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Dutch Government To Tax Drivers Based On Car Use 500

An anonymous reader writes "The Netherlands is testing a new car use tax system that will tax drivers based upon how much they drive rather than just taxing the vehicle itself. The trials utilize a little box outfitted with GPS, wireless internet, and a complex rating system that tracks a car's environmental impact, its distance driven, its route, and what time it is driven as a fairer way to assess the impact of the vehicle and hopefully dissuade people from driving. The proposal will be introduced slowly as a replacement for the current car and gas tax, however it is most certainly controversial and will be a real test of how far environmentally savvy Dutch citizens will be willing to go to reduce the impact of the car."
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Dutch Government To Tax Drivers Based On Car Use

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  • by Nick Fel ( 1320709 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:26AM (#37077762)
    Isn't this much easier to achieve -- albeit with less accuracy -- via fuel tax? Every time the government here proposes a mileage tax, I can't help but think we already have one. Added benefit of encouraging people to drive more efficient cars.
    • Yes, fuel tax already does that. However it doesn't differentiate between "good" mileage (the lorries that transport food/goods around) and the "bad" mileage such as driving little Johnny a quarter of a mile to school in the 4x4 every day (and then back again, later).

      This system also allows governments to adjust the tax paid by different groups according to their revenue-raising targets/public opinion/congestion reduction needs, in the same way they can target other groups with income and Value Added taxe

      • Ours does. Fuel for transport vehicles can be claimed against tax and you get (part of) the fuel tax back.

      • Though you've got to wonder what the effect of one individual with a GPS jammer in a city centre at rush-hour would be?

        ^---- This.

        Right now you don't have a choice, if you buy gasoline you pay the tax, but as soon as the government puts the monitoring system in the hands of the people there will be people that will attempt to disable it somehow, and given how poor GPS works in my vehicle and smartphone I'm thinking it won't be too difficult to circumvent.

      • "Good" and "bad" in what respect? Wear on the roads? Congestion? Pollution?
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I know a guy who used to un-plug the wire connected to the speedometer so that the mileage counter didn't increment when he went on long trips. I can imagine people unplugging the antenna of their GPS. Jammers are available but the GPS signal is so weak anyway that you could probably sabotage it without needing to keep something that would act as evidence in court in your car.

        Your example of commercial haulage being "good" mileage is interesting. We need to get as much of that traffic off the roads as possi

      • by xelah ( 176252 )

        Yes, fuel tax already does that. However it doesn't differentiate between "good" mileage (the lorries that transport food/goods around) and the "bad" mileage such as driving little Johnny a quarter of a mile to school in the 4x4 every day (and then back again, later).

        That's very kind of you to decide whats good and bad to save everyone else the bother. We already have a mechanism to distinguish these: do you value it enough to be prepared to pay the market price? If you can get the market price equal to the cost to society by taxing based on pollution, congestion and so on, why do you need to intervene to crudely categorize 'good' and 'bad' uses? If you're worried about the effect on poorer people then you should instead worry about misallocation of income, not cause de

      • by MrL0G1C ( 867445 )

        There's no such thing as 'good mileage' those goods vehicles spit out pollution and wear out the roads. Longer miles means more vehicle wear which leads to more environmentally destructive vehicle repair. And the 'goods' which are not food - how much of those are produced in an 100% environmentally friendly manner - practically none.

        Taxing fuel encourages the use of local food produce and lessens the need for road repairs.

        Good point about the GPS jammer, I bet those could be put together for a pittance and

    • by sosume ( 680416 )

      With neighbouring countires a hundred kilometers away for many, it would be rather rewarding to get cheap gasoline just across the border.

      • 100km = 60 miles, unless the gas is significantly cheaper it's not worth spending a few gallons of gas to save 10 cents a gallon.

        A neighboring state to me has gas that is about 20 cents more per gallon than where I live because of taxes. If you're within 10 miles of the border it makes sense to come here to fill-up, since 20 miles roundtrip is ~1 gallon of gas and would save about $4.00 in a 20 gallon tank (20 gal * 20 cents = $4).
    • Remember that the Netherlands has a tiny area.
      This means that pretty much everyone lives close to the Belgium or German border.
      Dutch taxes on fuel are currently already extremely high.
      But that high tax rate is easily avoided by filling up at the border.

      • by ComaVN ( 325750 )

        The difference in gas prices between german/belgian petrol stations along the border and cheap, unmanned gasstations inside the country is so small it hardly pays to make a 10km detour for it, let alone the 100km+ distance most inhabitants would need to drive.

    • by JackDW ( 904211 )

      Yes, and this can't replace the fuel tax, because if it did, The Netherlands would have the cheapest fuel in Europe. Drivers in neighbouring countries would drive there to refuel. There's no border checkpoint. So it would need to be an additional tax on top of the fuel tax.

