By on June 10, 2013

 

 

“Hybrid and electric cars are sparing the environment. Critics say they’re hurting the roads,” writes Bloomberg. “The popularity of these fuel-efficient vehicles is being blamed for a drop in gasoline taxes that pay for local highway and bridge maintenance, with three states enacting rules to make up the losses with added fees on the cars and at least five others weighing similar legislation.”

According to Arizona state Senator Steve Farley, a Democrat who wrote a bill to tax electric cars, “the intent is that people who use the roads pay for them. Just because we have somebody who is getting out of doing it because they have an alternative form of fuel, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay for the roads.

State and local gas-tax revenue has declined every year since 2004, falling 7 percent to $37.9 billion in 2010, this according to inflation-adjusted data from the allegedly nonpartisan research group. Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

That, however, is not the fault of hybrids and EVs. The market share of hybrids is pretty much stuck at around 3 percent, Hybridcars says. The market share of electric vehicles, which generate no gas tax at all, is close to unobservable, pure EVs and plug-ins together hold half a percent of the American pie.

What is true is that sales-weighted MPG of all new automobiles bought and sold in the U.S. os steadily going up. In October 2007, the index stood at 24.7 MPG. In May, all cars sold had an average CAFE rating of 30 MPG.

This is declared national policy, and automakers are working hard to meet the policy. State tax revenue becomes collateral damage.

Farley’s proposed anti-EV tax is a mileage tax. His bill wants one cent per mile driven on Arizona highways by “a vehicle that is propelled by a motor that is powered by electrical energy from rechargeable batteries or another source on the vehicle or from an external source in, on or above the street and that is not capable of being powered by motor vehicle fuel or use fuel.”

/p>
Of course, it is highly unfair to levy a mileage tax on a plug-in only. When the systems are in place to track the handful of plug-in in Arizona, and which most likely will cost more than the tax it generates, a mileage tax for all cars is sure to follow.

In New Jersey, Democratic State Senator Jim Whelan proposed a similar bill to tax cars by mile driven. The cars would be tracked by GPS. Facing criticism, he now proposes that “owners of alternative-fuel vehicles would be charged an annual fee – about $50 per year, though that is not final” as The Atlantic City Press says.

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109 Comments on “The Mileage Tax Cometh: The State Giveth, The State Taketh Away...”


  • avatar
    BigOlds

    Nobody likes the idea of GPS monitoring, including me. Unfortunately, most taxpayers are pretty dumb, and don’t even realize that today, in the US, the gas tax does not cover the full costs of the infrastructure, and freak out about ANY increase in taxes, even though the gas tax was inadequate even before the shift towards greater fuel efficiency. And by inadequate, I mean that funds have to be allocated from other tax sources just to cover the infrastructure costs.

    Given that environment, a per mile approach my be the only way, especially for those who don’t fill up at a pump. Should they not have to cover their share of the road usage?

    Despite the rhetoric, nobody likes taxes, including Democrats. But I am sick of people thinking they can have everything without paying for it. It’s what got us to where we are now.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The wear and tear on the roads caused by cars is insignificant compared to semi-trucks. If we want to get creative about taxation for infastructure repair, maintinence, and creation, vehicle weight is just as important as miles driven. Many commercial trucks already have GPS units in them, so it would be easier to start there.

      The biggest fear I have about going to a per mile system is gas prices not actually going down. Will states remove the gas tax? Will prices remain unchanged even if a gas tax goes away.

      I like use taxes, but how to carry this one out is complicated. Perhaps an odometer check at the time of renewing your tabs?

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        In Ohio, you can renew your registration by mail. You don’t have to do yearly inspections, so you don’t have to physically take your vehicle anywhere to keep it on the road. How do you keep tabs on mileage if the government never sees your vehicle? Honor system?

        In WV, it wouldn’t be a problem because you are required to get a yearly inspection. Then again, some of the things I’ve seen on the road with an inspection sticker makes me think that fraud would run rampant for odometer readings.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Michigan and Arizona are the same way. I renewed my tabs online this year. Arizona may have inspections for older vehicles, but I know Michigan does not.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        Urban areas that require emissions inspections and states that require regular safety inspections can record mileage at the time of inspection. Vehicles not tracked via scheduled inspection will eventually be sold or junked and a mileage figure can be gathered at the point that the title is amended. Owners who’ve been under-reporting mileage when renewing their tags can be made to pay up at that point.

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      I agree that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but seeing GPS tracking as the only option is taking an unnecessarily narrow view.

      Why not consider other options?
      There are things like:
      -reducing government spending
      -adding tolls to new roads under construction
      -taxing road use electricity
      -taxing electric infrastructure
      -increasing registration fees

      that can be done to handle the issue.

    • 0 avatar
      Reino

      ‘Infrastructure costs’ my ass. Have you ever watched a road construction crew? Half of the guys are just standing around, talking. The gas tax would cover construction costs IF the government officials who award the contracts actually did their due diligence and negotiated competitive contracts. But as long as the primary goal of road construction (as stated by all levels of government) is to ‘create jobs’ and not ‘get maximum value for taxpayers’, we will continue to waste money on these projects.

