The Oregon Department of Transportation is planning to transition away from gas tax and into a GPS-enabled mileage taxation model. $20 million will be required just to see if the new taxation model is commercially viable and of course taxpayers will pay for this. The program would use hardware attached to gas pumps to track the amount of gas consumed and some sort of GPS device attached to each vehicle to track mileage. During a 2007 test run with 300 drivers, the tax ended up costing drivers 1.2 cents per mile but also included a refund of the state’s 24 cents per gallon gas tax.
Of course a program like this has all kinds of potential issues. Privacy is number one. Oregon citizens are concerned that GPS devices could be used by government to monitor where a vehicle travels and then potentially store that information. The Oregon government states that GPS would only be used to track mileage. There is also the potential for rural Oregon citizens to pay more than their fair share of taxes due to more travel than urban residents. Then there is the issue of public versus private property. Will citizens have to pay mileage tax for driving on private property that’s already taxed? What about public roads that aren’t maintained? Will citizens have to pay taxes for travel on roads that the government spends no money on?
This is a tough issue. I understand that governments have to find new ways to raise money in order to function, especially as vehicles become more fuel efficient. But this is a program that has all kinds of roadblocks and would probably cost $100’s of millions to implement–all contributed from Oregon taxpayers. What do you think? Should the mileage tax fly?
Earlier in December, the European Commission, in a similar move, said it was considering an import tax on GPS-equipped mobile phones.
(Image Credit: Infinite Wilderness)