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Dutch Government To Tax Drivers Based On Car Use

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the oregonians-are-next dept.

Privacy 500

An anonymous reader writes "The Netherlands is testing a new car use tax system that will tax drivers based upon how much they drive rather than just taxing the vehicle itself. The trials utilize a little box outfitted with GPS, wireless internet, and a complex rating system that tracks a car's environmental impact, its distance driven, its route, and what time it is driven as a fairer way to assess the impact of the vehicle and hopefully dissuade people from driving. The proposal will be introduced slowly as a replacement for the current car and gas tax, however it is most certainly controversial and will be a real test of how far environmentally savvy Dutch citizens will be willing to go to reduce the impact of the car."

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This was proposed in Oregon (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077742)

It makes the tax more fair to charge road-users by the mile and the ton over the road, and how would you measure that without a GPS odometer in every car?. Don't look at the idea that the state associates your tax ID with your vehicle and tracks your every move. That's just the fairest way to collect the tax. There's no other motive here. Take off your tinfoil hat. There is no ulterior motive. Trust us.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (3, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077768)

It makes the tax more fair to charge road-users by the mile and the ton over the road, and how would you measure that without a GPS odometer in every car?

Tax the fuel. It's not just Oregonians that use the road.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077788)

No, they will use it to track us. They already implemented a similar system in the public transports network that tracks you every move.

Remember, this is the country that has the most known wiretaps out on its citizens(China and NKorea are good contenders if we would know.).

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077808)

True, but the UK has more video footage of its citizens. ;)

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077850)

And yet the UK police still can't do shit to prevent the crimes which are going on during these riots.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (2)

lucidlyTwisted (2371896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077984)

Indeed, and this is because a camera cannot walk about and actually apprehend people. But cameras can be bought from companies who would be very appreciative of a civil servant/MP who authorised their purchase.

Cameras also make it easier to levy fines, which raises revenue.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (4, Informative)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077910)

Tax the fuel.

In the Netherlands? Well, it's possible, tax is only some 60% of the price per liter yet. Fuel price in the Netherlands is already high though.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (3, Insightful)

boaworm (180781) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078052)

Exactly... what's wrong with taxing the fuel?

The idea is to make people use less fossil fuel, to conserve driving when possible, and get eco-friendlier cars.

It's so backwards, as the ultimate goal is to reduce fuel consumption, so let's tax mileage?

Of course, when we all have nice green eco-friendly recycleable electic cars with batteries that don't kill 100 square miles of land... then they have to tax something else.. but that's quite far in the future :)

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (3, Informative)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077830)

Not really the fairest way. Cars create very little wear and tear on the highways (They are like 95% of the volume and responsible for 5% of the wear and tear). The two main externalities of cars are pollution which a gas tax can roughly cover, and congestion, which tolls can cover. Per-mile only makes sense where the miles themselves create the externality like heavy trucks and farm equipment.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37078004)

They are like 95% of the volume and responsible for 5% of the wear and tear

So what accounts for the other 95% of the wear and tear if it isn't the millions of cars using the road network? I'm pretty sure cars account for more than 5%. In Germany the amount of pass-through traffic of heavyweight trucks from other countries who tear up the German road network but don't contribute to it's maintenance is considered a major problem.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

barrkel (806779) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078022)

Probably the biggest cause of wear and tear is snow and ice (freeze-thaw, expanding cracks), and after that hydraulic action (wet weather + tyres). If you have temperate weather and roads with good drainage and a solid foundation, I don't think you should see a whole lot of damage. But the potholes really come out after a cold snap.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077838)

In theory, you could have all the processing done in the unit itself. A map of every road in the country, plus the pricing quotas for those roads, would fit on an SD card. The unit could process its location history and simply upload the bill.

That's not to say that it's how it will be done, but it's how I'd do it.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (3, Insightful)

tinkerton (199273) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077842)

Take off your tinfoil hat. There is no ulterior motive. Trust us. Ok, let's settle on plain stupidity. A fuel tax is a good measure and it takes in account very well the difference between an SUV and a Prius. Setting up a huge infrastructure in an attempt to go from 'good' to perfectly fair is very misguided. Usually it's the old 'because it has flaws it can't be good and it should be removed.' Then all you need is an example, however rare, where the fuel tax can be considered unfair.

And of course once your every move is being tracked every possible use will be made of that data.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (5, Interesting)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077882)

and how would you measure that without a GPS odometer in every car?

Easy. By taxing tires.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078064)

People will just keep running their old tires as long as they can, long after the point at which they become unsafe...