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      I’m sick of people who don’t read the US Constitution.

      The US road infrastructure is one of the few enumerated powers/responsibilities of Congress in Article 1 Section 8 Clause 7. After WWII, when we got a good look at the autobahn and its capabilities, the US legislature and the populace decided roads should be funded as a matter of national defense as well.

      People are not asking for “everything”. They are asking for our incompetent politicians at the state and federal level to fund one of the most critical services in the US economy instead of funding frivolity and political earmarks. Excise tax is a method for funding regulatory agency costs (hence per unit tax not ad valorem), not a method for funding a vital national/state service. Mileage taxes are not appropriate for funding roads b/c they focus the costs too narrowly.

      The problem is not people who don’t want to pay additional tax. The problem is that you have not bothered to take a gander at the founding documents. Over time, legislators spend money on everything but their enumerated responsibilities.

  • avatar
    cwallace

    My only heartburn with this is tracking cars by GPS to determine how many miles they drive. Every car and motorcycle has to pass some kind of state inspection, so take an odometer reading. Done. You don’t have to know where a vehicle has been to determine how many miles it has traveled over a period of time.

    Besides, why would the government even want that data? I mean, it’s not like they would ever retain details of your driving patterns in a giant database. And they certainly wouldn’t use that data along with your phone activity, credit card transactions, and internet history to try and produce a predictive analysis of what you may or may not be thinking of doing, right? Like, which party you might vote for, for example, or a charity to which you might contribute?

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Of course not, if they were, they would be building a huge data center in Utah to house it…wait; they are.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utah_Data_Center

    • 0 avatar

      “Every car and motorcycle has to pass some kind of state inspection”

      Illinois cars don’t for the first year or two. My motorcycle doesn’t have an inspection, EVER. Not even emissions.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Not every state even has any sort of inspection. And even those who do, like Maine, have exceptions. Three of my cars are registered as Antiques, and thus are inspection exempt.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          We have that here in PA too, antique is 25 years or older and is inspection and emissions exempt. I have it from my insurance agent the policies on antique registered, but not classic (15 year) registered cars, are extremely cheap.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “… so take an odometer reading. Done.”

      Not all mileage is racked up on public roads though.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      The problem with the odometer reading is that you have no idea where those miles were driven. If I fill up my tank at a gas station in Flagstaff, that entire tank will be used within 300 or so miles of that gas station. If you inspect my car once a year and find that I’ve driven 15,000 miles, you have no idea if I’ve been tooling around the neighborhood or doing laps between New York and Seattle.

      That said, I have no desire to see the government – state or federal – LoJack my car. They don’t have the greatest record on citizen privacy of late.

      • 0 avatar
        cwallace

        These are all good points gentlemen, I hadn’t considered the issue of which jurisdiction saw the road use.

        If it’s a federal tax, does it matter beyond which state the vehicle resides in?

        Privacy issues aside, it would be easier to have each vehicle logged each year instead of physically tracking it. The infrastructure is in place already.

        Also, does anyone know if motorcycles have computers that can spit out data akin to an OBD II system? The added benefit of requiring GPS may be to get non-compatible vehicles off the road, like my pre-OBD Datsun pickup and the ancient motor scooters I haul with it.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          It would be easier for states to get all the milage tax for those vehicles registered in their state. Via a yearly odometer check is probably the cheapest way. I don’t know the legalities or how it would be implemented.

      • 0 avatar
        Amendment X

        @Astigmatism

        This is a good point. But what do we make of today’s tax situation, where gasoline purchases fund roadway construction, even if that gasoline does not fuel a road-bound vehicle?

        The guy who uses his gasoline-powered lawnmower in his yard is paying X dollars in highway taxes for every mile of use, even though the machine never operates outside the confines of private property. That doesn’t seem fair to me.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    The reason gas tax revenues have dropped is not because of EVs or hybrids. The general push toward more fuel efficient vehicles has caused this. My mom went from a 19mpg observed Explorer (previous gen) to a 28mpg observed Rav4. My dad went from a 15mpg observed F250 to a 20mpg observed Tacoma. People are downsizing to smaller cars and embracing the CUV that gives them SUV space and near-sedan fuel economy. How many ex-Suburban drivers are now in Traverses? I bet nearly every one that didn’t tow with their Suburban.

    Just like all of our other budget issues, our government is going after something that simply isn’t large enough scale to make a difference, but it looks good to their base. These idiots need to learn what a pareto chart is. Figure out what causes the most damage to the roads (weight, qty of miles, accel/decel, speed, type of tires, etc) and figure out a way to reduce that damage or pay for the damage relative to how it is caused. The road damage done by EVs and hybrids is just noise because there simply aren’t enough out there doing enough mileage to have any impact.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I agree. Going from 15 MPG to 25 MPG is much more significant than going from 35 MPG to 45 MPG. The statistically insignificant number of EVs and PHEVs doesn’t change a state’s revenue via gas tax at all. Its F-150, Silvarado, and Ram owners going from 13 MPG combined to 20 MPG combined.

