg (618675) | about 3 years ago | (#35613128)

Yes, basically it is a way to additionally tax fuel efficient vehicles. Something like an anti-fuel-efficiency tax.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

Beau6183 (899597) | about 3 years ago | (#35613216)

I already pay this when I pay my vehicle taxes yearly. It's called a gas-guzzler tax. So now they're wanting to triple dip. Gas + Guzzler + Mileage? Crikey....

Re:Double dipping? (3, Insightful)

tophermeyer (1573841) | about 3 years ago | (#35613232)

Another way to look at it is it will tax the vehicles that use the public roadways, not just the vehicles that consume gas.

The gas taxes would remain though. So don't worry, fuel efficient cars will still enjoy a tax benefit..

Re:Double dipping? (4, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | about 3 years ago | (#35613134)

It's still double dipping. They're considering it instead of an increase in the current gas tax.

If they eliminated the gas tax and replaced it with this, their stated reason would be an acceptable one.

Re:Double dipping? (4, Interesting)

PyroMosh (287149) | about 3 years ago | (#35613294)

I'm not saying it's a good thing to do, but the logic is sound.

If you look at gas tax as a sort of sin tax to pay for the environmental damage you are causing, it's a perfectly reasonable tax because a Matrix "costs" more to the environment than a Prius does.

But that's not the limit to their cost. A Matrix may cost more to the environment than a Prius, but they're a similar size and weight, and so their "cost" to the roads they travel on is very similar.

So you charge for both. In this way, it makes sense to have two separate taxes rather than just raising the existing tax.

I think it's premature, though. Right now, we should be taxing gas more to encourage it's abandonment. Only after there is an overwhelming majority of hybrid and/or electric vehicles on the road should we be considering something like this, because once you're not using gas any more, you still need to fund roads...

Re:Double dipping? (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 3 years ago | (#35613408)

Lawn mowers, tractors, forklifts, parking lot shuttle vehicles, snowmobiles and quad-runners, motorboats, etc all use gas but do not contribute to road use. Taxing mileage and gas are two separate things. It's not double dipping.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

CoJoNEs (73698) | about 3 years ago | (#35613142)

so we keep the gas tax but still have a new tax based on mileage, yes that's double dipping. Except for the very few vehicles that don't use gas/diesel.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | about 3 years ago | (#35613224)

Yeah! The reason I bought a car that gets 40 mpg instead of an SUV was to evade taxes!

Or so the assumption seems to be, when really I just don't want to pay a ton for gas or fill up more than every 6 hours of highway driving, and I prefer to drive a smaller and lighter car because it is more fun than driving a truck.

Roads are a fundamental necessity to our national infrastructure, and as such should be payed for with general taxes, not exclusively an excise tax on oil and its derivatives.

The miles my car puts on the roads in a year (even as a high mileage, long distance driver) is negligible when compared to the shipping industry's impact, so putting the burden on individual cars instead of the populace as a whole makes little sense to me. Also, any police car will drive and order of magnitude more miles with a range limited to a very small area (comparatively) - are we going to tax the police departments and then fund them more with taxes to cover that cost?

Re:Double dipping? (2)

rwa2 (4391) | about 3 years ago | (#35613314)

From the summary:
"The mileage tax is being considered instead of an increase in the gas tax in order to tax hybrids, EVs, and conventional automobiles equally."

Yeah, that part doesn't make so much sense... the heavy vehicles are the ones that create most of the wear and tear on the infrastructure. You could probably have a thousand passenger cars drive by and still not cause as much strain as a single loaded 18-wheeler :-P

Re:Double dipping? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#35613152)

I think it's more like:

"Any twit will uses this an excuse to spread lies about taxing instead of reading the fucking article."

Re:Double dipping? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613190)

Anything that can be taxed, will.

unless you're a big corporation that is ...

