Taxes By The Mile?
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
They are testing the waters again in Washington. Always looking for an opportunity to take advantage of a crisis to squeeze even more money from the taxpayers of America.
The crisis? The US government's highway fund is going broke. (Is it just me -- or am I the only American tired of lurching from one crisis to another on what seems like a daily basis?)
There is a proposal being floated about (again!) in “Foggy Bottom” to tax US drivers for every mile they drive in their cars, trucks, vans, SUV’s, or whatever. Last time they brought this scheme up the Congressional Budget Office referred to it as the “Vehicle Mile Tax” or VMT.
Here’s what has happened: Due to the high per gallon price of gasoline many drivers have greatly reduced the use of their cars and trucks. My truck, for instance, is virtually parked. I drive it one or twice a week and then only on short hops -- all within the city limits. My truck is ten years old but has only about 50,000 miles on it. But it uses more gasoline than the family Buick. So it remains parked.
It would seem that most American families are doing the same thing or something very much akin to it.
(Yes, Virginia, there REALLY is a Law of Unintended Consequences!)
A huge portion of the per gallon price of gasoline is state and federal taxes. So, you can imagine that when Americans began driving less and using less gasoline, the tax stream from gasoline into the tax coffers of the states and the federal government went from a roaring stream to a trickle. And THAT got the attention of the “taxaholics” in Washington, DC and in the states. Thus the proposal to tax American drivers for every mile they drive -- and that is on top of the taxes we are already paying on every gallon of gasoline we purchase.
From an article in the Washington Examiner we learn: "The average driver pays about $96 a year in federal gas taxes, said GAO. Should the administration seek to raise the highway trust fund from $34 billion to the $78 billion needed to fix and maintain roads, that could rise to $248. Translated into a pay-per-mile plan, drivers would face a tax of 2.2 cents per mile compared to the 0.9 cents they pay now. Trucks would pay far more." SOURCE: http://washingtonexaminer.com/new-pay-per-mile-scheme-would-boost-taxes-250-percent/article/2518504#.UPWVTfJ0jTi
The article in the Washington Examiner offers a quote from some luminary at the GAO as follows: "We modeled the average mileage fee rates that would be needed for passenger vehicles and commercial trucks to meet three illustrative Highway Trust Fund revenue targets ranging from about $34 billion to $78.4 billion per year. To meet these targets, a driver of a passenger vehicle with average fuel efficiency would pay from $108 to $248 per year in mileage fees compared to the $96 they currently pay annually in federal gasoline tax," said GAO." SOURCE: http://washingtonexaminer.com/new-pay-per-mile-scheme-would-boost-taxes-250-percent/article/2518504#.UPWVTfJ0jTi
I must tell you that my state, North Carolina, has one of the highest taxes on gasoline of any state in the Union. So, when I heard about the “mileage tax” proposal, it got my attention.
Just so we are clear: I HATE the idea!
Back in 2008, here in North Carolina, something called the 21st Century Transportation Committee recommended the state adopt a “taxes by the mile” plan. As I understood the proposal, the state would carefully record the miles each Tar Heel driver drove, over the preceding twelve months, and the vehicle’s owner would be charged the appropriate amount in taxes for each mile driven. As North Carolinians take their cars in each year for the mandated annual state inspection (which by itself is a gigantic tax scheme!) The mileage on the odometer would have been recorded. This was to be the source of the mileage figures used to tax NC drivers. Transportation experts told us then that sometime later the state could switch to GPS tracking of NC Drivers. This scheme was called the “Road Use Tax.”
It is interesting to note that North Carolina HAD a Democratic Party controlled legislature in 2008.
So what happened? The NC voters told the Democrats in the NC Legislature to hit the very road they wanted to tax -- and replaced them with a Republican controlled legislature. Now North Carolina has a republican controlled General Assembly AND a republican governor. The first time the North Carolina legislature has been solely controlled by republicans since 1870.
Oregon and California have also considered imposing such road taxes on their citizens, as well. We suggest they take a look at what happened in North Carolina before proceeding.
The fact that driver’s pockets would be picked by a “tax by the mile” (Vehicle Mile Tax) road tax was just too much for the North Carolina voters to stomach.
There is another disturbing aspect of these mileage tax rip-offs; the device attached to our cars would also emit a signal, much as a GPS device does, that would allow the government to know where we are, in our car, at all times
Sounds incredible, does it not? THAT HAS been suggested. More than likely, it would be continuous tracking of our road miles. Either way, it is just more big brother government intrusion into our lives.
Look: US drivers pay approximately 35 billion dollars (plus) in federal gasoline taxes annually. You’d think our highways would be paved in gold rather than asphalt!
This whole thing smacks of another trick by the liberal-socialists to herd Americans into mass transit. It is all a part of the “green agenda” to deprive Americans of their celebration of freedom – the automobile – in favor of bicycles, trolleys, and commuter trains, etc. ( I can just visualize empty commuter trains gliding along rusted rails through the piney woods and swamps of North Carolina. Oh, WAIT! We already have AMTRAK!)
“Motorists are one of the most overtaxed groups in America, and the automobile has done more to enable this country’s economic success than any other invention.” SOURCE: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/mar/25/cbos-toll-road-fib/
I am inclined to believe this is more of the leftist agenda to dismantle America until it becomes just another third-world country.
It is unarguably more of the socialist/democrats tax and spend, tax and spend, agenda. Hey! They NEED the money to buy votes! I mean, someone has to pay for the Obamaphones, right?
© J. D. Longstreet