      • 0 avatar

        My daily driver averages almost 23mpg mixed, and then I got a motorcycle. Average is 45mpg.

        Am looking at a more relaxed Mpg oriented bike at 65mpg.

        I agree with you –> when I get 50%+ better gas mileage I start taking notice.

        Going from 35->40mpg doesn’t mean squat unless you are a taxi or doing a very significant number of miles.

  • avatar

    I think that only any Government be it US or Canada or any Province or State they like to take from the Taxpayer in Road Taxes, they never think how much Money they waste everyday, it’s far easier to take from all of us.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Less tax dollars need to be spent on social programs, and more on the infrastructure. This is the problem, period. I liked VA’s plan to slightly raise the sales tax (and I mean slightly) to go to infrastructure cost. Of course, people freaked out, mainly people who said it wasn’t fair for those who didn’t own a car to pay for the roads. Well, even if you don’t own a car, unless you’re completely self-sufficient and grow your own food, make your own clothes, etc. you rely on transportation to provide you with the goods you need.

    Infrastructure benefits 99.99999% of the population; in someway or another. We should all have to pay for it, and most of us do (and some of us far more than others no less). The problem is the money gets wasted on a few instead of the many.

    • 0 avatar
      LuciferV8

      Agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      onyxtape

      “Infrastructure benefits 99.99999% of the population”.

      I’m wracking my brain thinking of a single person in the United States who doesn’t benefit from infrastructure spending.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      Yeah… about 3% of the federal budget goes towards infrastructure, while defense gets 19% and old people somewhere around 30% (very very roughly, depending on what you include – I did try to exclude the parts of Social Security and Medicare that don’t go to retirees). I see the point of taking care of our retirees, but it’s money that doesn’t go towards building up the nation’s future.

  • avatar
    morbo

    I grew up 5 blocks from Jim Whelan in AC. He was my (excellent) mayor for many years before the local thugs sniped him in the Democrat primary. Me thinks there’s more to him authoring this bill then being a typical dumb politician.

    For decades South jersey (and Atlantic County particularly) was ignored by Trenton when it came time for road projects. Our bridges and roads crumbled while North jersey hoovered up all the construction dollars. In no small part thanks to Jim Whelan, he got the state to spend those dollars on South jersey, Expressway bridge rebuild, Route 40 bridge rebuild, Route 30 rebuild, Route 52 bridge rebuild, 3rd Parkway lane, and others.

    Mayors in North Jersey towns accustomed to the largresse and political favors they could bestow were upset that they weren’t getting easy construction jobs to give to their crooked connections. they actually sued Atlantic City (Piscataway’s mayor specifically), for no reason other then to make AC’s (and Jim Whelan’s) life miserable.

    I think this EV tax, in this NJ case, is a little payback. South Jersey doesn’t buy hybrids or EVs. North Jersey loves them. Whelan is making life a little harder for those that made his life harder.

    • 0 avatar
      Lynchenstein

      I sure hope that’s not the real reason.

    • 0 avatar
      seth1065

      And welcome to NJ politics , as a driver who drives a lot 35,000 plus a year i would not like this, i pay over $400 a month crossing our lovely NY/NJ bridges where your toll dollars go to die, and the bridge / tunnels still suck most of the toll $$$ goes to mass transit trains, and those lovely pensions if the gov could not borrow the ” mile tax” than maybe I could live with it but I been told that once the bridges are paid for the tolls would come off and that never happened, so I have zero faith more of my money would go to fix the roads.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    Arizona only charges 18 cents per gallon for gas tax. Here in Texas, it’s 20. Filling up my a tank on my Mazda 3 pays the state about $2.60. By my incredible math skills, I determined a 1 cent per mile tax would be about $3.25 a tank. Seems to equalize the tax burden, but lessens the tax benefits of fuel efficiency, which admittedly are pretty low anyway.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    Given what’s been in the papers over the last couple of weeks, this seems to be the wrong time to give the government the real-time position of every car in the country.

    Worried about wear and tear to roads? They have these amazing things called “tolls”, and nowadays you don’t even need to slow down to pay them. Worried about declining revenues from gas taxes to pay for damage to local roads? Raise the gas tax, or use zone-based tolling a la congestion charges in Europe. Taxing hybrids and EVs because they use less of something that we want people to use less of is the height of stupidity.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      Tolls don’t really work either if you are looking at a true use tax. Why does the Chevy Spark pay the same $3.00 through the WV turnpike that the Chevy 3500 hauling a 30′ camper? The truck itself is almost 3x the weight of the Spark!

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Some places, like Oklahoma, do it by axels. It still doesn’t acurately reflect the comparative stress put on the roads by a given vehicle. I could tow my 16″ Hobie Cat with my Focus and pay the same rate as a F-250 towing a 22″ power boat.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Yes, this. Most turnpikes charge different rates for different vehicles based on classifications or axle count.

          Ideally, an electronic toll system that charges based on max GVWR as registered would be ideal.

