Worried about increasingly efficient cars and dwindling tax revenue at the pump, Dutch lawmakers approved the first “pay-as-you-drive” tax system in Europe. Of course, the dwindling revenue is not the official reason given. The official intent is “to protect the climate and to reduce traffic jams,” reports the Deutsche Welle. Now who can be against noble causes such as those?
Nobody even mentions gasoline taxes, the legalized form of highway robbery in Europe. The pay-as-you-drive system will replace the old system that taxes ownership. That will go. The fuel tax remains. Dutch citizens are taxed twice. At the pump and by the kilometer.
Beginning in 2012, Dutch motorists will pay approximately 3 Euro-Cent per driven kilometer, until 2018, the amount will rise to 6.7 Cent. The actual costs vary according to size and engine of the car. A Renault Twingo will cost you 1.4 Cent per km, an Audi A8 will get the Dutch government 16.6 Cent per klick.
And how will the government know?
You guessed it: Each car will be fitted with a GPS system. The initial cost for the gizmo will be born by the government, later, the box will most likely be mandated. Whether the Dutchman or Dutchwoman drives from Utrecht to Amsterdam, or on vacation from Pisa to Paris, the black box will report the driven distance, and the money is deducted from their bank accounts. Drive that A8 from Amsterdam to Naples, Italy, on vacation, and when you are back, $1000 will be no longer in your bank account.
And what about big brother? Can the Dutch police check where everybody has driven? Can speeding tickets be charged automatically to the bank account, as the GPS system calculates the speed at all times? Sure they can, but of course they won’t. Supposedly. The Dutch government swears on a stack of bibles that “only the distance driven” will be recorded. “We are not interested in where you haven been,” say a government spokesman. Comment of the Handelsblatt: “The Dutch may believe that or not.”
The Netherlands is for Europe what California is for the US: A liberal state that sets the example, be it legalization of dope or strict anti-immigration laws. The rest of Europe is looking with high interest to the Netherlands. Any additional income, and any excuse to have real-time records of the whereabouts of their citizenry will be welcome. Strictly in the interest of climate protection, of course.