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

squizzar (1031726) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078066)

I'm not sure taxing essential safety equipment is prudent. With that thinking you might as well start taxing brake pads (people who drive inefficiently will wear them faster). What could possibly go wrong...

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

NalosLayor (958307) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077908)

This seems like the kind of tax that GPS manufacturers would lobby for... "The market is already saturated with GPS devices? Let's make it illegal to not have TWO!"

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077960)

how about they revert to using the federal highway tax for what it was intended for instead of the bloated tax mess we have now?

fuck fairness.. the government was never about being fair.. I don't care what country.. I'm tired of being fucked at both ends from government and the corp-rats as they do backdoor dealings with each other to fuck the rest of us over.

this will be just another tax ON TOP OF what already exists..

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077974)

Remember that's the Netherlands. It's entirely realistic to commute with a bicycle and no-one will be tracking you.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078006)

"It makes the tax more fair to charge road-users by the mile and the ton over the road"

More "fair" possibly, but not more rational.

It hurts essential car users like couriers, commuters, and so forth, but does nothing to combat lazy people who take their kids 1 mile each way to school in the SUV when they could just as easily walk.

This sort of tax basically says "Yeah it's okay to use your car wastefully, for pointless journeys because you're lazy. But want to be a salesman? want to fill a skill gap in an area - such as doctors - by commuting to it? want to be a courier? want to live in and support a rural community? Well tough shit".

This sort of tax is a sure way to gimp your economy, making it harder for companies to find the skills they need by hiring commuters whilst failing to make any impact on wasteful road use and emissions.

Re:This was proposed in Oregon (2)

outsider007 (115534) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078050)

Yes and like Netherlands, Oregon drivers should be incentivized for smoking weed. Because weed makes you stay off the highway, and in your apartment listening to Steely Dan albums where your carbon footprint is low.

Seems like a lot of effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077754)

Why not just tax fuel like everyone else? This messing about with GPS seems ridiculous to achieve such a simple aim.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077776)

I think this is based on the the standard cart-before-the-horse "How will we get tax revenues when electric cars become common" fear.

Honestly, until we're even within spitting distance of such a scenario, they can safely be neglected. For the next decade or two, they're not going to have a relevant dent in tax revenues. There's no need to do this sort of stuff now when it'll be obsoleted before it's needed, and when at best it's an additional hindrance on the industry.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077898)

There's no need to do this sort of stuff now when it'll be obsoleted before it's needed

Sure there is. At least if you ask the lobbyist for the company that thinks they will win the contract to produce the hardware.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (2, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077780)

Why not just tax fuel like everyone else? This messing about with GPS seems ridiculous to achieve such a simple aim.

If they really wanted to be fair they'd find a way that taxes the bicyclists and out-of-state drivers, too.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077796)

You can mod my post down if you like, it still doesn't address the concern of fairness.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (0)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077824)

What about walkers? They're using the sidewalk, they should pay for it, and maybe we should tax based on weight of the individual because heavier people put more strain on the sidewalk than lighter people

I'm looking forward to the day where you can not leave your house without being taxed.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077852)

Well, I'm sure they'll find a way to tax you for not leaving your house as well.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077866)

Why not just tax fuel like everyone else? This messing about with GPS seems ridiculous to achieve such a simple aim.

Not everyone else just taxes fuel. The recognition being that it doesn't affect buying behaviour / consumption as much as it should. Many countries have a motor tax and these days it is usually based on engine size and / or CO2 emissions. The idea is the upfront & and annual financial hit is a more effective way to impress upon people to buy efficient vehicles. It certainly works in Ireland where diesel and small engine sizes are the norm and there is a €2000 difference between the best tax band and the worst..

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (2)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077868)

Why not just tax fuel like everyone else? This messing about with GPS seems ridiculous to achieve such a simple aim.

Taxing fuel is pretty obvious. The GPS solution seems a little nefarious and a lot flawed, because they don't achieve anything that a petrol tax doesn't achieve and there is a wealth of other information they could take from it about my habits.

Anything they fit to your car can be modified to report incorrect data, or disabled. When the devices are common because they're mandated it won't take long for someone to figure out how. The same thing happened here with the 100kph limiters for heavy trucks and buses. They are a good idea in theory, but once they were common owners/operators began tampering with them in order to exceed the limit. They do this despite it being illegal.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (2)

izomiac (815208) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077912)

Electric vehicles perhaps, although then you could just move to taxing tires. AFAIK their degradation is correlated to distance traveled and weight carried. Plus tire wear is probably highly correlated with road wear, which is kinda the point.