    • 0 avatar
      ClutchCarGo

      If you’re not slowing down to pay tolls you’re giving the govt nearly as much info as a GPS recorder would give them. My problem isn’t that the info is gathered, just that the info isn’t protected from casual review by anyone who asks. Require a judge’s warrant to access any vehicle travel info like tolls or GPS info beyond mileage figures and I’ll buy into it.

  • avatar

    In the last few years:

    My state income tax has gone up +67%
    My daily tollway tax has gone up ~ +87%
    and my property tax has gone up +20%

    I’m actually WILLING to pay an additional gas tax if it will help the state out, but when they STILL have $100B in unfunded pension liabilities, multiple governors are in jail & ‘road funds’ get raided for everything since IL is so broke, what good will it actually do except postpone the inevitable?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Yuck. Hey, look on the bright side; at least your state’s largest city isn’t bankrupt. Detroit is getting ready to possibly shed cultural assets that were kept open due to tri-county milages. Milages that were overwhelingly passed. Maybe Detroit can sell the whole damn city to Dan Gilbert.

      • 0 avatar

        On the other hand the largest city sold ownership of all the parking meters for 75 years to a private company to plug a budget hole for 1 year.

        *sighs*

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I forgot about that. Didn’t rates double overnight? Couldn’t they have just raised parking rates for a year or two until the budget gap was closed?

          • 0 avatar
            Geekcarlover

            “Raise rates for a year or two”? And you’d actually trust them to lower the rates at the end of whatever period they agreed to? Here in Gainesville/Alachua Co FL we’ve had an extra gas tax to pay for infrastructure upgrades for the past 7 years. It wasn’t popular, but needed. Unfortunately the county pissed away the money on pet projects or to offset shortfalls elsewhere. Now they want to extend the tax by, I believe, 17 years. An of course they promise to spend it correctly this time.
            I don’t mind paying extra to get extra, or even just to keep things going. But our, like most, governments have proven they can’t be trusted with what they have, much less giving them more.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Geekcarlover-

            No, I don’t trust them to lower the rates. Just like the Metro Detroit area approved a temporay milage increase for the Detroit Institute of Arts. I doubt that we will ever see that go away.

            But Chicago sold off an asset that brings revenue in everyday. There had to be a better way.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            “There had to be a better way.”

            Follow the money. Who got that contract? What connections did they have with Daley? The answer lies there.

        • 0 avatar
          Rick T.

          We voted with out feet and got the hell out about a year ago. That was one of the last straws. Not so much for what it was but for the mindset.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            We need to all get used to that new mindset. It’s going to be the way of the future even though much of the tax money collected in this manner will never be used for what it was intended for.

            In all states, if you register a vehicle, any vehicle, the registration already includes a hefty amount intended for the maintenance of the roadways, whether you drive that car or not.

            An additional tax based on actual miles driven is just another tax on the people living in that state and does nothing to tax the people using that state as a transit route, which millions upon millions do each year.

            A lot of people are voting with their feet. Many come to New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas where some sanity still prevails.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You must be from Illinois.

    • 0 avatar
      Carl Kolchak

      I’m a native Chicagoan, now living in MN. I am amazed how “Car unfriendly” the City of Chicago has become. Here is someone to tax: Bicyclists. they are getting large swaths of the road and are paying nothing. what about a small ” Bike tax” of $10-20 a year to pay for the bike paths and especially the bike lanes.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I don’t need no stinkin PAVED roads!

    But seriously it would help if they stopped constructing new roads/bridges that save 5 minutes, that only benefit a small amount of people working or living in the general vicinity.
    They just built a bridge about 30 miles away that cost well over 50 million, for a mile long stretch of road, the alternate route taking the driver about 5 minutes out of the way, not to mention the bridge isn’t even in a high traffic area.

    Of course bad roads must be a problem elsewhere in the country, North Carolina roads are in excellent shape.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Mm, pork. Delicious…

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      It’s an open secret that when you build a road, the world builds up around it. Just look at the ground the next time you take a flight and come in for a night landing. where there are roads, industry happens.
      Downside to this is that many of the most vital roads are closing in on 100 years old, and they’re too small for the world that grew up around them. The rights of way for the road are all used up, and taking frontage from prosperous buisnesses usually isn’t cheap and it’s never popular with the public or the press. The next-best soluton then becomes to build a bypass, which (sometimes) is a slightly lesser evil.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    This “infrastructure costs money, and those who use the roads should pay for them” argument, while valid in principle but only to an extent, is a great reason to seriously, I mean seriously, address the shortcomings of the flying car.

    Yes, I realize there are major technological and driver competency concerns orbiting this subject, but the same held true for the road car a century ago, and “People suck at driving and you can’t pull over if your engine dies” aren’t valid reasons not to try.

    Even if we arranged flying cars and trucks into “roads” the way airliners now travel, those “roads” could be stacked, alleviating congestion, even in cities.

    And the best part – without road traffic, there’d be no need for a maintenance- and capital-intensive road network.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    If the problem is hybrids and EVs not paying their fair share how about we stop subsidizing them rather than using them as an excuse to monitor every one in the country’s movements?

