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Friday, May 06, 2011

Obama Considering Mileage Based Taxes

According to this Detroit News article, the Obama administration is considering funding roads through a tax on miles driven, as opposed to gasoline taxes as they are now.

This is a reasonable approach, and it should be studied.  

As gasoline consumption decreases due to more efficient vehicles, and different forms of propulsion, the amount of tax revenue from gasoline taxes will decline.  A sensible approach would be to tax the common denominator--miles driven--rather than the fuel type.  Electric cars should not free-load on highway taxes.

The devil is in the details, of course.  Americans will not put up with an intrusive enforcement system, such as mandatory monthly mileage checks.  In states which have annual emissions tests, they are roundly hated, and removed whenever the voters have a chance.  A less frequent annual or quarterly mileage check would result in higher tax bills, as opposed to the gradual leeching we get from gasoline taxes or toll roads.  I would support an electronic system which allows cars to report mileage wirelessly to road-side sensor, or RFID based toll gathering sensors, however privacy hawks will howl that Big Brother is going to know where we drive.

Another detail is the amount of tax--people who pay a mileage tax should not have to also pay an equivalent gasoline tax.  It should be one or the other.

Taxing miles has another side effect, which is to put direct pressure on the number of miles driven.  As fuel economy increases, each mile driven will become less expensive.  By keeping miles expensive, the government is encouraging less driving, which will lead to less wear on the roads and less damage to the environment.  
  
 

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

What pray tell is more efficient than a fuel tax. With one swell foop you tax distance and Mal-efficiency.

Why not simply use the great Clinton tax 'how much did you receive---send it in'

Anonymous said...

Really! Instead of taxing us again, then spending the monies on something we didn't agree to; as the goverment has become accustomed to, perhaps we should all just drive around with a bag of asphalt in our trunks and patch the roads ourselves. Sorry, I thought this was an engineering blog, my mistake for finding the Obama indoctrination blog.

The Auto Prophet said...

@Anon 1, the fuel tax is inefficient if your goal is to fund roads, assuming that future vehicles will run increasingly on electricity, ethanol, magic pixie dust, etc.

@anon 2, I am not advocating increasing taxes. I am saying that taxing the activity (driving) that uses the resource (the roads) is better than taxing fuel. ideally, fuel taxes would be scrapped and all road taxes would be based on mileage driven.

Anonymous said...

It is only inefficient when all of the proceeds are just stolen and placed in the general fund. This is simply another example of the government taking for one purpose and spending for another.

For your further edification study little al's lock box theory of social security.

The dorf

otomobil kampanyaları said...

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Anonymous said...

I propose a study to tax the DNC everytime Obama fires up AF1 to a stupid campign fund raiser.

I'll sign onto Obamacare the day Nancy Pelosi's friends have to kick in, too.

Anonymous said...

I would have to disagree. I personally don't want another way for my liberty to be intruded upon by our friendly government. Your car is NOT a service to be taxed. The fuel is the tax source, just like electric or natural gas. It should not be legal for the government to tax how far you drive your vehicle. Should you be taxed (and forced to wear a pedometer) for the distance you walk on the sidewalk? NO! What if you drive a pickup around your farm, what then? How do you suppose to track mileage driven on your on land. You really need to think this through again. The government doesn't own my car and shouldn't be able to tax my mileage.