      The article quotes someone as saying: âoeTo do it you need support of the government, and it needs to happen when there is not an election because thereâ(TM)s always a bit of resistance.â

      Most likely a lot of resistance. T

    • Re:Fuel tax? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zakkie ( 170306 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @06:00AM (#37077892) Homepage

      It's not less accurate, it's completely correct. Fuel-based taxation is the perfect solution, and every country I'm aware of already taxes fuel heavily. To add another tax on top of it is either really ignorant (unlikely) or an attempt by the powers that be to further and unfairly lighten the wallets of their citizenry, wrapped up in an "environmentally-conscious" sugar coating. Fighting this unfair tax would now mean that you're an anti-environment reactionary doing the bidding of the dirty oil companies.

      • by xnpu ( 963139 )

        The promise is that the amount money flowing to the government remains the same as it is now (or does not increase more that it would without the system). Supposedly people who already drive less will end up paying less tax, while long distance/frequent drivers will end up paying more.

        Of course we all know these promises are rarely kept.

        • by Arlet ( 29997 )

          That would be impossible, because the system itself needs to be paid too. There will be billions spent on development, hardware and maintenance.

    • by xelah ( 176252 )

      Fuel taxes do a poor job of correcting the externality because they don't accurately reflect the costs you impose on others when you drive. Those costs come from accident risk (minus what you pay for insurance), noise, local pollution, global pollution, damage to buildings, roads and crops, policing, congestion and the worsening of the physical environment, especially in cities. The size of those depends on:

      • - When you drive (congestion, accident risk and night time noise)
      • - Where you drive (almost all of th
    • Why yes. The current petrol tax in NL is close to €1/l... I say we certainly have road pricing here already. But from the government's perspective, a fuel tax has one glaring flaw: it can only go so high before even people in the south-west of the country will consider driving to Belgium for gas, driving gas stations near the borders completely out of business.

      Now with a scheme that actually lets you charge by the km, the sky is the limit. Great for milking people with no viable alternative to co
  • by LoadWB ( 592248 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:26AM (#37077764) Journal

    Putting an environmental impact fee (tax) on fuel would be a more reliable compensation for your impact than GPS. If I sit idling in my car for a few hours I can burn an entire tank of gas without moving an inch.

    For what will the GPS tracking *really* be used?

    • by fearlezz ( 594718 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:48AM (#37077846) Homepage

      Indeed. The car's location will be known to the authorities 24x7. Combine that with the fact that all your movements with public transportation are soon tracked with the chip-card, and it means that the government knows where you are any time of the day unless you're walking.

    • by xnpu ( 963139 )

      It's not about the environment. Not sure why that was thrown in. It's more about traffic management, e.g. if you drive outside of rush hours you will be less than during rush hour. Also KM's within congested areas will be more costly than elsewhere.

      • by Arlet ( 29997 )

        There's already a penalty for driving in rush hour: you sit in slow traffic. People who can avoid it, will already do so.

        This system adds a ton of complexity and costly overhead, while not providing much improvement over the current situation.

        • by Phleg ( 523632 )
          That penalty is nowhere near enough. It's the tragedy of the commons: each additional car on the roads during rush hour might cost the rest of the area hundreds of dollars in externalities. That's why there's been so many attempts at finding ways to manage congestion pricing. By tailoring the price to discourage use when demand is high and encourage use when demand is low, you can dramatically reduce the amount of congestion at peak use.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:35AM (#37077792)

    No really. It's for your own good.

  • are the costs involved with building and maintaining this system. Combined with privacy concerns, possible fraud and system failure makes an fuel tax much more preferable.
  • A No Brainer (Score:2, Interesting)

    What a smart idea that is. Smart because it automatically gives cheapskates a way to lower their expenses. If you don't want to pay a lot, let your car sit and ride your bike. Use your car only when you really need to haul around a huge hunk of metal. Most cars are empty but for the single, fat driver, hauling their can to work and back. A law like this would have multiple benefits:
    • Discourage unnecessary driving
    • Encourage fat-ass drivers to walk, carpool or ride a bicycle
    • Encourage people to move out of su
    • by xnpu ( 963139 )

      You misunderstand the idea. There will be large areas when the system will not bill you while your normal car tax is lowered. If anything, this encourages more people to buy and use cars in those areas. Again, it's not an environmental issue. It's just about getting traffic to stay away from congested areas/hours.