Re:Seems like a lot of effort (1)

hackertourist (2202674) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078026)

We already have a fuel tax, in fact more than 50% of the fuel prices is taxes. But that's not what this scheme is about.
There are two goals:
1. to combat congestion, by setting a high price for road sections and times where congestion occurs.

2. to replace the current car sales tax (BPM) and ownership tax. BPM and ownership taxes are used to promote clean, efficient vehicles: cars with the lowest CO2 emissions enjoy lower taxes.
BPM goes against European regulations so it will have to be replaced eventually. The ownership tax currently discriminates against people who don't drive much: the tax tariff is independent of your kilometrage, so you pay taxes even if you don't use the car.

Already in use in several countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077760)

It's called gasoline tax.

Re:Already in use in several countries (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077836)

No can do! Then the Germans wouldn't come across the border anymore to get cheap fuel!

Re:Already in use in several countries (2)

Xiph1980 (944189) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077914)

You clearly don't live in the Netherlands or surrounding countries.
There is no cheap fuel to get in NL. It wouldn't surprise me if we'd have the most expensive fuel in the world even. Dutch people already go to Germany and Belgium to get cheaper fuel.

Re:Already in use in several countries (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077934)

Interesting. Wasn't it the other way 'round a few years ago?

Re:Already in use in several countries (1)

Xiph1980 (944189) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077966)

It's been like this for at least as long as I can remember. As a toddler we used to fill up in Germany because that was a lot cheaper. That was about 30 years ago.

Fuel tax? (2)

Nick Fel (1320709) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077762)

Isn't this much easier to achieve -- albeit with less accuracy -- via fuel tax? Every time the government here proposes a mileage tax, I can't help but think we already have one. Added benefit of encouraging people to drive more efficient cars.

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077784)

Yes, fuel tax already does that. However it doesn't differentiate between "good" mileage (the lorries that transport food/goods around) and the "bad" mileage such as driving little Johnny a quarter of a mile to school in the 4x4 every day (and then back again, later).

This system also allows governments to adjust the tax paid by different groups according to their revenue-raising targets/public opinion/congestion reduction needs, in the same way they can target other groups with income and Value Added taxes.

Though you've got to wonder what the effect of one individual with a GPS jammer in a city centre at rush-hour would be?

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077826)

Ours does. Fuel for transport vehicles can be claimed against tax and you get (part of) the fuel tax back.

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077844)

Though you've got to wonder what the effect of one individual with a GPS jammer in a city centre at rush-hour would be?

^---- This.

Right now you don't have a choice, if you buy gasoline you pay the tax, but as soon as the government puts the monitoring system in the hands of the people there will be people that will attempt to disable it somehow, and given how poor GPS works in my vehicle and smartphone I'm thinking it won't be too difficult to circumvent.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

ooloogi (313154) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077856)

Is there "good" and "bad" mileage? If it's about road wear, then pavement damage goes with something like the cube or more of weight, so the truck is likely to do more road damage per litre of fuel used than little Johnny's car. If it's about traffic congestion, trucks also slow traffic flow. If it's about CO2 emissions, then emitting 1kg of CO2 from the car taking Johnny to school worse than causing 1kg of CO2 to be emitted from getting stuff delivered?

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077878)

"Good" and "bad" in what respect? Wear on the roads? Congestion? Pollution?

Re:Fuel tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077916)

Sure it does. The 4x4 gets lousy gas mileage, so they are paying more. Your definition of good and bad is your own however. This is the kind of thinking we don't need from government. If I want to drive a 4x4 everywhere that's my concern. You don't get to decide that for me.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078000)

I know a guy who used to un-plug the wire connected to the speedometer so that the mileage counter didn't increment when he went on long trips. I can imagine people unplugging the antenna of their GPS. Jammers are available but the GPS signal is so weak anyway that you could probably sabotage it without needing to keep something that would act as evidence in court in your car.

Your example of commercial haulage being "good" mileage is interesting. We need to get as much of that traffic off the roads as possible and higher taxation is not the way to do it. There has to be a better option available, which usually means rail. In the UK we destroyed much of our rail infrastructure in the 60s because we were doing it wrong and rather than do it right it was simply abandoned.

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

xelah (176252) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078042)

Yes, fuel tax already does that. However it doesn't differentiate between "good" mileage (the lorries that transport food/goods around) and the "bad" mileage such as driving little Johnny a quarter of a mile to school in the 4x4 every day (and then back again, later).