Re:Double dipping? (2, Insightful)

Phleg (523632) | about 3 years ago | (#35613258)

Gas taxes pay for a frighteningly small percentage of the cost of roads. The lion's share is usually from property taxes.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 3 years ago | (#35613272)

I didn't see anything about REPLACING the gas tax with a mileage tax. Just adding this on in addition to the gas tax. So those who drive gas or diesel powered cars looks like they'd be double taxed. Which is probably a hidden goal of this tax, to nudge people to buy hybrids or EV's.

But the fact is, cars today are getting better gas mileage ergo people are buying less gallons of gas per mile traveled so in somebody's mind this means less revenue for highway maintenance since EV's aren't taxed at all and hybrids use even less fuel.

They say this, but may DOT's waste a lot of funds. As an example, yesterday they were repainting lines on the interstate. It took the paint truck plus THREE dump trucks behind it to signal people to get over. Why does it take three? Why does it take large dump trucks (and pretty new ones at that)? Those things guzzle diesel. Couldn't the same purpose be served by a pickup truck with an arrow sign and flashing lights following the paint truck?

It's when I see stuff like that and the DOT asking for more money that I have to say they need to look at how they do operations and see how much they can save first instead just asking for more money.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

sammy baby (14909) | about 3 years ago | (#35613288)

RTA. The CBO report was requested by Senator Kent Conrad, who specifically addressed the fact that the migration of drivers to more fuel-efficient vehicles may impact the government's revenue stream from the gas tax.

Re:Double dipping? (1)

maxume (22995) | about 3 years ago | (#35613304)

Why is it double dipping?

I mean, the other way to phrase it is a restructuring of the tax to account for changes in vehicle design (perhaps with some hand waving about it also being an increase).

I don't think it is likely to be particularly effective and am sympathetic to the idea that maybe not everything needs to be taxed, but your "double dipping" is at least as jingoistic as my phrasing is mealy-mouthed politics speak.

Re:Double dipping? (2)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 3 years ago | (#35613332)

With the current taxation system, the more heavily polluting and inefficient vehicles are taxed more, creating an incentive to buy 'greener'. Trouble is, the only people who can afford new cars (ergo more efficient), are the wealthy. The people who are least likely to be able to afford more efficient vehicles are the poor, who are by definition the ones who need it the most.

Why tax Hybrids and Guzzlers equally? (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about 3 years ago | (#35613070)

Shouldn't we be encouraging people to use less gas? An excise tax on gasoline is an excellent way to do so.

Re:Why tax Hybrids and Guzzlers equally? (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#35613130)

Becasue ti's about road repair. and guzzlers will still pay extra in tax in that they still need gas.

Re:Why tax Hybrids and Guzzlers equally? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35613234)

My main complaint about this is that it's too soon. At this point the number of electric vehicles and others that use a small enough amount of gas to be problematic are just not common enough to worry about. And given the amount of money we're spending to encourage it, this is counterproductive.

However, when they make up a bigger portion of the market or we no longer need to subsidize the sale, then would be the time to start making adjustments like this.

Re:Why tax Hybrids and Guzzlers equally? (1)

welcher (850511) | about 3 years ago | (#35613326)

It has little to do with road repair -- damage to roads is primarily done by heavy vehicles. A small car does virtually no damage to a well-made road.

Why federal, again? (5, Interesting)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 3 years ago | (#35613074)

I ask this quesiton sincerely-- I honestly would like an answer from those who agree with this.

If I lived in Arkansas, and I only drive on local roads in state, and I do 3-4000 miles a year doing so,... why would this be justified by either Constitution or 10th amendment? I dont mean to troll or attack, but I cannot conceive of why this should be federally managed. I am not against seatbelt laws or think that all regulation or social programs are evil, but honestly, shouldnt there be a limit to what the Fed deals with?

Re:Why federal, again? (5, Insightful)

Batmunk2000 (1878016) | about 3 years ago | (#35613138)

Constitution? We still have one of those?

Re:Why federal, again? (2)

slick7 (1703596) | about 3 years ago | (#35613370)

Constitution? We still have one of those?

We need a tax on these congressional meatheads and their inane laws that line their pockets, about 30 to 50 years would be appropriate.

