California's mileage tax

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Now California is considering a mileage tax.
And that saves him almost $300 a month in gas. It's great for Just but bad for the roads he's driving on, because he also pays a lot less in gasoline taxes which fund highway projects and road repairs. As more and more hybrids hit the road, cash-strapped states are warning of rough roads ahead.

Officials in car-clogged California are so worried they may be considering a replacement for the gas tax altogether, replacing it with something called "tax by the mile."

Seeing tax dollars dwindling, neighboring Oregon has already started road testing the idea.

"Drivers will get charged for how many miles they use the roads, and it's as simple as that," says engineer David Kim.

Kim and fellow researcher David Porter at Oregon State University equipped a test car with a global positioning device to keep track of its mileage. Eventually, every car would need one.

"So, if you drive 10 miles you will pay a certain fee which will be, let's say, one tenth of what someone pays if they drive 100 miles," says Kim.

I've complained about mileage taxes before, but if one wants to implement them, at least in California, there's no need at all to have a GPS. California cars need to have periodic emissions inspections, so it would be a fine opportunity to measure their mileage and levy taxes, without having some gizmo in your car that tracks everywhere you drive--and incurring the obvious privacy problems.

The only reason to use a GPS is to let you charge different prices for driving on different roads. But we already have a mechanism for that--it's called the toll booth.

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I still think a weight-based tax at the pump would be a good way to recoup the cost of these massive trucks that some folks need to battle the wilds of Costco and Sam's Club. I think a car-mounted GPS opens up a huge can of worms (imagine having tickets issued based on the data derived from them, for speeding, etc.).

Set a reasonable base price for fuels, and then add a surtax based on curb weight per axle (since that can be tied back to road wear and tear). Motorcycles and small cars might get off with nothing or very little, but full-size cars and SUVs would pay more per gallon/mile, without tolls or other infrastructure.

It seems insane to me to move from Gas taxes to Milage taxes.

Yes we want to collect a certain amount in taxes: so if need be, increase the Gas tax.

Yes we want to pay for the milage that people drive, e.g. reduce the milage if we can: But Gas taxes charge twice as much (for a specific car) for twice as many miles.

Yes we want to charge for the damage on our roads: but Gast taxes at least are somewhat related to the weight of the car, thus tend to collect more for more damaging vehicals.

Yes we want to encurage more efficient use of Gas: That seems to me to be the first place Gas tax is better than Milage tax.

Yes if our system works, why try to replace it with something else: Gas taxes are already being collected, no added hardware, inspections...

Why in G*d's name are we even talinkg about milage taxes?

The GPS system is `required' in order not to tax you for miles which you may drive outside the state.


We have mileage taxes for some vehicles in New Zealand... diesel and alternative fuel vehicles (not anything that runs on petrol, so not hybrids for now). There's a regular (6-monthly if the vehicle is over 3 years old) safety inspection, at which the odometer is checked, but you're required to pay the taxes every month or 3000km, whichever is less often. The inspection allows them to detect if you're cheating. Simple, cheap, non-intrusive, works.

Of course, there is no issue of driving out of tax coverage here, it can't happen.

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