That's very kind of you to decide whats good and bad to save everyone else the bother. We already have a mechanism to distinguish these: do you value it enough to be prepared to pay the market price? If you can get the market price equal to the cost to society by taxing based on pollution, congestion and so on, why do you need to intervene to crudely categorize 'good' and 'bad' uses? If you're worried about the effect on poorer people then you should instead worry about misallocation of income, not cause deliberate mispricing.

Mispricing caused by you making an exception for food will distort certain decisions, such as:

  • - Do I transport food to my supermarkets at 9am, or be more careful to stick 3am and 2pm, letting my staff sit idle for an hour or two if I have to? If it costs sufficiently more I may avoid busy times more.
  • - How many warehouses do I use and where do I put them? If transport costs more relative to storage I may use more storage facilities in order to drive fewer miles.
  • - What size of vehicle do I use and how many stops does it make? A large vehicle making many stops may cause more damage to roads or more pollution, but cost less in driver time. Increasing the cost of a ton-mile relative to staff time will change that equation.
  • - Which route do I choose? Do I avoid densely populated areas at the expense of more time and fuel use?
  • - How much extra am I prepared to pay for a quieter vehicle, or a safer vehicle, or one which damages the road less?

Getting the road pricing right will mean each retailer will try to balance these for themselves. Large retailers are generally pretty good at making these decisions, IF they have the right incentives.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

MrL0G1C (867445) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078046)

There's no such thing as 'good mileage' those goods vehicles spit out pollution and wear out the roads. Longer miles means more vehicle wear which leads to more environmentally destructive vehicle repair. And the 'goods' which are not food - how much of those are produced in an 100% environmentally friendly manner - practically none.

Taxing fuel encourages the use of local food produce and lessens the need for road repairs.

Good point about the GPS jammer, I bet those could be put together for a pittance and hidden where they would take hours or ays to find.

I live in the UK and fully support the fuel tax. I also cycle everywhere within 10-20 miles.

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

sosume (680416) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077806)

With neighbouring countires a hundred kilometers away for many, it would be rather rewarding to get cheap gasoline just across the border.

Re:Fuel tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077834)

With neighbouring countires a hundred kilometers away for many, it would be rather rewarding to get cheap gasoline just across the border.

Don't the neighbouring countries have fuel taxes? Or maybe you mean that the of tax the Dutch want to apply to car sage is unusually high - that would answer the question but hasn't been mentioned so far.

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077870)

100km = 60 miles, unless the gas is significantly cheaper it's not worth spending a few gallons of gas to save 10 cents a gallon.

A neighboring state to me has gas that is about 20 cents more per gallon than where I live because of taxes. If you're within 10 miles of the border it makes sense to come here to fill-up, since 20 miles roundtrip is ~1 gallon of gas and would save about $4.00 in a 20 gallon tank (20 gal * 20 cents = $4).

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

Bram Stolk (24781) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077810)

Remember that the Netherlands has a tiny area.
This means that pretty much everyone lives close to the Belgium or German border.
Dutch taxes on fuel are currently already extremely high.
But that high tax rate is easily avoided by filling up at the border.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077854)

The difference in gas prices between german/belgian petrol stations along the border and cheap, unmanned gasstations inside the country is so small it hardly pays to make a 10km detour for it, let alone the 100km+ distance most inhabitants would need to drive.

Re:Fuel tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077970)

And to add insult to injury.
The Dutch government had the bright idea to charge VAT on top of the taxes.

Currently petrol is about 1.65 EURO/liter and diesel 1.30. (About 9.25 $/gallon and 7.30 $/gallon)
75% of that is just taxes.

I live just 5 kilometers from the border.
But filling up in Belgium makes little sense for most people at the moment.
Until about 6 months ago Belgium used to be slightly cheaper (10 cents for petrol, about 5 cents/liter for diesel)
But now prices in Belgium are roughly the same.
Petrol is about 3 cents/liter cheaper. Diesel is actually 2 cents more expensive in Belgium.

From what I hear Germany is still slightly cheaper, but not by much either.
(Don't know first hand. Germany is a 2 hours drive from here, haven't been there in several years.)

Grin: Captcha is "neighbor", appropriate :-)

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

drginge (963701) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077814)

While placing the tax on fuel would seem like the obvious answer, the high cost of gas in Europe (equivalent of over $8 a gallon) is already a political headache, and any government which proposed to add more tax to an already heavily taxed commodity would soon find themselves very unpopular. People like the idea of being environmentally friendly, being fuel efficient etc, but they love the personal freedom and liberty that cars give them - what they want is a cheaper, more environmentally friendly method of getting around without a loss in what they see as their basic rights.