    And, what kind of world do we live in if a legislature would even consider this over a simple gas tax increase? Why isn’t the press more interested in the real reasons for these proposals?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I find it funny that a state Senator from AZ wants to tax EVs and Hybrids. Just a few years ago AZ had the most generous state subsidies for alternative fuel vehicles. They also incentivize EVs and Hybrids by giving them access to car pool lanes in the Phoenix area.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Refresh my memory, if you would, on two points.

      1 – Why do posters on automotive forums constantly demand increases in the gas tax?

      2 – What’s with the stereotype of forum posters wanting a six-speed diesel wagon?

      This isn’t an attack. I’m legitimately looking for an answer.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        1 – Because increasing the gas tax is the most simple solution to adding revenue to infastructure funding in most states. If its the alternative to having the State of Michigan put a GPS in my car I’ll take it. I’m not saying I want my gas tax to go up, I just understand why people suggest it.

        2 – Because auto enthusiasts always want something they can’t have. Brown six-speed diesel wagon, rear wheel drive anything, V8 family cars, stick shift minivan, etc. Here, we all tend to see the car as something besides just basic transportation. Panther Love FTW.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Yes! The simplest solution is to make small increases in existing taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel to compensate for improved fuel efficiency and inflation. In addition, it would be relatively simple to make the annual registration fee proportional to vehicle weight. EVs would then pay a little more due to battery weight.

      I would go one step further and turn the problem of building and maintaining highways to the 50 separate states with each state free to determine how to pay for its roads with some combination of fuel taxes, registration fees, and direct tolls.

      • 0 avatar
        doctor olds

        In Michigan, the annual vehicle license fee was once based on vehicle weight. As cars got much lighter in the late ’70’s, the argument was made: since older, heavier cars were typically owned by a lower socioeconomic segment of population,it amounted to unfair, regressive taxation. Michigan changed to an original MSRP price class method of determining a vehicle’s annual license fee. It was popular among the “make the rich pay their fair share” crowd.

        Similarly, higher gas taxes will penalize the segment of society with older, less efficient cars, again a regressive tax in similar sense. That is part of the political perspective. Perhaps some form of tax break could be created for lower income people to offset the higher gas tax?

        As an auto man, and free marketer, I like gas tax because it brings a market function to bear on fuel efficiency rather than CAFE, with its disruption. The ideal would be just letting makers focus on selling what customers want, rather than meeting a bureaucrat’s mandate.

        As a libertarian, I don’t like it, but recognize we have to fund the needs of society some how!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    In PA, the gas tax is 50.7 cents per gallon, and PA gets 32.3 cents of that.

    In my former 30 mpg car, I drove 10000 miles/year, generating $108 in revenue for PA.

    If I drive 9000/year in my EV, and pay another 1 cent per mile, I’ll generate about $90 in revenue for PA. My effective ‘fuel’ cost per mile will jump from 2.5 cents to 3.5 cents.

    For consistency, roads should be paid for via income taxes, since they benefit everybody. If we’re going to tax things based upon usage, then public school taxes should be eliminated.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I would gladly pay a mileage usage tax if public school taxes were eliminated and parents paid a tuition for *their* children. Never happen in PA, not until the local Democrats are jailed and state employee unions broken up as one side enables the other.

      • 0 avatar
        OneAlpha

        28, you bring up an interesting point.

        Where’s the justice in requiring people to pay school taxes when they don’t have kids, don’t have kids in school YET or don’t have kids in school ANYMORE?

        The road taxes – yeah, I’m okay with paying for roads, because I use roads. My acceptance of a road tax, however, is not a philosophical granting of carte blanche to The State to impose whatever tax it wants. Just wanted to make that clear.

        But school taxes? It’s not my responsibility to help raise other people’s children.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “For consistency, roads should be paid for via income taxes, since they benefit everybody.”

      The problem with that is the roads also benefit people who don’t pay income taxes. Those people still manage to roll from place to place in their hooptie of choice.

    • 0 avatar
      285exp

      So you want them to increase income taxes on everybody so you can avoid $90 a year in road tax to PA and $60 to the Feds? No, for consistency all vehicles that use public roads should pay taxes to help build and maintain them. There’s no reason you should be a free rider on the system or expect us to even further subsidize you beyond what we’ve already been soaked for.

      Electricity used to recharge EV’s should be taxed in the same way that gasoline or diesel is. It would be a simple matter for public charging stations and for home installed high voltage charging stations, just add the tax to the per KW amount and have a separate meter for the charging station. It would be more problematic for cars that could be charged via a plain old 110V outlet, though the slow recharge rates of those self limit the amount of untaxed electricity you could get. Taxing the electricity directly would also help keep the taxes within the state where the car is being driven, even though the limited range of EV’s makes that a pretty small problem.

      Eventually they’re going to have to either increase the highway taxes on gas and diesel too or start taxing by the mile, since the obvious result of fuel conservation is going to be a reduction in revenue produced per mile driven.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        “So you want them to increase income taxes on everybody so you can avoid $90 a year in road tax to PA and $60 to the Feds?”

