Pay By The Miles Driven Instead Of Paying Gas Taxes.


Since no politician in their right mind would consider raising gas taxes right now (although I wish they would), they are trying to come up with alternatives to make sure they increase the taxes that they are collecting. And one way they have come up with is to start charging drivers per mile driven and when they are driven – basically tracking your every move by GPS to collect more tax revenue from each of us. And while it sounds good to those of us who drive very little, there are a few things wrong with this idea:

1. I don’t like being tracked by anyone, never mind some all-knowing tax authority. So having the government watch everywhere I go is a little creepy.

2. Since a giant SUV uses way more gas than I do, shouldn’t they have to pay more taxes on that gas? But going on miles alone, we could drive the same amount of miles every month and pay the exact same amount in gas tax – even though that driver is using 3 times the gasoline I use to do the same driving. I understand that they money is for the roads and it would no longer be a gas tax – but if that is the case, I should still pay less as my small car does way less damage to the road than a giant heavy vehicle does.

3. They want to charge more for driving during rush hour to try to relieve some of the traffic. Sorry, no can do. It’s fine for me – I don’t go anywhere! But my wife has to drive during rush hour and does not have a choice in the matter – there are children at school depending on her being there in the morning when school starts. It’s not some comfy job that you can roll into a cubicle at 9:30am…They are going to tax a teacher because she has to be at work on time? Nope.

See, gas tax revenues are falling because more and more people are buying smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles – which is a very good thing. But the cities and states want their tax dollars (Even though they waste most of it, and some of them even use gas taxes for projects other than roadwork) and they will come up with a way to get it, even if it means tracking you and charging you the same amount as the guy next door with the 9 MPG truck. I have no doubt we will eventually have to transition to this type of tax set up, but I do hope they take into consideration the type of vehicle you drive as well as the miles/time of day that you drive as well. What do you think about this idea?

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Comments (13)

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  1. Hmm….maybe I missed something but that seems like a really crazy (bad) idea. If the point is to tax consumption, then higher gas taxes would be the proper way to account for that. Never mind that fact that tracking miles driven and then somehow collecting taxes on that number is essentially impossible (not possible without spending huge amounts of money to put infrastructure for that in place).

    And why do you wish for higher gas taxes in the first place? How often has government put your tax dollars to good use?

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    Wait what? Is someone really proposing that?

  3. david says:

    It’s not that I wish for more gas taxes, I just wish gas was more expensive. I suppose I should change the wording on that…

    Yea, there are people in Congress proposing it, and several cities (Portland, OR mainly) doing trial runs with volunteers…

  4. The GPS idea is absurd. Haven’t they read 1984? And as FinanceAndFat wisely pointed out, if the government is hurting for money, the last thing they would need to be doing is spending money on GPS systems.

  5. plonkee says:

    You can create a system that does this sort of thing without actually tracking where you go. You could, for example, have an onboard unit that calculates the price of your miles and only reports that to the relevant authority.

    The way to sell it could be to link it to reduced insurance premiums for driving less. A big insurer in the UK (Norwich Union) offers pay as you drive insurance which uses identical technology. I believe that they keep records of where you’ve driven but we have good data protection laws here and companies (but not nec. the government) are good at complying with them.

  6. david says:

    Interesting plonkee, but I still don’t think it’s fair when people in the US can drive school buses to commute in when other people have little cars. Aren’t you guys starting an SUV fee for London?

  7. Annie says:

    This is an interesting issue… I, too, drive very little, but would HATE to be tracked when I did.

  8. […] My Two Dollars has written a post about the silly pay-per-mile tax. […]

  9. Fred says:

    yes, the arguments proposed are very good. However, there is another advantage to the gps monitoring argument. Ideally, one could allocate road improvement dollars to the areas showing in the gps tracking, and to the routes used. In addition, if a person purchases gas in an area, it is not the same as the area, always, in which they drive. So, if they fill 70 miles out of town but do the majority of their gas guzzling in between the fill area or residence and the town, it would be a way to argue for the improvement of roads and for pollution reduction in the areas not represented by the place in which the person pays the tax when purchased, or by the residence or work place of the person. This could have a huge impact on planning future mass transit offerings, and change the way we perceive vehicle use. In addition, there is data shwoing 60% or more of road and infrastructure damage is from heavy trucks. That issue needs to be balanced as well as the greater congestion resulting from private personal vehicle use.

  10. […] talked about a suggestion to tax drivers based on mileage rather than via a gas tax. I agree that this is a very bad […]

  11. Does anyone find this environmentally offensive? Why shouldn’t people with gas guzzlers pay more taxes?

  12. […] My Two Dollars presents pay the miles driven instead of gas taxes. […]