Re:Fuel tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077816)

I think governments sometimes lose sight of the purpose of taxation, to raise revenue. Fuel taxes are already in place, and easy to administer.

In the UK, two thirds of the retail price of fuel is tax [thisismoney.co.uk] .

Re:Fuel tax? (2)

JackDW (904211) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077820)

Yes, and this can't replace the fuel tax, because if it did, The Netherlands would have the cheapest fuel in Europe. Drivers in neighbouring countries would drive there to refuel. There's no border checkpoint. So it would need to be an additional tax on top of the fuel tax.

The article quotes someone as saying: âoeTo do it you need support of the government, and it needs to happen when there is not an election because thereâ(TM)s always a bit of resistance.â

Most likely a lot of resistance. The only thing people hate more than being taxed is being taxed twice. And when the "meter also factors in the cost to society in the form of pollution, traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions and wear and tear on roads", people are inevitably going to wonder if these costs are being calculated in a fair and reasonable way.

Re:Fuel tax? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077860)

Yes, and this can't replace the fuel tax, because if it did, The Netherlands would have the cheapest fuel in Europe. Drivers in neighbouring countries would drive there to refuel.

Ah, that's the first thing anyone's said that explains why the Dutch would want this tax instead of a fuel tax. It makes buying petrol (and incidentally using other services, shopping, having a day out etc. while you're there) in Holland more attractive if you live nearby. Which is obviously good for business. But why do you say they "can't" do that? Once explained that way it actually seems like a good move. I don't think any of the EU treaties make fuel taxes compulsory do they?

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

lucidlyTwisted (2371896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077880)

Mod parent up!

Indeed. Not only does it let people manage how much they are taxed directly (drive less, more efficiently, buy a more efficient vehicle....) it also does not required € billions in Orwellian state control mechanisms.

Re:Fuel tax? (3, Interesting)

zakkie (170306) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077892)

It's not less accurate, it's completely correct. Fuel-based taxation is the perfect solution, and every country I'm aware of already taxes fuel heavily. To add another tax on top of it is either really ignorant (unlikely) or an attempt by the powers that be to further and unfairly lighten the wallets of their citizenry, wrapped up in an "environmentally-conscious" sugar coating. Fighting this unfair tax would now mean that you're an anti-environment reactionary doing the bidding of the dirty oil companies.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077920)

The promise is that the amount money flowing to the government remains the same as it is now (or does not increase more that it would without the system). Supposedly people who already drive less will end up paying less tax, while long distance/frequent drivers will end up paying more.

Of course we all know these promises are rarely kept.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078062)

That would be impossible, because the system itself needs to be paid too. There will be billions spent on development, hardware and maintenance.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

xelah (176252) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077982)

Fuel taxes do a poor job of correcting the externality because they don't accurately reflect the costs you impose on others when you drive. Those costs come from accident risk (minus what you pay for insurance), noise, local pollution, global pollution, damage to buildings, roads and crops, policing, congestion and the worsening of the physical environment, especially in cities. The size of those depends on:

  • - When you drive (congestion, accident risk and night time noise)
  • - Where you drive (almost all of the above; remember that local pollution and noise in cities affects more people)
  • - Which particular roads you choose - do you cut through the residential streets, for example
  • - What car you drive (a modern car the uses the same amount of fuel as an old car may still emit fewer pollutants this causing fewer health problems and less damage to crops and buildings, may have a lower accident risk and may be quieter)
  • - How you drive (accident risk, noise, your effect on congestion and pollution)
  • - How heavy your vehicle is (damage to roads especially, but maybe some sensitive or historic buildings, too, from vibrations)

eg, IIRC, there are several cities where the number of early deaths from traffic pollution is larger than the number from accidents. Also IIRC, there was a study in the Netherlands about the costs of traffic that put local and global pollution costs about equal on average, but of course not for any given journey. That's the sort of thing you can't capture with a fuel tax because of the effect of population density.

Re:Fuel tax? (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078014)

Why yes. The current petrol tax in NL is close to €1/l... I say we certainly have road pricing here already. But from the government's perspective, a fuel tax has one glaring flaw: it can only go so high before even people in the south-west of the country will consider driving to Belgium for gas, driving gas stations near the borders completely out of business.

Now with a scheme that actually lets you charge by the km, the sky is the limit. Great for milking people with no viable alternative to commute, for all they're worth. People don't sit around in traffic jams for fun; even in a country like the Netherlands with its dense and well operated public transport network, cars are still the better alternative by far, even with traffic jams. It's nice for government to be able to tax those people selectively; like putting a high tax on basic necessities so people have no choice to pay, but in this case there's the advantage of being able to sell it as "more fair" and "green".

