Uncle Sam Eyes Vehicle Tracking Tax

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper
uncle sam eyes vehicle tracking tax

A Member of Congress proposes to use taxpayer money to fund the development of technology to track motorists as part of a new form of taxation. US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) introduced H.R. 3311 earlier this year to appropriate $154,500,000 for research and study into the transition to a per-mile vehicle tax system. The “Road User Fee Pilot Project” would be administered by the US Treasury Department. This agency in turn would issue millions in taxpayer-backed grants to well-connected commercial manufacturers of tolling equipment to help develop the required technology. Within eighteen months of the measure’s passage, the department would file an initial report outlining the best methods for adopting the new federal transportation tax.

“Oregon has successfully tested a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee, and it is time to expand and test the VMT program across the country,” Blumenauer said in a statement on the bill’s introduction. “A VMT system can better assess fees based on use of our roads and bridges, as well as during times of peak congestion, than a fee based on fuel consumption. It is time to get creative and find smart ways to rebuild and renew America’s deteriorating infrastructure.”

In 2006, the Oregon Department of Transportation completed its own study of how to collect revenue from motorists with a new form of tax that, like the existing fuel excise tax, imposes a greater charge on drivers the more that they drive. The pilot project’s final report summed up the need for a VMT tax.

“Unfortunately, there is a growing perception among members of the public and legislators that fuel taxes have little to do with road programs and therefore should be considered ‘just another form of taxation,'” the March 2006 report stated. “By itself, this situation appears to be preventing any increases in fuel tax rates from being put into effect.”

The money diverted from the fuel excise tax on non-road related projects must be made up for with a brand new VMT tax, the report argued. Merely indexing the gas tax to inflation or improvements in fleet gas mileage was rejected as “imprecise.” Instead, the report urged a mandate for all drivers to install GPS tracking devices that would report driving habits to roadside Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) scanning devices.

Blumenauer is a long-time advocate of bicycling and mass transit in Congress. Many of his largest campaign donors stand to benefit from his newly introduced legislation. Honeywell International, for example, is a major manufacturer RFID equipment. The company also happens to be the second biggest contributor in the current cycle to Blumenauer’s Political Action Committee (PAC), the Committee for a Livable Future. Another top-ten donor, Accenture, is a specialist in the video tolling field.

H.R. 3311 awaits a hearing in the House Ways and Means Committee. A copy of the bill is available in a 170k PDF file at the source link below.

HR 3311 (Congress of the United States, 9/14/2009)

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  • CypressNut CypressNut on Sep 16, 2009

    Yet another attempt at wealth re-distribution. The assumption being, that the more you earn, the more you drive... But, who's looking out for the mobile taco stands? I am starting the MTT-PAC (Mobile Tasty Taco Political Action Comittee) and will lobby Congress against such a punitive tax against our members. Who knows, maybe I will get some free sausage/egg tacos for my troubles. CypressNut Founding Member, MTT-PAC

  • Roots549 Roots549 on Oct 01, 2009

    For years now, we would have had more electric or alternative fuel vehicles on the road, if our governments, state and fed, could have figured out an effective way to make up revenue lost to less gas being used. For the most part, this is about revenue. If people are making their own energy via solar, wind, whatever, then using that energy for transportation, the state is out revenue. The very survival of state bureaucracies is being threatened, so no alt energy concepts will thrive, until it can be managed efficiently, taxed enough. As for thousands of more devices tracking us, icing on the cake for those in power. We are nearing ruin, complete instability in our country. The US government is an entity hell bent on supporting themselves and their sponsors. If it were about the environment, we would see enormous subsidies on fuel efficient vehicles, off grid energy efforts, fantastic research grants. It's not about carbon, it's about money and the power of the state. There are many options on how individuals can work towards regaining liberties, don't expect any legit organization be in line, 100% with your personal beliefs, but find one that comes close and be active. Though I am not entirely supportive of their domestic agenda, campaignforliberty is who I throw some weight behind, trust them more than are status quo leadership.

  • Tim Healey Lol it's simply that VWVortex is fertile ground for interesting used cars!
  • Jalop1991 I say, install gun racks.Let the games begin!
  • EBFlex For those keeping track, Ford is up to 24 recalls this year and is still leading the industry. But hey, they just build some Super Dutys that are error free. Ford even sent out a self congratulatory press release saying they built Super Duty’s with zero defects. What an accomplishment!
  • Norman Stansfield This is what you get when you run races to keep the cars bunched together for more excitement. F1 doesn't seem to have this problem after the first few laps.
  • SCE to AUX Too many cars = more wrecks. With today's speeds on essentially the same old track, starting with half the cars could reduce the congestion at the end. Or maybe it would increase the problem because the herd wouldn't thin early on.I say no overtime - finish at 500 miles and no more.