(UPI) — The Obama administration is considering a plan that would require the study and execution of a plan to tax U.S. drivers based on the amount of miles they drive.
This really is an old story. Many western states were talking about this issue years ago, when hybrid and electric vehicles were just starting to catch the imagination of lawmakers and consumers alike. If a green vehicle uses less fuel, but still used our highways, owners would not be paying their fair share of road maintenance. What to do? Mileage tracking.
But it's more than that. How do we eventually change the way the tax in collected? Do we whine, complain and blame Obama like conservative talk radio did on Friday? Some chose not too. Instead, this Seattlepi piece lays out a few thoughtful ways it can be done. First, here’s more of what outraged the right wingnuts:
The plan is included in the administration’s Transportation Opportunities Act and follows a Congressional Budget Office report backing the idea of taxing drivers based on miles driven, The Hill reported Thursday. In its report, the CBO said a vehicle miles-traveled tax could be tracked by installing electronic equipment on vehicles to determine how many miles were driven and payments could be made electronically at gas stations.
Now the Seattlepi’s suggested solutions:
A tracking device to measure vehicle miles traveled is a non-starter, but reporting total miles annually when renewing the car license wouldn’t be too intrusive. If you cheated, it would just come due when the car was sold or totaled. We essentially pay a mileage tax now, only it’s measured indirectly by how many gallons of gas we use instead of by how many miles we drive. A mileage tax would put hybrids, solar charged, electric, and gas vehicles all on equal footing when it comes to road use.
As long as the gas tax went away, it is possible a plain and transparent mileage tax could work out as a better deal for us rural folks. If we paid mileage tax instead of gas tax, we’d get a break on that second utilitarian vehicle that uses more gas per mile but doesn’t travel as much.
The first unintended consequence – people would know how much tax they are paying for transportation if they wrote a mileage tax check once a year (or twelve easy installment payments). That transparency might make it easier to hold the government accountable for spending it wisely. A lot more folks would sure sit up and notice than do now when the gas-based mileage tax is nudged upwards.