You can also come up with weird pricing schemes; an old favourite of cell phone providers. Charge for this bit of road, lower the price on that one, fiddle with the car and petrol tax a little, and claim that it's all good, claim that perhaps some will pay more but most will pay less, and the tax burden will remain the same (actual statement from the previous minister of transportation). Except that it won't, of course. And it's not like the current tax does not bring in enough. Road tax, petrol tax and the 45% tax on new cars already pay for the roads and public transport subsidies 3 times over.

For those wondering about GPS jammers and the like: that's covered. There are enough roadside cameras to do a little licence plate recognition. If they spot you on a priced road but don't have a matching GPS signal, they'll send you the bill anyway. If this happens too often, it'll be a fine.

Movement won't be a reliable measure (5, Insightful)

LoadWB (592248) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077764)

Putting an environmental impact fee (tax) on fuel would be a more reliable compensation for your impact than GPS. If I sit idling in my car for a few hours I can burn an entire tank of gas without moving an inch.

For what will the GPS tracking *really* be used?

Re:Movement won't be a reliable measure (4, Insightful)

fearlezz (594718) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077846)

Indeed. The car's location will be known to the authorities 24x7. Combine that with the fact that all your movements with public transportation are soon tracked with the chip-card, and it means that the government knows where you are any time of the day unless you're walking.

Re:Movement won't be a reliable measure (1)

lucidlyTwisted (2371896) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077886)

"The car's location will be known to the authorities 24x7."
It pretty much is. Not heard of the ANPR cameras and never wondered why license plated have an RFID chip in them?

Re:Movement won't be a reliable measure (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077928)

It's not about the environment. Not sure why that was thrown in. It's more about traffic management, e.g. if you drive outside of rush hours you will be less than during rush hour. Also KM's within congested areas will be more costly than elsewhere.

Re:Movement won't be a reliable measure (1)

Arlet (29997) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078030)

There's already a penalty for driving in rush hour: you sit in slow traffic. People who can avoid it, will already do so.

This system adds a ton of complexity and costly overhead, while not providing much improvement over the current situation.

They gotta know where you are all the time (5, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077792)

No really. It's for your own good.
 

Wouldn't a gas tax bet better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077794)

Surely a tax on petrol would be preferable?
This tax means a 6 litre SUV will pay the same as a little 1.5 litre 2-seater!

Re:Wouldn't a gas tax bet better? (1)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077872)

In taxes, yes, but the SUV is still using more fuel so it would still cost far more to drive.

Bikes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077804)

If you live in the Netherlands and don't live within biking distance of work, you're an idiot.

Re:Bikes (1)

ComaVN (325750) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077884)

Not everyone lives in Amsterdam, you know

You're all looking at this the wrong way. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077812)

This isn't about fairly taxing road usage. That's just their rationale for implementing a system for tracking private citizens.

I must applaud them though. Instead of using the threat of terrorism to justify the system, they are hijacking ecological concerns. That shows imagination.

What they do not tell.. (2)

tramp (68773) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077822)

are the costs involved with building and maintaining this system. Combined with privacy concerns, possible fraud and system failure makes an fuel tax much more preferable.

A No Brainer (1, Interesting)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077828)

What a smart idea that is. Smart because it automatically gives cheapskates a way to lower their expenses. If you don't want to pay a lot, let your car sit and ride your bike. Use your car only when you really need to haul around a huge hunk of metal. Most cars are empty but for the single, fat driver, hauling their can to work and back. A law like this would have multiple benefits:
  • Discourage unnecessary driving
  • Encourage fat-ass drivers to walk, carpool or ride a bicycle
  • Encourage people to move out of suburbs, closer to their actual jobs
  • Wish we could do that in other places such as fat-ass-central: the USA. But that would smack of some environmental/social welfare idea and the fat-ass Conservatives would have none of it.

Re:A No Brainer (1)

UmbraDei (1979082) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077936)

Of course, the Dutch already ride more on their bikes than almost any other country in the world... Making your point pretty obsolete (except for the last benefit you mentioned.)

Re:A No Brainer (1)

xnpu (963139) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077944)

You misunderstand the idea. There will be large areas when the system will not bill you while your normal car tax is lowered. If anything, this encourages more people to buy and use cars in those areas. Again, it's not an environmental issue. It's just about getting traffic to stay away from congested areas/hours.