Re:Why federal, again? (3, Insightful)

smelch (1988698) | about 3 years ago | (#35613228)

Federally managed because the federal government is what people want. Largely, the United States seems to want a large, powerful, federal government and not respect the different cultures of different states. This is why the popular vote fiasco with President Bush was so easy for people to harp on. They no longer recognize or respect the separation of states. Further, the Federal Government uses taxes it levies on people to redistribute to state governments specifically for that kind of infrastructure. In a way, even state roads are paid for with Federal money.

Re:Why federal, again? (2)

geekoid (135745) | about 3 years ago | (#35613246)

"shouldnt there be a limit to what the Fed deals with?"
of course, but tlak to your state. They do NOT have to take the funds the Feds offer.

People like to blame the feds, but it's the states they give power to the feds.

To answer you immediate question:
Even if you do not use interstate or roads maintain or built with fed money (you do) , you still benefit from the systems. You get stuff delivered to you with those roads, companies can operate because of those roads, transportation is more efficient with those roads and so on. They wouldn't have even been able to build the infrastructures that became the internet.

Federal roads are a cornerstone to pretty much everything that happens.

Re:Why federal, again? (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | about 3 years ago | (#35613270)

If I lived in Arkansas, and I only drive on local roads in state, and I do 3-4000 miles a year doing so,... why would this be justified by either Constitution or 10th amendment? I dont mean to troll or attack, but I cannot conceive of why this should be federally managed. I am not against seatbelt laws or think that all regulation or social programs are evil, but honestly, shouldnt there be a limit to what the Fed deals with?

Commerce clause. Even though you only drive in state, that road connects to another road, which connects to a highway, which crosses in to another state. So now all driving falls under interstate commerce.

Doesn't make any more sense than the federal government deciding what plants you can grow on your own property, even if there will be no commerce of the plant, interstate or otherwise.

Yes, it absolutely, objectively, undeniably, and directly goes 100% against the Constitution. It is also the reality of the US of A.

Re:Why federal, again? (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35613280)

Arkansas presumably takes federal funds for the portions of interstate and some of the highways that are located there. Hence how the federal government can do it. Now, if there's a state which doesn't receive any funds for transportation from the federal government, then we can worry about this sort of hypothetical, but as long as the federal government has infrastructure in a given state, it has to be paid for in some fashion.

Re:Why federal, again? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 3 years ago | (#35613320)

I cannot conceive of why this should be federally managed.

The same way the federal speed limit is enforced within states...by the states themselves because they want stuff from the feds. I'm sure many/some of those state roads were built or are maintained with federal funding of some sort or some other form of federal support to the state will be linked to state enforcement of the federal rule.

Re:Why federal, again? (2)

ILMTitan (1345975) | about 3 years ago | (#35613336)

Section 8 - Powers of Congress
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the ...

That seems to cover this

Re:Why federal, again? (1)

c_jonescc (528041) | about 3 years ago | (#35613346)

Because our national highway infrastructure has nothing to do with how much or where *you* drive.

Maybe all of Arkansas only uses/buys products that were grown, developed, and manufactured within the state, and in that case it's possible you'd have a legitimate argument. However, the moment you buy anything that's been shipped over land, such as a non-local piece of produce or a book from Amazon, or even gasoline that wasn't from a local well, you're using the national infrastructure that all the contiguous states rely on, more or less equally.

That said, I use this same argument to find taxing individual miles driven absurd, as the majority use and damage of the roads is from trucking/shipping.

Re:Why federal, again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613362)

I ask this quesiton sincerely-- I honestly would like an answer from those who agree with this. If I lived in Arkansas, and I only drive on local roads in state, and I do 3-4000 miles a year doing so,... why would this be justified by either Constitution or 10th amendment?

If you're stupid enough to ask Slashdotters for their legal opinion, you deserve any answer you get.