    • by MPAB ( 1074440 )

      I live in Guadalajara, Spain (the original one). It's got about 90 thousand inhabitants, most of which work in Madrid (about 60 km away).
      The hospital, where I work at, is 7 min away from here by car. Should I take the bus, the trip lasts 30 min, to which I must add an average 15 min between buses at peak times. Now, that's 45 min against 7, twice a day.
      If I go to Madrid, it takes about an hour if by train or if by car. But by car I bypass the 30-40' of busing to the train station and also the time limits (I

  • Antidemocratic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Znork ( 31774 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @05:45AM (#37077832)

    FTA: Eric-Mark Huitema, a transportation specialist with I.B.M ... “To do it you need support of the government, and it needs to happen when there is not an election because there’s always a bit of resistance.”

    With people like that, we don't need terrorists hating democracy, we obviously have democracy-haters running the place. Not that it's surprising, but it's even more odious when they're so blatant about it.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      He sounds like an engineer working for a private company, not a politician so he's hardly running the place. And how often do we get people here essentially saying "the sheep don't realize their own good, the government should do X even though it doesn't have popular support"? In his mind this system is probably more fair, and everybody wants a fair system right so the people are just being irrational about it, just sneak it in and you're really doing them a favor..

      It's actually a fairly common tactic from

  • makes ya wonder if this will lead to an increase in sales of GPS jammers...or at the very least...tinfoil

  • Canceled (Score:4, Informative)

    by TBerben ( 1061176 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @06:09AM (#37077924)
    This plan was canceled in the Netherlands as one of the first acts of the latest government (Rutte-1). I believe they were planning to increase taxes on fuel as a compensation.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm a bit surprised to see this article at slashdot. The plans to have tax on milage (kilometer heffing in dutch) are already existing for a very long time here in the Netherlands. The former government was actually planning to introduce this, but the current government killed the project. So for me this isn't really news.

    Further I'm very interested to see how such a system can be made robust. GPS signals are very weak and are easily jammed. One weather balloon and GPS jammer under the balloon will stop tax

  • The 'kilometerheffing' or 'rekeningrijden', kilometer charge, is a system to replace road tax and the extra VAT (BPM=40%!) on a car. It is supposed to enter service in 2014 but because of non-governance a while back I suppose it is delayed.

    How the pricing is determined:
    -type of fuel
    -type of engine/exhaust system (no particle filter == 2.5 ct/km)
    -place of the road (not sure if this in the current proposals)
    -time of day

    The system makes having a car cheap and driving one expensive in congestion areas/time.

    I th

  • by antientropic ( 447787 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @06:39AM (#37078032)

    The headline and the summary are pretty much completely wrong: as the NY Times article explains, the trial was two years ago, but the government cancelled plans to introduce "rekeningrijden" (GPS-based metered driving) last year. So it's not going to happen anytime soon - unless the Netherlands suddenly gets a left-wing government, which is unlikely.

  • by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Saturday August 13, 2011 @06:45AM (#37078056) Homepage

    Trying to get people to stop using cars is basically forcing them to reduce their quality of life... There are simply no viable alternatives to many car uses for a lot of people.

    Public transport is useless, its dirty, unreliable, often unsafe, overcrowded (yes i know the roads can be crowded too, but at least you have somewhere comfortable to sit in a car and can stop to take a break), doesn't run all night and is even more useless outside of large cities.

    Riding bikes is only practical for short distances, where its not too hilly and where it's safe to do so... This is why so many people ride bikes in holland, the population is densely packed, the ground is flat and there are cycle routes everywhere. In other places, cyclists are expected to share the roads with large dangerous vehicles and aren't allowed to ride on the sidewalk - even if the sidewalk is empty and the road is full of vehicles, thus slowing down the vehicles (causing them to waste more fuel) and increasing the danger for the cyclist.

    Taking away people's personal transportation is a terrible thing to do, having your own car massively increases your quality of life and this is not a new thing, having your own horse has done this for hundreds of years and now people are trying to force us to take a massive step backwards.

    Lack of personal transportation will force people to live in overcrowded ghettos, since public transport is not profitable/practical without a high population...

  • In addition to taxing based on time of day, for the love of God, put in a $0.10 per mile tax on those in the fast lane. Get the people who enter the motorways into the fast lane, cruise 20 under the limit there, then exit across traffic from the fast lane out of the fast lane. It should be empty for all times other than rush hour. A quick pass then gone. If they are going to do this, then go all the way and use taxes to help enforce the laws about lane etiquette.
  • I'm in America, but I really don't like this idea. I like the idea of freedom to travel. This discourages people from traveling. The rich should have no issue with this, but for anyone not so lucky, well, this is going to hurt.

    Tax the value of the vehicle, not how much it travels.

  • by cvtan ( 752695 ) on Saturday August 13, 2011 @07:43AM (#37078264)
    Suppose you could use the information from such a system to find a missing child. You would have to do it. Imagine an episode of "Law and Order: Special Minor Child Victims Unit" where the cops are complaining about privacy advocates are blocking GPS info that would rescue a child (especially a blonde blue-eyed girl). Yes, you could get a court order, but there's no TIME for that!

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?