Re:A No Brainer (1)

Caesar Tjalbo (1010523) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077978)

You can lower your expenses now by buying a small, used car and using it sparingly. However, if too many people would save money on their car, the government would have to find another means of getting income. Income needed to develop projects like this, I might add, because it's something that's been under development for over a decade now. The best thing about motorists is that you can milk them and keep on milking them; people hate to give up their car.

Re:A No Brainer (1)

MPAB (1074440) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077988)

I live in Guadalajara, Spain (the original one). It's got about 90 thousand inhabitants, most of which work in Madrid (about 60 km away).
The hospital, where I work at, is 7 min away from here by car. Should I take the bus, the trip lasts 30 min, to which I must add an average 15 min between buses at peak times. Now, that's 45 min against 7, twice a day.
If I go to Madrid, it takes about an hour if by train or if by car. But by car I bypass the 30-40' of busing to the train station and also the time limits (I must get back before 10 pm or I may not find any buses at the station in Guadalajara).

Now, if that appears difficult: Try doing it with a child and a toddler in a stroller.

Not to mention going from one city to another and finding there's only one bus to go in the morning and one to get back in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, the politicians will always have their official AUDIs with a driver.

Antidemocratic (4, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077832)

FTA: Eric-Mark Huitema, a transportation specialist with I.B.M ... “To do it you need support of the government, and it needs to happen when there is not an election because there’s always a bit of resistance.”

With people like that, we don't need terrorists hating democracy, we obviously have democracy-haters running the place. Not that it's surprising, but it's even more odious when they're so blatant about it.

Odometer? (1)

mishu2065 (1616553) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077848)

How about reading the odometer when you do the Vehicle Roadworthiness Test [angloinfo.com] every 2 years or every year? Not completely tamperproof of course, but then I hear turning back the odometer on newer models is a bit trickier. As for cheating, it might be offset by not having to install a GPS device in every car.

What a car wreck! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077858)

KISS just went out the window.

GPS jammer sales go up? (1)

MoFoQ (584566) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077894)

makes ya wonder if this will lead to an increase in sales of GPS jammers...or at the very least...tinfoil

Canceled (4, Informative)

TBerben (1061176) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077924)

This plan was canceled in the Netherlands as one of the first acts of the latest government (Rutte-1). I believe they were planning to increase taxes on fuel as a compensation.

Re:Canceled (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077962)

I think it was already cancelled with the previous governement, when the at that time responsible minister for the system said something about it not working as expected and not supporting it.

Anyway, with the current political situation its unlikely to happen in the upcoming 4 years.

old news, and how robust will this system be?? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077952)

I'm a bit surprised to see this article at slashdot. The plans to have tax on milage (kilometer heffing in dutch) are already existing for a very long time here in the Netherlands. The former government was actually planning to introduce this, but the current government killed the project. So for me this isn't really news.

Further I'm very interested to see how such a system can be made robust. GPS signals are very weak and are easily jammed. One weather balloon and GPS jammer under the balloon will stop tax collection for half the nation.

We really need more engineers in politics!

Tax on car use.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077954)

How innovative. That would be the same as tax on petrol?

What the system is (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077964)

The 'kilometerheffing' or 'rekeningrijden', kilometer charge, is a system to replace road tax and the extra VAT (BPM=40%!) on a car. It is supposed to enter service in 2014 but because of non-governance a while back I suppose it is delayed.

How the pricing is determined:
-type of fuel
-type of engine/exhaust system (no particle filter == 2.5 ct/km)
-place of the road (not sure if this in the current proposals)
-time of day

The system makes having a car cheap and driving one expensive in congestion areas/time.

I think the system, which was publicized in 2010 (!), is a little unfair. I bought my car in 2009, which is without particle filter. I now face, without doing anything, a hefty 2.5ct/km tax. That is 875 euro per year for me. Tell me where I could have made a different decision.

Re:What the system is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077990)

Simple. Add a particle filter. Otherwise just cough it up ;)

Why again? (1)

mpol (719243) | more than 3 years ago | (#37077972)

I'm Dutch, and there has been a lot of controversy about this system. One disadvantage of the system is that it's an invasion of privacy. The government now knows exactly where and when you drive.

I just don't understand why it's needed. Currently there's a lot of tax on gasoline, and it has the same function. If you drive a lot, or if your car uses lots of gasoline, you pay more.
This system provides the same function, but with a lot of bureaucracy, and an invasion of privacy.

They never stop do they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077980)

I thought the Dutch recently agreed on a fuel tax to achieve just this? From there on, all a GPS based solution has to offer is no more than a blatant invasion of privacy.