So here's my legal opinion... I fully and 100% agree with the CBO report that says this is technologically possible. Note that the the CBO made absolutely no policy recommendations, they simply prepared a feasibility report, and I agree that the technology is feasible. The CBO is fully justified in writing feasibility reports to advise Congress on the potential costs and benefits of any proposals, while avoiding making policy recommendations. The roads that you drive on have no bearing on the rights or duties of the CBO.

(But I'm happy that you live in the richest country on earth and can afford to own a car just to drive 10 or 15 miles a day. You truly live in a nation of fabulous opulence, and can afford almost any indulgence. Last year, I heard many times from your wise and esteemed politicians that America was broke, but I am happy to learn that your economy has fully recovered.)

No Inscentive to be more efficient with this... (3, Insightful)

bratloaf (1287954) | about 3 years ago | (#35613110)

OK, so let me get this straight. They want to create a GIANT system with many layers of government, to take more money based on actual miles driven. But we already have that - called a gasoline tax. At least with the gas tax I have an incentive to buy a more fuel-efficient car if I must commute (I must, far too). With this I would have much less. I think this is just to avoid being the "bad guys" that raise the gas tax. I thought one of the points of the gas taxes was to encourage efficiency.

Re:No Inscentive to be more efficient with this... (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35613322)

The issue is that as super efficient vehicles and ones that use no gas at all become more popular, the wear and tear on the infrastructure doesn't magically disappear. Consequently, somebody has to pay tax to maintain the infrastructure.

The big problem with this is that it's too soon. We're no where near the point where the gas tax is high enough or the demand for electrics is great enough to justify such a move.

privatize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613112)

Privatize the roads and make the tollways. No need to have big brother watching our every move.

Re:privatize (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613392)

Privatizing the roads and making them tollways is a good idea eh? Manning the tollways means building shacks for them, and staffing them. It's going to create a heck of a lot more expense than just increasing the tax on gas a few more cents.

A nice Republican idea. Increases the price on citizens, while only someone already rich would be rich enough to afford to start up the biz in the first place. The rich get richer.

Oh good - another industry "created" (4, Interesting)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about 3 years ago | (#35613122)

See that? The government will create a new market [wikipedia.org] by mandating the use of electronic metering devices, AND bring in more tax revenue!


Re:Oh good - another industry "created" (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#35613194)

Indeed, I don't really have any problem with the Tax as much as I do with the meter. Just make it self reported on your taxes (just like almost everything is is actually self reported on your taxes) and if someone get's audited make it one of the things they check. When people realize that lying is equivalent to tax fraud, with all the penalties and fines associated, I don't think too many people are going to try and cheat (at least, no more than cheat on their taxes in other ways).

All this effort, just to avoid the real problem... (5, Insightful)

wierd_w (1375923) | about 3 years ago | (#35613126)

That being, that they (State and federal governments) are spending too much money already.

How about they do something a little more useful, like impose a moratorium on new expenditures until the economic crisis is over?

Oh dear-- I just imagined government workers being cautious with other people's money! How silly of me!

Re:All this effort, just to avoid the real problem (3)

etymxris (121288) | about 3 years ago | (#35613310)

Taxes have been cut multiple times since the early 80s, while spending has increased. I'm all for cutting taxes, AFTER we get our spending under control. The govt should only be able to cut taxes if receipts > expenses AND there is no current deficit. It'll be a long time before our budgets are balanced unless we lay off the entire military or let poor people start dying in the streets. Had we been a little more responsible over the past 30 years none of this would have been an issue.

Re:All this effort, just to avoid the real problem (2)

Antisyzygy (1495469) | about 3 years ago | (#35613402)

Had they not cut taxes on the rich since Reagan this would not be a problem. Rich people don't like to use their own money to pay for their governing the rest of us.

Re:All this effort, just to avoid the real problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613354)

Most of the money spent by the government is from mandatory spending. The part where government gets to decide what to do with the money (discretionary spending) is 19% of the total budget. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Federal_Spending_-_FY_2007.png

So let's imagine that you somehow convince the federal government to cut all discretionary spending. Great job! But our mandatory spending continues to rise... in the next years (depending on who you ask), our mandatory spending will be greater than 100%.

