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Government Transportation Technology

Oregon Lawmakers Propose Mileage Tax On Fuel Efficient Vehicles 686

Hugh Pickens writes "Facing a $10 billion revenue shortfall for transportation financing, the Oregon Legislature is expected to consider a bill to require drivers with a vehicle getting at least 55 miles per gallon of gasoline to pay a per-mile tax after 2015 to offset the loss in tax revenue for fuel efficient cars at the gas pump, where the government has traditionally collected money to build and fix roads. Oregonians currently pay 30 cents per gallon, a tax that is automatically added at the pump, but as cars become more fuel efficient and alternative fuel sources are identified, state officials project gas tax revenue will decline. 'Everybody uses the road, and if some pay and some don't, then that's an unfair situation that's got to be resolved,' says Jim Whitty of the Department of Transportation. Opponents of the Oregon proposal say it will hurt a new industry. 'It will be one more obstacle that the industry and auto dealers will face in convincing consumers to buy these new cars,' says Paul Cosgrove, a lobbyist for the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. Other states, such as Nevada and Washington, are also looking at a per-mile charge and a Washington law that would charge electric car owners an annual fee goes into effect in February. Oregon did a pilot study of the mileage tax (PDF) where participants paid 1.56 cents per mile and got a credit for any gasoline tax they paid at the pump. Although initial media portrayals of the system were almost uniformly negative, 91% of test participants preferred the mileage tax to paying gas taxes."
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Oregon Lawmakers Propose Mileage Tax On Fuel Efficient Vehicles

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  • How do they do it? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:49PM (#42469789)

    Without GPS, how do they know when you leave the state? And with GPS isn't that a serious privacy issue?

    Here in Washington State, they are planning a $100 / year fee for these types of vehicles.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:51PM (#42469809)

    Damn infrastructure freeloaders the lot of them.

  • by eksith ( 2776419 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:52PM (#42469823) Homepage

    Or older cars. Not everyone who drives a gas guzzler is necessarily behind the wheel of a bulldozer.

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:56PM (#42469871)

    Increase the gas tax to compensate. Gasoline should already be taxed more highly that it is because of it's numerous externalities.

    That will just incent the purchase of higher mileage vehicles, reinforcing a virtuous cycle.

    Eventually I suppose the time will come when taxation of high mileage vehicles will be needed, but clearly that isn't now.

  • by nemesisrocks ( 1464705 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:58PM (#42469885) Homepage

    I don't really understand the difference between levying a higher gas tax (which is far easier to implement), and implementing a complicated system for tracking miles driven, and levying this at the gas pump.

    Call me stupid, couldn't Oregon achieve two goals of their goals (reducing SUVs, and increased revenue) by simply adjusting the gas tax by the average MPG for cars each year? No crazy GPS+Transmitter system needed, no transition time to a new system, and no invasion of privacy needed...

    I don't really understand why people are more amenable to a mile tax system vs gas tax... Unless you have a 100% electric car, you still pay for the additional miles driven, through the additional gas you consume. The only difference is you can reduce your taxes paid by purchasing a more fuel-efficient car...

  • by fredmosby ( 545378 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @08:59PM (#42469909)
    They should just have a smaller mileage tax that applies to all vehicles (not just efficient ones) to avoid creating an incentive to have less efficient cars.
  • Re:Of all states? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rougement ( 975188 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:02PM (#42469943)
    Because driving a high efficiency or electric vehicle should be encouraged, not penalized.
  • Re:Of all states? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dskoll ( 99328 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:03PM (#42469951) Homepage

    It's backwards to penalize people for conserving oil. This is a very short-sighted strategy.

  • by larry bagina ( 561269 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:05PM (#42469967) Journal
    In which case you would be taxed for miles driven outside the state.
  • Re:Of all states? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:10PM (#42470021) Homepage

    The shortsightedness is trying to subsidize one group with another... when the taxed group is one you are trying to reduce the # of.

    While today there are clearly more traditional petrol autos than hybrids (or fully electric)... what happens when the scales tip?

    Funding the S-CHIP program through tobacco taxes sounds good... until you reach the tipping point when there aren't enough smokers paying the tax.

    As I recall Minnesota ran into a similar problem a few years... where vehicle tabs (amongst other things in part) fund the bus system... when the recession hit, quite a few people got rid of their cars and started running the heavily subsidized bus system.

    The result? Massive losses to Metro Transit who had to go running to the city & state for piles of cash because the designs of the legislature had worked too well.