As who doesn't drive his care much.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077994)

...I like the idea of not having to pay a load of taxes for something I don't use nearly as much as others.

But I'm very worried about the GPS tracking aspect of it. Do I think that this is part of some evil government plan to invade all our private lives and track our every move? No.. but I am not confident at all that at some point politicians won't start realizing there's a lot of data here that can be used for.. well, other things.

To give an example of this happening recently; A few years ago here in the Netherlands they started collecting fingerprints in order to get a passport - supposedly only for improving the security of the passport (preventing ID theft and such). It was only later that we learned that all these fingerprints were being collected and thrown together in a giant searchable database. Fortunately there was some outrage about that and now at least for the time being no more fingerprints are being collected.

But it does show that you need to be careful with these things; the current policymakers may be against the idea of using this data for other things, but there is no guarantee that future ones aren't

No way will I nor other Americans submit to this! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37077998)

I promise to vigorously fight any legislation that uses gps or any in car monitoring technology. Already we pay evey year for registration and each town has an excise tax based on % of your vehicles estimated value (several hundred dollars per year), then 1/3 years for license renewals. I will disable/destroy it if my state becomes a tax/police dictatorship and forces it on us (hmmm are we there yet?)
Besides the obvious abuse and privacy issues public transportation options SUCK!! I'd love to ride a bus or train to work just so I could read or do work or whatever instead of drive but there just is no way to vet to work and back when I need to, and I'd have to walk miles to bus stops.
What's also extremely grating is that we already paid for the roads through taxes and now every state/local government is broke and can't maintain the roads anyway. And I'm confused about the mixed messages of buy fuel efficient cars to saves energy, reduce foreign oil dependance and save co2 emissions but now people do that and gas tax revenue falls so there's a new tax to make up for that? What?
Policy makers I wish I could quit you.

Why go down this road? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37078016)

A few questions arise:

Who is going to pay for this device, which costs about the equivalence of a modern smartphone?
Will it be foolproof? GPS signal, cellphone network, internal circuits all easily hacked.
Should it even exist? Traffic jams are in itself negative enforcement for not driving, most people drive because they need to be somewhere (work, school, shop), that behavior is not going to change by taxes.

Utterly nonsens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37078020)

This plan has been discarded about 2 years ago!

Wrong caption of an informative article (1)

victor50 (2139882) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078024)

I have read the article itself and it is very informative on the subject. The Slashdot caption is completely off the mark. It should have read: "Disappointment on abolishing plan to tax car use in the Netherlands" or something like that.

Reading comprehension #fail (4, Informative)

antientropic (447787) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078032)

The headline and the summary are pretty much completely wrong: as the NY Times article explains, the trial was two years ago, but the government cancelled plans to introduce "rekeningrijden" (GPS-based metered driving) last year. So it's not going to happen anytime soon - unless the Netherlands suddenly gets a left-wing government, which is unlikely.

Dissuade from driving cars? (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078056)

Trying to get people to stop using cars is basically forcing them to reduce their quality of life... There are simply no viable alternatives to many car uses for a lot of people.

Public transport is useless, its dirty, unreliable, often unsafe, overcrowded (yes i know the roads can be crowded too, but at least you have somewhere comfortable to sit in a car and can stop to take a break), doesn't run all night and is even more useless outside of large cities.

Riding bikes is only practical for short distances, where its not too hilly and where it's safe to do so... This is why so many people ride bikes in holland, the population is densely packed, the ground is flat and there are cycle routes everywhere. In other places, cyclists are expected to share the roads with large dangerous vehicles and aren't allowed to ride on the sidewalk - even if the sidewalk is empty and the road is full of vehicles, thus slowing down the vehicles (causing them to waste more fuel) and increasing the danger for the cyclist.

Taking away people's personal transportation is a terrible thing to do, having your own car massively increases your quality of life and this is not a new thing, having your own horse has done this for hundreds of years and now people are trying to force us to take a massive step backwards.

Lack of personal transportation will force people to live in overcrowded ghettos, since public transport is not profitable/practical without a high population...

This news is ancient and out of date! (1)

pieterbos (2218218) | more than 3 years ago | (#37078068)

This plan is actually very old, from 2001. They tried again in 2005, then again somewhere in 2009/2010. The plan is discarded by the current government. One of the few good things they have done in my opinion. The road trail the article cites is from february 2010. Over one and half year old.

The plan would be a horribly complex technical solution, just to solve the problem of being able to buy gas in another country and charging more for busy roads during peak hours. Also, the plan was a major privacy concern because you would have to be tracked continually.

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