How do you cut mandatory spending? Well, break our promises, basically. Don't pay out social security. Don't provide medicare. "But the gov't promised!" Oh well. NOW imagine the consequences.

Re:All this effort, just to avoid the real problem (1)

gilbert644 (1515625) | about 3 years ago | (#35613366)

Good idea, our shitty health care system and insane military spending is bankrupting us. Solution: Lets stop maintaining our roads.

Re:All this effort, just to avoid the real problem (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 3 years ago | (#35613378)

Let me start by saying, flat out, that I'm not trying to troll or start a war here, but what exactly would you have them cut?

It's a fact that most fiscal conservatives, when asked what they would have the government cut can't name a single program to cut that is both A) large enough to have an impact, and B) not political suicide to cut. Would you take benefits away from people on a fixed income, who were promised and rely on that income and those benefits to make it through the month? Would you cut spending on military and defense? Would you tell young people that Social Security won't be there for them when they are elderly, and then tell them to keep paying in anyway? Cut funding for sciences and eduction? NASA?

It's very easy to say "we should be spending less". It's a lot harder to identify areas to be cut that will make a difference and that people aren't so passionate about that the cuts won't be reversed in 4 years or less.

Re:All this effort, just to avoid the real problem (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#35613400)

Aside from the DoD, the government really isn't spending too much money. The real issue is that they aren't taxing sufficiently to maintain a viable government without going into debt. Things like roads, schools, law enforcement and other things cost money, you can't continually to cut them without damaging or eliminating the tax base.

But, the other bit of it is that the voters reward the politicians that are willing to go into hock to start pointless wars and cut taxes for the rich and for corporations. We've got the money to pay, it's just that we're penny wise and pound foolish.

Plus, it's got basically nothing to do with government workers, they aren't the ones that pass these insane ideas or sign them, that's your politicians work.

Miles? none! Kilometers? many. (0)

thomasdz (178114) | about 3 years ago | (#35613136)

Thank Ghod I'm in Canada where we measure distances travelled in Kilometers

Re:Miles? none! Kilometers? many. (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | about 3 years ago | (#35613278)

Thank Ghod I'm in Canada where we measure distances travelled in Kilometers

...that just means you rack up the units of measurement faster, leading to higher taxation. :p

(...then again, at least they can be a bit more granular about it.)

Major privacy issues (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 3 years ago | (#35613140)

I've avoided milage-based insurance because of privacy issues.

Also, this will raise the incentive for odometer fraud.

This will open a huge bag of worms.

Far easier than direct billing are excise taxes on consumables such as fuel, tires, and the like bases on their rated life.

Sensor on every car? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613146)

How long until the sensor has GPS and telemetered data collection?

Re:Sensor on every car? (1)

ProppaT (557551) | about 3 years ago | (#35613218)

If they want to hire someone to read my odometer once a year when I renew my tag, then that's their up to them. If they think the general public is going to let them start chipping cars, they've got something else coming. That's not going to happen.

Re:Sensor on every car? (1)

Roskolnikov (68772) | about 3 years ago | (#35613308)

Actually I think they would prefer to chip and track us, after all, if you drive my car who pays the tax?

1984 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613158)

Was not meant to be a design document. And yet, ubiquitous government-mandated, government controlled GPS positioning for all vehicles. And so on, quite suddenly, to the end of freedom to travel, to internal passports ("Papers, please! Have you paid your congestion tax for Washington DC? No? I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn you back, sir. No, I do not care that you wish to attend a rally. Move along, sir, now").

"one nation united, with surveillance and homeland security for all."

But damn it feels good to be on the outside looking in, for once

Maybe, but only if... (2)

sureshot007 (1406703) | about 3 years ago | (#35613170)

I would only be ok with this if: 1) I didn't have to pay ANY taxes when registering a car (in NY it gets a little out of hand) 2) The electronic device did *not* have gps 3) The readings were taken during my annual inspection, and they just read the mileage on the odometer (ie - no new hardware to install, no costs associated with it)

Ah, the innovative US Govt (1)

hsmith (818216) | about 3 years ago | (#35613174)

If you can dream it, we can tax it.

by the logic of "hybrid vehicles aren't paying enough to cover construction costs" for roads - why do low MPG pay a "gas guzzler tax" - shouldn't they pay less in taxes?