  • by kestasjk ( 933987 ) * on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:19PM (#42470109) Homepage
    Isn't it more fair to distribute the tax according to use?
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:19PM (#42470113)

    SUVs are not the gas guzzlers many make them out to be. Newer ones are getting 22 to 30mpg. Most vehicles that use a lot of gas are older cars owned by the poor. Gas taxes, which are quickly turning into the modern vice tax, do just what other vice taxes do: Tax the poor. The people you want to tax, who drive $60k suvs could give a shit less what gas costs.

  • Re:A better plan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:28PM (#42470185) Homepage
    I strongly disagree with you on two points-

    Most state already have a "smog-check" requirement where a licenced facility records the odometer reading so you can register your car. They could easily just add a mileage tax to your vehicle licencing fees as a requirement to register your car.

    Thereby encouraging odometer fraud. The cost of a high odometer now is difficult to quantify. How much less is a 120,000mi car worth compared to a 90,000mi car? Difficult to say. If you are going to tax someone based on the odometer though, figuring out how much it is going to cost you is easy. Avoiding that tax would be a strong incentive to play with the odometer.

    The gas tax might be regressive, but don't forget that the gas tax is intended to pay for the roads and related transportation projects. That is what it is (supposed to be) for. What causes the most damage to the roads? Weather, which is uncontrollable and untaxable, and heavy vehicles. The correlation of vehicle weight and road deterioration couldn't be more clear. Heavy vehicles are intrinsicly less fuel efficient. The tax on fuel helps to keep vehicle weight down if it is high enough. That helps the roads last longer and saves everybody money in the long run.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:31PM (#42470229)

    and let the tiny-dicked losers who drive SUVs and pickups pick up the tab.

    Because you forget how things work in government. The rich asshole commuting 50+ miles to work each day in his Mercedes G55 SUV doesn't want to pay his fair share of fuel taxes, instead he wants the people driving the fuel efficient hybrids to pick up the slack. Since he can afford to pay the most in "campaign" contributions, politicians listen to them..

  • by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:32PM (#42470233)

    Yes, let's ignore the 2nd law of thermodynamics and stop funding for road repairs. And yes lets make maintenance management a job that someone who attended college (and accumulated tuition debt) to get a civil engineering education can't afford to take. Everyone knows things like concrete design and construction surveying are just a useless waste of money, especially in an area that has a history of earthquakes.

    It is quite amazing how downright STUPID Tea Party members can be.

  • boneheaded idea (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sdnoob ( 917382 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:35PM (#42470285)

    the environmental benefits and lower consumption aren't worth anything to these idiots in salem? this is aimed squarely at those who drive plug-in electrics, but those owners SHOULD get a little break (besides the federal credits at time of purchase) for their choice of car to buy.

    not collecting enough fuel tax? just raise the per-gallon rate. that's easy and uses existing systems and infrastructure to collect. costs zero to implement, unlike a complicated system of tracking every vehicle and billing for miles driven -- which has it's own privacy issues besides. if road fuel is to be taxed, the existing method of per-gallon taxes collected by federal and state governments are the ONLY reasonable and fair way to go. it penalizes those who drive less efficient vehicles (we DO want people to drive efficient vehicles), or damage roads (larger, heavier vehicles do more damage) while providing an incentive to change to cleaner, more efficient models or to drive less (or carpool, walk, bike, or take public transit, etc).

    a combination of a little higher registration fee (for all vehicles, not just high efficiency or electric ones) combined with a modest per-gallon increase should be more than enough to offset the supposed loss in road tax revenues.

    at the risk of -1 from oregon residents... oregon could also start collecting a modest statewide sales tax (it doesn't currently have one) to bring in a few extra bucks. they do not need to violate every state driver's privacy by using a costly to implement and administer per-mile tax. but knowing how the masses usually vote, if it comes down to driver privacy + per mile tax vs a small statewide sales tax, voters will choose to be tracked everywhere they go even if it ends up costing them more money. the stigma of a "state sales tax" will lose every time -- and has numerous times before at the ballots, which is why oregon has one of the highest state personal *income* tax rates in the country instead.

  • Re:Of all states? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:42PM (#42470357) Journal

    That depends on how much of road damage is due to vehicles and how much of it is due to nature.

    Many bicyclists bring up the point that they are so light that they shouldn't have to pay a road tax because they're not damaging the road. Of course, for this theory to hold, we should never have to repair bicycle paths. Yet we do.

    While I would agree that the Ford King Ranch pickup does more damage to the road than the Nissan Micra, I would say that a good strong rainstorm with minor flooding does significantly more damage. And that's nobody's "fault."

  • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @09:50PM (#42470427)

    Which means per-mile tax on all autos in order to be fair, not just fuel efficient ones. Sure, it's a bit unfair to gas guzzlers, but why should we be fair to them?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:11PM (#42470633)

    It is quite amazing how downright STUPID Tea Party members can be.