        Not at all. I’m generally anti-tax, anti-subsidy. I’m merely pointing out an inconsistency.

        The difficulty with taxing mileage is one of privacy. A use tax for schools would at least be easier to manage since registration is a public matter.

        By the way, I think I already pay taxes on my EV’s electric use – to the utility. Why tax it again?

        • 0 avatar
          285exp

          A use tax for schools would never work, if we were dependent on people with minor children to pay for public schools they’d go broke. School funding is done through property taxes because education is considered a benefit to all in the community.

          The tax you pay on your electricity does not go to transportation. You don’t like the mileage tax because you’re concerned about your privacy. You don’t like a road tax on the electricity you put in your car because you are already taxed on it, even though none of it goes to transportation. What is your solution, other than getting a free ride or taxing other people?

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      While I agree with your sentiment on Public Schools and “paying for what you use”, the argument could be made that having subsidized basic education helps everyone, not just the children going to school.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        That’s the argument we hear for it, regardless of whether funding spent on such things delivers any results.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Indeed one could make such an argument. I would disagree with it though, as subsidizing “basic education” does not “help everyone” its simply a wealth transfer from the citizens in a region to state employee unions and education bureaucrats. Regions would be better served with local schools without governing districts, state employees, or school-specific taxes, essentially independent non-profits. The onus of responsibility for education of children should be put on the parents, not society. The parents are the folks with “skin in the game”.

        • 0 avatar
          doctor olds

          Educating the populous certainly does help everyone! If the means to do so is corrupt, dysfunctional or inefficient, that doesn’t negate the value of the goal.

          Think about the converse.

          Do you really want more voters who are uneducated with little employment opportunity?

          This is not really bleeding heart liberal, but a pragmatic argument.

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            It was ‘bleeding heart liberal’ LBJ that created all these dysfunctional people. It was to benefit his party, which is still a higher priority than people that can read, write, and tell the truth. The system works perfectly, if you understand its objectives. Was Jose Serrano a beneficiary of the Great Society? It might explain how he could have said that the IRS became an arm of the O***a election machine because it was inadequately funded on a day that people were discussing the $50,000,000 the IRS spent on office parties.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Good points. Voters from what I can see already are quite uneducated en-masse, and due to various circumstances beyond their control, will continue to have slim employment prospects moving forward.

            Solving the above two problems will take decades, assuming we as a nation really want to make the tough choices to solve them… because applying critical thinking skills to solving the problems includes a healthy questioning of the political and elite classes who caused/contributed to the issues in the first place.

            I would argue education is important but the way its being done in the US isn’t working and hasn’t worked well in thirty plus years. We have to rethink pre-college education, tear it down, and rebuild it from the ground up and be sure to exclude everything that failed. But sure there will always be those who fall through the cracks, so what do we do? These folks today usually end up in revolving door jails and rehab centers courtesy of dot gov, and that’s if they don’t turn into felons. Sure, sad, but zeroing on on these outliers is putting the cart before the horse. You begin with a revamp of the education system, and perhaps use general assessment at a grade school/high school level to identify and place these troubled students into vocational programs or the military. You can’t save everyone nor should you try, but everyone should be held accountable from parents, to students, and school faculty. So if kids that come from homes are lacking in values or parenting, perhaps the parents themselves can be held accountable in some lawful way. It’s sad that we as a society allow others to create human beings and then abandon them without recourse.

            “I submit we all benefit by giving on-fortunate children a leg up to succeed and add to society, rather than be a burden”

            To this I submit, if you give a mouse a cookie, what happens?

            Earning something on merit will do more for America’s youth than any token scholarship, affirmative action, or any other leg up over someone else.

          • 0 avatar
            doctor olds

            I agree with you both on the unintended consequences of “good hearted” liberal policies and their damage to our society.

            I am not talking of giving a man a fish, I am talking of teaching him to fish.

            Education at the community level to provide basic skills and knowledge is in our interest. I am talking about funding public education, not promoting unmarried motherhood and dependence on government with handouts.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Who trusts government to do the right thing with more information, more oversight and more overhead to produce a desired outcome, in this case, better roads and bridges? Anyone? Anyone at all?
    We have a very imperfect system of funding roads; for example, we subsidize the outsized damage caused by heavy vehicles. With EVs at 0.5% of sales, just go ahead and tax them based on past annual miles for the amount that the state would pick up from a car getting the current overall CAFE average. Still very imperfect, but very simple and no less fair than what goes on now wrt heavy vehicles or EVs getting off ‘scot-free’. It will make almost no difference in overall revenue so sooner or later the voters will have to do what it takes to get the government they want rather than the government their voting record deserves.

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      uh, the government has been doing a fairly bang-up of maintaining roads and bridges for the past 100+ years. they’ve also been doing for less and less money every year (the federal gas tax hasn’t budged from about $0.18/gallon for t-w-e-n-t-y years). Many of the people you don’t trust have taken foregone raises for the past 5 years or even taken outright paycuts just to make sure that roads and bridges don’t fall down around your ears. A lot of these government workers have degrees in engineering with professional certifications and could literally make 2X as much on the private engineering side, and yes, I’m including their pensions (If they actually have any money to pay them from the unfunded pension plans).