Re:Ah, the innovative US Govt (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 3 years ago | (#35613300)

Because actually doing something to reduce pollution (promoting bicycling and mass transit, nuclear power, lower speed limits, better land use planning) will get you in trouble with powerful interests. So they had to do something useless so the politicians could claim to be green.

What is the Real Issue? (1)

pz (113803) | about 3 years ago | (#35613186)

Why do we need GPS-based electronic tracking to know how many miles our vehicles have travelled when the odometer already does that? In states with yearly safety inspections, those numbers are already recorded. Why is that not sufficient? It suggests that knowing not just how far each individual has travelled, but exactly where and when is what the government wants.

Re:What is the Real Issue? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | about 3 years ago | (#35613248)

If the money is for road maintenance then I get to disable it when I am driving on private property; for example for farm work, racing, and snow plowing. And if it can be disabled, people will leave it disabled.

Re:What is the Real Issue? (2)

ak_hepcat (468765) | about 3 years ago | (#35613256)

Because they're only taxing on federally funded highway/interstate miles, not on local infrastructure.
And they use the GPS, so that way there's no problems with knowing where your vehicle is.

You know, because that local road that sits underneath the highway is simple for the GPS to figure out...
Or the frontage road that's 20 feet to the side of the highway...

Equally? (1)

rebot777 (765163) | about 3 years ago | (#35613192)

Tell me again why we want to tax them equally? Haven't we figured out that the way to jump start the economy is to create more jobs in green technology? Instead of incentivising people to buy more efficient cars we're going to disincentivise all driving. That will fix the economy, more people staying at home doing nothing....

War on the middle class and poor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613204)

This will just drive prices for everything through the roof. I'm all for toll roads to save time and increasing the gas tax moderately but to tax per mile? I would likely stop driving my car and look to biking or telecommuting to work. Which I think if businesses can allow workers to do so they should get a tax break on it or at least write off the expense associated with providing telecommuting technology.

Non starter (1)

cfalcon (779563) | about 3 years ago | (#35613226)

Anything that monitors my car will not sit well with me.
Oh wait, or anyone at all.

My captcha is "pitiful". How appropriate.

Anyway, any rep who votes for this gets thrown out on his ear. This is just the noise the politicians make when they want to distract the politically minded.

Oh yeah, a new tax... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613238)

....is always politically better than raising an existing tax.

One could always ride a bike...& get killed by some doofus in a big dually diesel pickup.

Or, hey, become homeless...there's a thought. Tempting...

Isn't it curious that some politicians always rail about cutting waste, get elected, then can't seem to find all this waste they've been railing about???

Personally, I'd like to see h1b visa peoples' taxes quadrupled. Yeah, let's do that!

Government Waste (1)

agent_vee (1801664) | about 3 years ago | (#35613240)

Everyone in the Congressional Budget Office needs to be fired immediately. That would reduce the amount of taxes the government needs to collect...

Look at this from another direction. (1)

jimicus (737525) | about 3 years ago | (#35613282)

Let us be honest here, politicians seldom come up with particularly original technical ideas.

The idea that a group of politicians got together and said "Say, I know. If someone were to invent some sort of box which sits in the car, records mileage and reports back to some central system we could tax everyone based on the miles they've driven" - to me that's vanishingly unlikely.

What I think is rather more likely is a manufacturer of little black boxes contacted a bunch of politicians and said "Say, we've invented some sort of box which sits in the car, records mileage and reports back to a central system. You could legislate to make this box compulsory in all cars and then tax people based on the miles they've driven".

So, who makes such boxes?