    Your typical liberal arts lefty treehugger types aren't exactly rocket scientists either (well unless they actually *are* rocket scientists but damned few of them actually are and they're usually not the ones spouting stupid hippie crap.)

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:54PM (#42470969) Journal

    It's not unfair to gas guzzlers, it's unfair to people with long commutes regardless of what they drive.

    It would be better to just jack up the gas tax. It punishes the wasteful more than the thrifty and is still has some relationship to distance driven. Plus it doesn't punish EV drivers at all, for now I'd think they're worth giving a break.

    Or even better yet, start charging big rig operators the lion's share of the road maintenance costs for causing the lion's share of the damage.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Thursday January 03, 2013 @10:58PM (#42471003) Homepage

    In which case they would be taxing people the most who walk at every opportunity rather than taking the car. The reality is fuel efficient vehicles are light, generally have low power and have the least impact on roads. You want to tax energy, then stop being morons and nationalise energy production and the profits become taxes. Nationalise the banks and the gap between interest paid and interest earned becomes taxes. Do these things and you can substantially reduce taxes for everyone. Screw the psychopathic parasite, all essential services should be government owned and the profits be considered as taxes paid.

  • by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <gameboyrmh@gmai l . c om> on Thursday January 03, 2013 @11:06PM (#42471067) Journal

    Miles driven does nothing to the road compared to pounds per square inch. My cars do almost nothing, both are around 2klbs, one is on 195/50/15 tires and one is on 30x9.5"s. Very low psi on the road. Compare to a big rig...every single time one comes into my neighborhood I find new potholes.

  • Re:Of all states? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gewalker ( 57809 ) <> on Thursday January 03, 2013 @11:13PM (#42471121)

    I should add, this measure, like most taxes, has little to do with fairness. Indeed, the art of taxation, as seventeenth-century French administrator Jean-Baptiste Colbert reportedly said, "consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing." -- The measure is about collecting more taxes. Period.

  • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @12:01AM (#42471483)

    You don't know any poor people do you? Most of the poor drive the old cheap cast offs and the big old luxury cars driven by old people survive well. The big land yachts that never tear up or die. 5000 pounds of steel and chrome with a front seat bigger than most peoples couches. 40 year old caddies and lincolns that get 10 to 15 mpg if they are properly tuned which they seldom are. You can pick them up all the time for 5 or 6 hundred dollars and drive around with a cloud of smoke following you. If it dies you walk away and get another one. When I got out of the service in 88 I had limited funds and picked up a 74 malibu with a 350 engine and 4 doors for the family for 600 dollars and spent about 400 dollars getting it in good running condition. It got about 14 city and 17 highway and I drove it from 1988 to 2002 and spent money on tires, oil and gas for it. When it dropped a valve I got 300 dollars for scrap and moved on. That's how working poor do it. Yes I could have got a toyota corolla for a couple of grand that I didn't have but it would have got maybe 22 mpg and that's not enough difference to be worth it, especially when it would have cost me tons of money to fix if it did break whereas if I had wanted to I could have dropped an engine in the malibu for 500 bucks if I needed to. Mileage isn't everything.

  • by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @12:32AM (#42471729)

    Do you have any justification for such a system other than that you would rather personally pay less?

  • Not very free market of you. Why not give the proper incentives to companies to do less damage to the roads.

  • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @04:35AM (#42473061) Homepage

    You do realise that is typical corporate marketing bullshit, alongside they will save costs. Reality sure save costs but the consumer never ever sees the benefit. Instead the see crippled services, massively increased charges and after all of that, to fucking big to fail rescue packages. So don't let the last thirty years of reality get in the way of mass media marketing bullshit. Fucking corporations, want to fuck something up, pay more for it to fail and then have to rebuild it afterwards at taxpayer expense, hand it over to your typical psychopathic corporate executive, watch as they sail away on their mega yacht laughing with their golden parachute. I mean fuck, are you not paying attention at all to what is really going on.

  • by ATMAvatar ( 648864 ) on Friday January 04, 2013 @10:36AM (#42474919) Journal

    What isn't fair? If they're driving farther, they're adding more wear. Thus, they should pay more taxes to maintain the roads. Whether the mileage tax is actually used to maintain the roads in your location is orthogonal to your original complaint.

    It was a choice to live out in the suburbs and drive 40+ miles to work, usually based in no small part on cost of living. Increasing taxes on those who do this simply shifts the balance a little. It would also add indirect pressure to spread out business locations a little and/or provide telecommuting options.

The best defense against logic is ignorance.