Would You Prefer to Pay By the Mile?

Odometer As more fuel-efficient vehicles hit the roads in the coming years, the U.S. government will face a dwindling amount of money in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which funds the upkeep of the nation’s highways and bridges.

The money comes from the federal gas tax, which in the economic downturn has proven to be an incredibly poor choice of funding for the much needed maintenance of our national infrastructure. Looking forward, Congress and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood are kicking around the idea of a mileage tax to replace the gas tax. Basically, instead of paying a tax at the pump, you’d pay a tax on the number of miles you drive per year.

The mileage-tax idea raises a whole slew of concerns. For instance, would a Big Brother-style GPS system track everyone’s movements? Or would drivers have to go on the honor system as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) suggested? Would different vehicles be taxed at different rates, or would 12,000 miles in a fuel-efficient Ford Fusion Hybrid cost you the same amount of money as it would in a Hummer H2?

These questions make it surprising that the mileage tax has gained so much momentum in Washington, D.C. But with the volatility of gas prices and a gradual move away from traditional gas-powered vehicles, something has to be done to secure adequate funding for the nation’s infrastructure on a long-term basis.

Let us know what you think: Would you prefer to be taxed for the number of miles you drive each year or stick with the current system and pay a bit more at the pump?

Plan to Tax Mileage Vs. Gas Gaining Speed (Detroit Free Press)

By Stephen Markley | March 9, 2009 | Comments (22)
Tags: In The News

Comments 

H

Trucks are already tracked to ensure that the appropriate state gets their portion of tax for all miles driven in a particular state. I can see this happening for all roadgoing vehicles. My preference is to have one all-encompassing road use fee of some kind...keeps it simple and keeps the government from double-dipping on gas taxation and mileage tax and whatever else they try to squeeze out.

J

It seems to me that the gas tax is a better solution as it "solves" two problems in one go:
- Gives money to infrastructure
- Pushes towards more fuel-efficient vehicles

Adrian

This has to be one of the worst ideas I've ever heard! Did they even think about the effect this would have on low wage earners, commuters, and people taking vacations via their cars? Personally, I'd rather pay a higher price at the pump. Bad idea man. Bad! Bad! Bad!

Tony

This is crazy. If anything, tax must be done by combinaion of miles and fuel economy. Also, the weight of the vehicle could be included into the formula. But I am against any GPS devices. simply, because it is not cost effective. We already have DMV odometer reading program almost everywhere during registration times.

Uh hello, a mileage tax...really? How are you going to track that? Think about it. Think about how complex that's going to be. Then compare that against the ridiculously simple gas tax we have in place now. Mileage tax, as few have pointed out already, do nothing to discourage poor fuel economy or gasoline conservation. I am for a higher fuel tax* (*IF OTHER AUTOMOTIVE TAXES ARE REDUCED...pipe dream I know). Imagine if you all of your automobile fees (property tax, license fees, license plate and tag frees, etc) were all eliminated but replaced by a higher gasoline tax. Those that drove more (and used the infrastructure more) would pay more. Those that used more gasoline would pay even more (helping conservation and efforts to improve mileage standards). And all those really big trucks that do the most damage to the road infrastructure would pay more for their upkeep with a higher gas tax. I just don't understand how some people can't compute this... Unless they're driving hummers and escalades to make up for their other short comings (ya, you know its true)

While we're at it, why not tax bicyclists and pedestrians - they cross and use the same roads that drivers do, even if they don't cause wear and tear to the infrastructure. Because for the most part, it's these huge 18-wheelers damaging our infrastructure. If only we were to make the switch to use more freight rail, not only would it reduce the amount of wear and tear on our already crappy roads, and it would reduce (if not eliminate) the need for a proposition such as this. The gas tax would end up being enough.

Faced with declining gas tax revenues, the state of Oregon is test-driving an experimental Road User Fee Pilot Program. The program relies on GPS units in cars to record where the vehicles have been, then charges the drivers based on miles driven rather than gas consumed.
But what about privacy problems? Especially as this locates a vehicle very precisely and helps bridge the gap between various camera systems (that identify drivers) and vehicle movements (between cameras). In the US I can see this being very lucrative for state governments both through direct data sales and via the lawyers that will be paid to sue the information out of them.

