What’s a government to do when its citizens take its advice and cut down their gasoline usage, leading to a decrease in the amount of gasoline taxes collected? Tax people more for something else, of course. Transportation secretary says taxing how much we drive may replace gasoline tax
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he wants to consider taxing motorists based on how many miles they drive rather than how much gasoline they burn — an idea that has angered drivers in some states where it has been proposed.
Gasoline taxes that for nearly half a century have paid for the federal share of highway and bridge construction can no longer be counted on to raise enough money to keep the nation’s transportation system moving, LaHood said in an interview with The Associated Press.
How would this Vehicular Motor Tax and the rest of the plan work?
Besides a VMT tax, more tolls for highways and bridges and more government partnerships with business to finance transportation projects are other funding options, LaHood, one of two Republicans in President Barack Obama’s Cabinet, said in the interview Thursday.
…The system would require all cars and trucks be equipped with global satellite positioning technology, a transponder, a clock and other equipment to record how many miles a vehicle was driven, whether it was driven on highways or secondary roads, and even whether it was driven during peak traffic periods or off-peak hours.
The device would tally how much tax motorists owed depending upon their road use. Motorists would pay the amount owed when it was downloaded, probably at gas stations at first, but an alternative eventually would be needed.
So does this mean that Federal gasoline taxes will be abolished? I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. Call me crazy, but I suspect this will be in addition to those taxes. And that still leaves the matter of state and local taxes on gas. They’re pretty hefty in a lot of places and bring in lots of money. I don’t see local governments setting that cash cow loose.
And how do you like the idea of having your driving habits tracked every minute of every day? No potential for abuse there, is there? The article assures us that that fear is all in our heads:
Privacy concerns are based more on perception than any actual risk, Atkinson said. The satellite information would be beamed one way to the car and driving information would be contained within the device on the car, with the amount of the tax due the only information that’s downloaded, he said.
Welcome to Data Base Heaven, where your life is an open book, to anyone who cares to look. Just ask Joe the Plumber.
Update: Never mind.