      It’s rare that I defend government, but on this issue, bite your tongue; you’re paying about $0.01/mile to use a road that gets lit, plowed, paved, improved, and replaced on regular basis, all so you don’t worry abuot dying or even spill your coffee.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        What of that has anything to do with chuckrs point? Did you post in the wrong spot? Besides that, those employees you speak of on average couldn’t do better in the free market so it’s a terrible point. Sure, many are overworked and underpaid, but the majority are not they took a pay freeze because either they are overpaid, most, or because they like their jobs even though they have much better opportunities, few. Lastly, the saved money was wasted because legislators can’t do the hard parts of their jobs.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Yes, most dyed in the wool leftists/Democrats, and the Republicans when they hold the levers of power believe this as well.

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    In Ontario Canada, the governing Liberal party has been involved in countless scandals where they have wasted literally billions of dollars. (The most recent example being them cancelling 2 gas fired power plants to save a couple seats in the last election at a cost of $585,000,000) They are also chronic overspenders. I have no sympathy for governments that will waste billions then claim they need to raise taxes/fees to pay for an essential service. They would have had a lot more money for roads and transit if they hadn’t wasted it on scandals or overspending. We pay plenty of taxes, governments just need to manage their money responsibly. Once they do that if there still isn’t enough money, THEN we can talk about more revenue.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Agree 200%. Have you heard the latest about Toronto wanting the Province to fund transit improvements for their city, possibly by increasing taxes on fuel? Toronto being the Liberal stronghold that got them elected, it wouldn’t surprise me if they somehow rammed this proposal through.

      Toronto can pay for their own trains and buses, thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        This is in a similar vein to what happens here in the States. The Democrats/Communists seize power in the large cities by means of the collecting the votes of the downtrodden city dwellers, and then leverage their position against the regional government. This works about 50% of the time for them here.

    • 0 avatar
      OneAlpha

      Zero sympathy. My thoughts exactly.

      Liberals down here in the Lower 48 get off on wasting tax money on DMV bureaucrats, research projects studying lesbian sea turtles and that favorite old standby, buying votes from the riff raff.

      But after that spending spree of grotesquery, there’s no money for things like national infrastructure, which you can actually make a philosophical case for government involvement in.

  • avatar
    TW4

    I have the best idea ever.

    First, we will imagine that the benefits of roads are confined entirely to drivers and that the economic benefits and costs are somehow closely correlated to vehicle miles traveled. Then we will elect a bunch of politicians who refuse to fund our roads, one of the most critical government expenditures, without raising taxes. Then we will institute a per-mile-user-fee which has two ulterior motives 1) spy on the populace 2) allow pollution regulations and paralyzing fear of Jevon’s paradox to dictate all transportation policy.

    Isn’t that the best idea ever?!

  • avatar
    lon888

    If some state decides to start tracking mileage by GPS, I foresee a large market for “GPS signal blockers”. Available on ebay via China…

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    You don’t need to tax via GPS to make it fair. A pointed out a GPS and odo readings leave room for tampering and fraud.

    Fuel tax is the fairest and easiest to employ.

    You weigh more or have a larger engine you pay more. This is totally fair and even. Even with big rigs and little bikes.

    But the above article on pickup sales will drop and the Big 3 who are dependent on these vehicles would cry foul.

    • 0 avatar
      Sundowner

      no it’s not. more and more cars are available that don’t use gas. the best of these are just about complete replacements for gas cars (Volts and Teslas come to mind). Ignoring these cars, or ignoring that the best fuel economy can be had from the newest cars, you get into a situation where fuel taxes will become a tax that only the poorest have to pay.

      What is most likely is that there will be a user pay system enacted. we will all likely have E-ZPass tags or they will jsut be built in as RFID tags in our already government issued plates. You will get billed every time you roll over or under an RFID tag reader. These readers are getting cheaper by the day, as are realtime WiMax mesh networks.

      No one is going to track you. for the few pennies that they will collect for every mile you drive, it’s just not worth the effort. Don’t overestimate your value as a citizen.

      And really? as far as tracking you goes, you have more to worry about everytime you go to Target and they track and profile all your purchases everytime you shake your Visa card. They really ARE following you, and you still use your credit card all the time, right? Get over it.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        One of the problems with using miles driven is that it doesn’t reflect the weight of the car. Charging a Spark and Silvarado 3500 towing a six horse trailer the same per mile doesn’t make sense.

        • 0 avatar
          Toad

          Why should the Silverado with the trailer pay more than the Chevy Spark? Arguably they are both enjoying the same benefit, and the pickup does not do any more damage to the road than the Spark.

          Both vehicles require the same asphalt, same police patrols, same snow/debris removal, same interchanges,same lighting, same land acquisition, same bureaucrats, etc.

          A road built and operated for a Spark does not cost less to build and operate than the road used by a pickup. So why should one pay more than the other?

