Most of you probably thought you were safe from Washington state's proposed mileage tax targeting hybrid and electric cars that pay less in gas taxes, but the federal government is now considering the same thing, complete with wireless mileage monitoring devices for every car in the country.
The government is having a bit of a problem keeping up with the amount of money required to keep our highways from crumbling into dust, so the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is exploring some new ways of raising revenue. One of these ways could be to implement the system that Washington state has been thinking about: a tax based on mileage, instead of gas consumption, to make sure that hybrid and electric vehicles don't get off for free.
So, how is Uncle Sam going to keep track of your mileage? The plan would be to require all cars to have a mileage tracking device, which would transmit information wirelessly to government tracking receivers at gas stations. These devices would also keep track of when you were driving to be able to charge you more for driving during rush hour, and it's not too much of a stretch to imagine adding in location information to charge extra for driving in city centers. Says the CBD: "Now, electronic metering and billing are making per-mile charges a practical option." Uh, yay, technology?
According to the CBO:
"Any given driver's highway use also imposes costs on other users, on nearby nonusers, on the environment, and on the economy in the form of congestion, risk of accidents, noise, emissions of greenhouse gases and pollutants that affect local air quality, and dependence on foreign oil."
There definitely needs to be a way for the government to collect enough money to pay for the upkeep to and improvement of our transportation infrastructure, and users of this infrastructure (no matter how eco-friendly they are) need to pay their fair share. But at the same time, there has to be an appreciation for the fact that some cars are easier on infrastructure than others. Yes, your SUV and my Leaf (I don't have a Leaf, but let's go with it) might spend the same amount of time traveling the same roads, but I'm going to do it quieter, with less pollution, and less foreign oil dependence than you are, so I should have to pay less.
It's worth mentioning that there are already hefty tax incentives for buying more efficient cars, but the point, I think, is that cars that end up costing the government less should end up paying less taxes, whether it's mileage based or not.
We should make a point that the "CBO's report stressed it was making no recommendations," so you probably don't have a reason to panic just yet. If you were going to panic anyway, don't let us stop you.
Via The Hill