DodgeFan

Now we all understand how cars beat rail in most the United States. No longer is government picking up the tab. Its on each of us as end users to pay for the infrastructure. I glad the state of Indiana is raising charges on trucks. I vote for higher gas taxes in the short-term. I do believe all levels of government involved with the roads need to do a better job of spending their money. Not spending too much!! As a taxpayer we will have to watch government in the future in concerns to roads. I for the one fee access ssystem.

06vwpassat

OK so what about the people that only travel 20 miles per day but in total gridlock. There fuel economy sucks. But I travel all highway and achieve 34 miles per gallon. I prob use less gas but travel more miles. Why should I be punished. Just raise the gas prices back up where they used to be and be done with it. I dont want another headache.

cody

personally, i think this little 'good idea' will die out soon. it's getting a lot of public feedback and none of it is good.

as i've said before, the gas tax should be raised. we have some of the lowest taxes on gas in the industrialized world, keeping our gas prices nice and low. i'm guessing the government is hoping that this additional tax will earn the type of revenue the realistic gas taxes earn for the rest of the world and that the american people will be too dumb to realize their paying more because they're paying in different places. politicians suck.

freethinker

The shortest "miles" route may actually be the least fuel efficient. For instance, 6 miles through a congested downtown area versus 12 miles along an outer-ring interstate loop.

This proposal also penalizes fuel-efficient cars, since everyone pays the same per mile.

Also, how many of you have driven a rental car or truck with pay-per-mile restrictions? It makes for a very anxious, nerve-wracking experience, constantly and obsessively watching the odometer. Then again, perhaps that's part of the point. An uncomfortable experience may be precisely intended by those, typically well-off themselves, who seek higher taxes as a means of social behavior modification.

Freethinker,
I think one of the points of this type of tax is that it will take into account new hybrids and electrics which will pay less at the pump/gas tax meaning there will be less $ to pay for road repair, which the alternative vehicles still use and theoretically damage.

Tony

Then you know, just put a federal road tax on everyone and don't tax trucks and drivers. This will be fair because:
-Even if you don't own a car, you still use goods which being delivered by trucks, or get the services, which use vehicles.
-Pedestrians use walkways that cost extra to build along the roads and are part of expense
-There are lots of places where majority of traffic are tourists, so it ias fair that thay pay, and not the local guys. for the roads they use.

This will make all pay a little toward OUR infrastructure instead of few paying for the road in reality used by all.

C

By common sense, taxation is an economic growth stopper.
When the economy is down, taxing the people is not going to bring back the economy. Anyone in the congress passed Econ 101?

Original sheth

This is preliminary at this point so people getting bent out of shape are wasting their time. You can rest assured that any such program would take years to implement and would include breaks for the poor and people using trucks for commercial purposes. I seriously doubt you would ever see a one price fits all system.

Six

Just raise the gas tax.

If they want to tax Volts and Hydrogen cars, then add devices to do that specifically for fueling/charging those vehicles. No reason the volt couldn't use a special charger that runs a meter for your road tax bill.

A flat rate per mile is silly and ignores the differences between vehicles. Would they apply this tax to motorcycles? Scooters? How is a Smart Car equivalent to a 3 axle truck?

BOB

Also, some people never have to go out in a car. If they live in a city near eveything they need, they can walk or bike. But what about those of us that have to drive 50 or 60 miles a day to go to work and school. How would that be fair to us, when there are people that only have to drive two or three miles? So, now we get penalized for taking a job with better pay that is farther away? We already get more tax on our paychecks, but now we pay more to drive there to! Also, we get taxed for not wanting to live in a city. If you want to raise your kids out in the country, well now you have to pay more because you live farther away from a town. Think about how much more damage this would cause to our already fragile economy.

johnnyt

NO!!!

Keith

Uh... how is it that the gas tax revenues are falling? Those are legislated as "cents per gallon", not as a percentage. So the only reason revenue has fallen off is because fuel consumption has decreased. Why? Because the miles driven has decreased! Duh!

Remember, Congress is the same bunch of idiots who once tried to legislate "pi = 3", and argued that Daylight Saving Time was bad because it would lead to more fading of curtain fabrics, and other complete absurdities. They are also the same idiots who are PLANNING to run larger budget deficits for FIVE years than any other year in history, so clearly they are not to be trusted with your money.

Keith

Addendum: This proposal to tax mileage rather than fuel is simply advance planning for the day you own a much more fuel-efficient vehicle, or an electric vehicle.

BN

I think states should reform their liscensing fee to tax vehicles based on
weight and fuel consumption

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App
Ask.cars.com