Why not better road surfaces (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613284)

A big reason for highway maintenance is damage caused by the wear and tear of heavy trucks. Cars do not cause the same damage. Increase road or fuel tax for trucks and see every product they transport go up. That aside why after all this time do we still have the same tar and asphalt roads anyway? Isn't there a better road surface that would wear better, be more weather resistant and maybe even improve fuel mileage? Yes it would be a cost up front but new road surfaces could be done to the most traveled commercial highways for starters. Any reason that would not fly besides cost?

Gasoline tax is better (3, Insightful)

yerM)M (720808) | about 3 years ago | (#35613286)

"these taxes could be used to offset the costs of highway maintenance...The mileage tax is being considered instead of an increase in the gas tax in order to tax hybrids, EVs, and conventional automobiles equally."

If this were really the case then the gasoline tax is both a great proxy for miles driven and the weight of the vehicle (heavier vehicles consume more gasoline and also damage roads more per mile). It also fosters the purchase of lighter, more fuel efficient vehicles.

"Public" Transport (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35613290)

As soon as there is a public transport system that means I don't have to drive further to the bus stop than I do to my job......

As soon as there is a train station less than 80 miles away from me.....

As soon as I can fly somewhere without being groped and made to pay to actually take something with me..... .... Then we can start talking about measures that will reduce my ability to use the only vehicle that works for me.

Again? (1)

jandrese (485) | about 3 years ago | (#35613298)

How many months has it been since we last heard this? 4? 5? For some reason, despite the fact that it would be enormously expensive and a logistical nightmare, this idea keeps coming back from the dead. You see it floated from time to time as idle banter, but once someone starts to work out the details the whole idea falls apart.

Anything that requires you to buy and install hundreds of millions of GPS units is going to die when someone prices out the cost of GPS units. It's slightly more realistic if your annual safety inspection included a look at the odometer and a tax on how many miles you drove that year, but then it gets into the whole state/federal mess and the fact that some states don't do inspections and some do them at different intervals, etc...

Of course the easiest solution is to just raise the gas tax, but obviously that's politically difficult to do when you get campaign funds from the oil industry.

Next: The Resipiration Tax (1)

Chas (5144) | about 3 years ago | (#35613306)

In other news, the government has continued to squeeze blood from stone and instituted a tax on breathing.

"We generously provide all this air for you. It's only just that we be compensated" said Ima Asshat, a government spokesperson during a press conference today.

What is wrong with just reading the odometer? (1)

Bloodwine77 (913355) | about 3 years ago | (#35613316)

What is wrong with simply reading the odometer? Read the odometer when renewing auto tags each year. Granted, tag expirations are staggered throughout the year so people won't all have their odometers read in December (end of year). Still, even if you made a separate trip to the DMV to have the odometer read it'd likely be more cost effective (for both the government and for drivers) than installing metering devices in cars. To me, it just smells like an excuse to get tracking devices installed in everybody's cars.

Something's rotten in Denmark... (1)

ProppaT (557551) | about 3 years ago | (#35613318)

So, I wonder what kind of lobbyist-fueled-by-special-interest-tech-industry is pushing this? Sounds like a republican's wet dream: find a way to get more money out of the middle class and pump some more money into big business by selling millions of cheap to build, overpriced metering devices.

Gas tax (1)

slapout (93640) | about 3 years ago | (#35613324)

"used to offset the costs of highway maintenance" I thought that was what the gas tax was for.

"being considered instead of an increase in the gas tax in order to tax hybrids, EVs, and conventional automobiles equally"

The totally electric cars aren't going to be paying any gas tax, so are their mileage charges going to be greater so that they pay the same thing?

Besides, I thought we wanted a reward people who are "going green".

It depends on what "equally" means ... (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 3 years ago | (#35613340)

This issue's been brought up multiple times, and I've always asked the same question, and never gotten an answer --

Does the weight of the vehicles travelling affect road lifetime?

If so, those heavier vehicles, which naturally get worse gas mileage will contribute more based on a pure gas tax vs. a 'miles driven' tax.

