Taxed by the mile

File this with my previous “Can a tax do two jobs at once” posts. The increases in state gasoline taxes around the country were partly driven — many claimed — to get people to move toward more fuel efficient vehicles. And, in many cases, the increases were meant to raise some revenue for states.

So what happened? In Oregon, people did move toward more fuel-efficient vehicles and revenue from the gas tax dropped.

What to do? Oregon is now considering changing the state’s gas tax to a tax on miles driven, rather than on gasoline consumed.

The Associated Press reports that Congress, too, is thinking about adopting the plan Oregon is considering, which includes a GPS monitor in some cars.

  • Tonya

    My husband is originally from OR, and we had a lively discussion about this tax while visiting his family over the holidays. It makes sense for a lot of reasons, but the GPS built into my car bugs me. I’ve never liked Big Brother.

    Also, due to this post, I know have the Beatles’ “Tax Man” in my head…

    “If you drive a car

    I’ll tax the street

    If you take a walk

    I’ll tax your feet”

    Good times. 🙂

  • One thing to think about on fuel tax, if I remember correctly Minnesota’s tax is even on non-purchased fuels. Home made Bio Diesel and donated veggie oil buses have to pay the tax also.

    A blatant reference to Robert Fitzgerald and Gus the big red bus. I understand the Gus is now working hard in Mexico hauling people to the beach,

  • Jesse

    This won’t fix anything. If people are going to be taxed for distance, then people will likely be cautious with how much they drive. Again.

    I’m sure there are some people who will opt to stay home instead of travel. Want to take a road trip? Better set some money aside for the tax. Trip to the cabin? Better skip it this time. I don’t see a lot of good coming from this. Are there going to be government “Meter Readers” to read our odometers? Random Milage audits? Police asking for “license, regestration, and mileage please?”

  • Alanna in MI

    How will this work for people who cross the state line frequently, like me? I’d be less likely to visit my family if I had to pay a tax on mileage. Keeping track of my mileage between Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota would not be an easy tax. How would this work with truck drivers as well? They cross many state lines. I think the gas tax is the best answer. If they have to raise it again, so be it. With the fluctuating gas prices these days, nobody notices another 6 or 7 cents tacked on.

  • bigalmn

    Another reason people will have for disconnecting or spinning back their odometers.

  • Bob Collins

    The problem with any GPS system is that it needs to “see” the satellite, and it needs an antenna. I would think it would be fairly easy to block the signal.

  • Mary

    “Mileage” taxes already exist — they’re called toll rodes. If you are worried about the drop in gas tax revenues, raise tolls.

  • Tanya

    Maybe MPR could charge by the shows you listen to. That way most people would have to cough up even more money.. Next thing you know we will have toll roads and a high gas tax.. It’s never enough…

  • Al

    Ideally, I would think a mix of gas tax and mileage tax would be best to maximize the benefits of each. I’m not sure the gas tax at it’s current rate is a big deterent to driving, however. When gas prices jump around by such huge amounts the tax becomes invisible. Try this, ask the next 10 people you see how much the gas tax in MN is. Do you know?

    Would a mileage tax make people consider the cost before taking a trip? I hope so, but I doubt it would make much difference.

    It sounds like a few people are stating that travel should be tax free. I disagree. People should have pay for their travel. Remember, even if we reduce gasoline consumption, vehicles will still run on some form of energy and travel on roads. Energy and roads are not free. Consumption has its costs, as it should.

  • Bob Collins

    Some years ago, I recall a guy who advocated paying for auto insurance at the pump.

  • Shelly

    What an idiotic notion! A gas tax DOES basically tax people for the mileage they drive, but it has the added advantage of taxing them for the kind of vehicle they drive. A heavier (and therefore, usually, a bigger gas consumer) vehicle SHOULD pay more to drive on our roads, as they do more damage to them. Also, can you imagine the overhead of enforcing a mileage tax?!?!? It would eat up most of the tax! Enforcing a gas tax is easy. It’s paid at the pump, when you buy the gas. I guess one could argue that more people would have jobs, but they would be totally non-productive jobs that would have no benefit for society. Also, only honest, or less technically gifted, people would pay the tax, as the dishonest and those with the ability to falsify the mileage would find their way around it.

  • Al

    It seems a number of people are missing the point here. We are working toward vehicle technology that does not rely on gas, large vehicle or small. This question will need to be answered, hopefully soon.

    Also, for those of you who seem to think that you shouldn’t be taxed to use the road, a few questions. Who designs the roads and bridges? Builds them? Maintains them? Inspects them? Plows them? Patrols them? Must be volunteers, right? Lots of people who do the work out of the goodness of their hearts and don’t need an income to survive. And thank heavens for the good and generous ‘donors’ of the construction materials and equipment. The government must be pocketing all the tax money they collect.

  • Bob

    If Big Brother only knows how far I travel, not when, where or why, I’m OK with the idea of a mileage tax.