          By the same token, commercial trucks do require roads to be built to heavier duty specifications, but they also pay much high fuel taxes, annual road use taxes, property taxes, and Federal Excise taxes on the vehicle itself when new as well as some truck parts.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Toad, if we are getting rid of the gas tax and replacing it with something like a use tax, the weight of a vehicle is significant. Right now, heavier vehicles typically pay more gas tax because they typically use more gas.

            Heavier vehicles break down the roads faster. Everytime they shut down a freeway for construction in the Detroit area, the parallel service drives get beat up by the heavy trucks. Those typically need to be redone after the freeways. Since the gas tax states levy is supposed to be used for road maintinence, anything that replaces it should have a GVWR component.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’m not up on the exact regulation, but I believed 1 tons and up have some kind of additional registration fees in PA based on the GVW, which is in effect a tax. The reg fees here are $36, I think for the 1 ton is something like $200.

          • 0 avatar
            Sundowner

            partially agree. private or evel light commercial vehicles do not wreck roads anywhere near as much as heavy commercial trucks. A loaded diesel pickup might gross out at around 12k lbs when packed to the gills. A single wheel on a container truck can weigh that much. And they have a lot of wheels. We’ve clocked average truck weights on heavy highways at better than 150k lbs. these are the trucks that literally make the bridges scream, and there’s more of them than you’d think.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Sundowner
        Then tax tyres according to a scale ie, ply rating, load capacity width etc.

      • 0 avatar
        Landcrusher

        Sun,
        None of these schemes is better than the simple one we have. Before considering any of them, you would need to have a real problem. At least bigger than the loss in efficiency of the present scheme compared to the new one. What point in losing 10% to collection costs to get a 3% lost revenues? Also, They DO keep the tracking data now. It’s too cheap to collect not to do it. Collect at the pump. If you put a pump in your home, then you can put a meter on it.

        • 0 avatar
          Sundowner

          the one we have now is likely going to go away sooner or later, and even it its current form, is unfair for anyone who uses a toll road and effectively gets double-taxed on their gas as well. Toll roads are becoming incredibly popular, and they should. They are one of the very few taxes that you can elect to pay.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    Road tax my butt. When I had my old Integra I paid about $56 annually for excise tax. When I bought my Subaru 1.5 years ago I paid $450 or so next time around. Did the roads become a lot better? Did I drive my car 9x more than before? Nope, the roads are still awful in Boston and my mileage is only slightly higher than before. Greedy Taxachusetts ate my money and I hope they choke on it.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Big Dig sealed your fate. Downtown Boston is nicer now, but I don’t know if it was worth the price. Most city of Boston residents I know say yes, those who live in the suburbs say no.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Perhaps the sales taxes that are already collected on vehicle transactions should be directly applied to road maintenance. The same vehicle is taxed over and over again at it’s supposed retail value when it changes hands throughout it’s life. Just throwing that out there, feel free to pick it apart.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Why can’t we just tax alternative fuels at a fair rate? All new electric cars use smart chargers. Why can’t the car tell the smart charger how many miles it traveled on it’s last charge? This information would then be forwarded to your utility (using smart meters… they’r coming whether you like it or not) and it will show up as a line item on your power bill. The location that you charge at determines which state/jurisdiction gets the money. Simple, fair, and not intrusive like GPS.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Taxing / mile and targeting EV’s would probably hurt the EV industry quite badly, I thought the Democrats were trying to get more EV’s out there so something does not make sense here. Is this the whole story?
    Where I live the roads are doing more damage to cars than cars to the roads because if the roads where in worse condition they would be un drivable to a normal car. It is a fact that poor roads lead to increased gas consumption through increased wear on cars.
    Improving rail infrastructure will get many of the semi trucks off the roads and ultimately vastly reduce road maintenance costs.
    Working public transport solutions will do the same for heavy congestion areas.
    There are too many questions and challenges around GPS tracking to take this seriously. It’s got a snowballs chance in hell of surviving.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    “State and local gas-tax revenue has declined every year since 2004, falling 7 percent to $37.9 billion in 2010″

    You know what would be a hoot? Someone pulling the data to show how that $37.9 billion collected in 2010 was spent.

    $20 and a tofu steak says more than half of that $37.9mm got taken up by ‘general fund allocations’ or some iteration thereof.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    Wow, this taxation thing is getting complicated.

    And it would only get worse if we try to figure out how to tax vehicles powered by CNG, H2, ethanol, gasoline diesel, electricity, or some combination of these. Or how exactly would we obtain vehicle miles driven in states that have inspection requirements? GPS monitoring seems intrusive.

    What about removing ALL taxes from fuels of any type, and consider just an “Infrastructure” tax as part of income taxes (both Federal and State), on the assumption that (like school taxes), everyone benefits any way. Trucking companies would pay a higher corporate tax rate, since trucks “damage” infrastructure more than cars (reportedly). Wouldn’t that simplify things while still being able to have enough funds for our roads and bridges?

    Sometimes I think we (USA) bend over backwards to try to be fair down to the last dime in our tax code, to accommodate individual situations, and fail to look at the big picture….

    —————-


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