In my opinion, the problem is that most of the gas taxes are 'per gallon' taxes, rather than a percentage tax ... so as gas prices go up, people buy smaller cars or drive less, and there's less tax base to maintain the roads. With a standard sales tax based on percentage, as the gas prices go up, so do the taxes, and so there's still revenue to maintain the roads, even if the gas consumption goes down.

If there are concerns that the gas prices will go down too far, then you do a split system, where the total tax is per gallon + a percentage.

The only thing this doesn't deal with is pure electric vehicles or those that can act in that way; but you can either handle those in a separate system ... if you go to a miles driven thing, you have to build out a whole new reporting system, and you'll have to deal with each individual vehicle, rather than just the points of sale. Some states have safety or emissions testing on a regular basis (every 1 to 3 years), so they might be able to take an odometer reading there, but then how do you handle farm vehicles where the majority of their miles driven aren't on the roads?

I'm guessing part of this is a protectionist move against electric vehicles and hybrids.

Seriously, this is stupid (1)

scubamage (727538) | about 3 years ago | (#35613348)

Honestly this is stupid. It's going to make transporting goods extremely expensive, driving the prices of everything up - including things that the government buys. On a side note, I really wish the country would loosen up on drug laws; the whole war on drugs thing really is starting to hamstring our economy. The revenue we'd make off of taxes is astronomical if we taxed them (even just minor ones such as cannabis), and the money we'd save on prisons is just as big (a significant of prison inmates across all tiers of the prison system are nonviolent minor drug offenders). Further, industrial hemp is a fantastic crop, its hardy, prolific, and easy to grow in the US (it was so plentiful and hard to kill it got its nickname, "weed"). Its effectively banned in the US. Pair that with effective, fact-based drug education (not the reefer-madness inspired DARE program) and I honestly don't see that many problems really coming from it.

Won't work regardless (1)

dukevader (1417493) | about 3 years ago | (#35613358)

So, lets say they do put this meter in your car. As it stands right now we can literally reprogram EVERYTHING in your car via OBDII. So how long do you think before there would be hacks setting it to something stupid. And when questioned, all people are going to say is 'well, I car pool'. Even if they go based on your mileage. There are still ways you can fake the mileage on your car. Do I think many will go to that extreme? Who knows. Point is unless its guaranteed its going to happen. Its utter BS and they should be ashamed for even suggesting it.

I have a dream... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | about 3 years ago | (#35613360)

...where I can read an article about the government doing something, ANYTHING without facepalming.
Unfortunately, I don't see this ever becoming a reality.

This is a great idea (1)

holophrastic (221104) | about 3 years ago | (#35613382)

Especially if I can stop paying those taxes for public transit that I don't use. I'd happily pay by distance. I don't see why electronic meters would be required though. I go for bi-annual emmissions tests anyway, just look at the odometer then, and charge me accordingly.

It's also great because unlike gas taxes, it won't tax tourists driving through. Since tourists certainly do their part to contribute to the economy, giving them cheaper gas makes a lot of sense. Truckers are already covered in their own ways, so that's not a factor.

I like it. usage-based billing. makes a lot of sense. especially when I want to rev the engine and burn gas for fun. although, I drive around for fun too.

either way, great idea. let's do it. as long as pot-holes are fixed, and road construction doesn't close roads for months at a time. I'm in.

Not practical (1)

Posting=!Working (197779) | about 3 years ago | (#35613398)

It doesn't matter, it will fail if they pass it when they try to implement it.

If they require it on new cars, used cars will become more valuable, to the point new car sales would come to a near complete stop. Would you buy the 2015 with built in tax instead of a used 2014 with no tax counter? Would anyone?

They could require a device in used cars. On post-1996 cars, they could use the OBDII port, but a lot of them (if not all) can be reprogrammed to correct the speedometer anyway. Set the final gear ratio to 0 and drive tax-free.

A different gear in the transmission or on the differential will change the measurement. Even if they installed sensors on the axles (not a cheap proposal), you can make it read less mileage if you used larger wheels or tires.

You can easily block a GPS or transmitter antenna.

I don't see how they would implement it in a way that isn't easily and simply defeated.

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