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States Mull Taxing Drivers By Mile

wtg california

CBS) College student Jayson Just commutes an odometer-spinning 2,000 miles a month. As CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports, his monthly gas bill once topped his car payment.

"I was paying about $500 a month," says Just.

So Just bought a fuel efficient hybrid and said goodbye to his gas-guzzling BMW.

And what kind of mileage does he get?

"The EPA estimate is 60 in the city, 51 on the highway," says Just.

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."


http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2005/02/14/eveningnews/main674120.shtml

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Comments
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And the privacy implications are terrifying, Mark.
Kim and his team 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.

And a GPS can also be used to monitor the driver's comings and goings; need I say more?
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Paul?

What are you up to that you don't want everyone at all levels of government and all branches of constabulary to know everywhere you go?

Dan

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Interesting and perplexing

Charging by mileage (and even vehicle size and weight) in a way may be fair but the mandatory GPS could (and would probably) become widely misused although it would be great from a law enforcement stand point.

In any case when revenues don't pay the bills, regretably either costs or services must decline or taxes must increase. I think the tax increase would be the most practical and socially acceptable choice.

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Why don't they up the gas tax?

That would encourage more drivers to switch to higher mileage vehicles, but raise more revenues.

Sheesh Sad

GPS?? Lordie lordie I hope not!

Evie Happy

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An interesting problem of equity in public policy...

The gas tax is the means by which government collects the money needed to build and repair roads. If you don't drive a car and therefore don't contribute to roads wearing out, you aren't going to be buying much gasoline and so you won't be paying for something you don't use/need. That's great public policy - charge the users for their use of the resource.

Back when cars all got about the same abysmal mileage, gas usage in gallons was a reasonable proxy for road usage in miles. Now with generally better fuel efficiency, the traditional ratio of gas gallons used to miles of road worn out needs to be reset. That could be done, as Evie suggests, simply by changing the tax rate.

However, we have the additional variable now of widely disparate efficiency. Leaving aside whether Ahnold's hummer will wreck a roadway before my hybrid Prius, for the same miles driven I am contributing far less to the roadway's ultimate need for replacement that the Govinator. The only way to restore equity is to charge by the mile actually driven, not by the gallon of gas used. Toll roads do that, but who wants put up with that. So how do you assess the cost equitably?

I agree that GPS is problematic for a variety of reasons, if only because managing the data would be a nightmare (and using this for an excuse to not do it avoids starting the debate about privacy...). There is an easier way, I believe... I already must get an annual safety and emissions inspection. The odometer mileage is recorded by the state inspector. The odometer reading is also required to be reported upon sale. They already know how far that car was driven last year. So tax me for whatever is a fair rate for that road usage.

dw

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ok but when i disconect spedo

and redo it later prove it?

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we already have laws...

about that kind of fraud when you sell your vehicle. Now we bust you for tax evasion too.

dw

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(NT) (NT) im just wondering how they can prove it
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(NT) (NT) Eye in the sky?
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With the RFI toll cards

would Toll roads do that, but who wants put up with that really be that much to put up with? although I hate using them in a way.

That is I hated using toll roads, I've not been in an area using them long enough yet to bother with a smart toll card where they're offered. Only occasionally travel far enough from home to hit toll roads.

JMO

Roger

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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love that EZPass...

yup, that little transponder behind the mirror is the best thing that ever happened to my travels up and down the east coast. But that only covers the few roads, bridges, and tunnels that were specifically built with toll-based financing. The gas tax is the financing mechanism for all the rest of the roads. If we are going to shift the financing of all that to a toll-based mechanism, then you'll need to stick your transponder on the window every time you leave your driveway and there will be little electronic toll takers mounted on every utility pole to monitor your movements so as to tax you just the right amount. Which is virtually the same as the GPS thing... don't want to go there...

dw

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I think they should embed the GPS. Then they can track

you even if you switch cars. Where else but California? I wonder what they'll do about out of state drivers. Devil

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If they want to, they can

Speedos are all electronic now, driven by sensors in the axle (the same ones are for anti-lock brakes) and controlled by the engine computer. If the inspector finds it tampered with, you'll find a black-shirted jackboot waiting for you when you arrive home Wink.

No, actually this touches on the real problem with a mileage-based tax. Assuming everybody is honest (or at the other extreme, they have the tracking technology so it doesn't matter if you are honest or not), how do you actually collect the tax money? With the gas tax, the gas station collects it at the pump. If you want gas to drive anywhere, you pay the tax $.14 at a time as part of the purchase. A mileage tax can only be paid when the mileage is totted up at the end of the year, and now JohnQPublic has one hellacious bill to pay. It won't take long for the legislature that came up with that stupid idea to be voted out of office.

dw

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(NT) (NT) this misplaced post was in response to mark
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i see your point

and thank you for the meck lessonsHappy

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even the analog speedos

are electronically controlled now. As you remember from the old days, there was a gear-driven cable from the tranny up to the back of the speedo, which in turn rolled the odo numbers over. Now, there is a little variable speed electric motor that turns the needle and rolls the numbers. The faster the wheel sensors turn, the higher the voltage the engine computer feeds to the little electric motor causing it to roll the dial faster, just like the old cable drive. No more mechanical wear or broken cable. And a whole lot more expensive to repair when it does break down - which may be the true motivation. Sell 'em cheap but rip 'em off on the other end.

dw

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What a horrible idea!

We want to encourage driving fuel-efficient cars to decrease our dependence on foreign oil and help prevent global warming -- this would remove the incentive! Reminds me of the old Beatles' song
Taxman.

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator
click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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Then maybe there should be fuel and mileage tax?

Consider this, a hybrid car and a gas powered car of roughly the same weight do roughly the same damage to the road.

So in the name of encouraging fuel effiency, we're going to load a disapportionate amount of road maintanence costs on the gas powered car owner? who perhaps can't afford the high up front cost for the hybrid.


JMO

Roger

click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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Make the gas tax variable

Have the standard X cents per gallon but add a bonus tax based on the vehicle weight.

Dan

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How would you collect...

the variable portion? Would gas stations have to bury scales beside the pumps so that the higher tax rate can be charged to the heavier vehicles? Or would there be a surcharge on the license plate based on vehicle size? That's the basic conundrum with any tax scheme - how to you balance all the nuances of fairness and equity with ease and efficiency of actually collecting it.

dw

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For a long time ...

... gas tax revenues have gone for things other than road/bridge maintenance. I'm a bit bothered by the fact that those driving fuel efficient vehicles are now targetted for "cheating" the system.

If its anything like here in CT, we have a trooper (at least one) sitting in his/her car (or chatting with the construction workers) at every site. Flag waivers make waaaaaaaayyyy too much for their effort. I think they need to privatize this more. Whenever the state does a highway job it takes YEARS. When the Indians want to widen a highway or blow a 3-lane road through a mountain, it's completed in weeks. Hard to see how privatizing couldn't save boku bucks!

Evie Happy

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Collection is a problem with any of these schemes

But there should be a fairly straightforward way to code it into the pump.

Dan

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