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2/15/2005

Tax by the Mile - States are Saying, “You Feel Me?”

Filed under: — GM Guy @ 8:52 am

Let’s say you have a pang of conscience, or are just tired of huge gasoline bills, and go out and spend the extra dough on one of these new hybrid cars or SUVs. Now you are getting significantly better gas mileage, aren’t spending your kid’s college money at the pump, and generally feel better about yourself because you are doing something good for the environment, too. But noooooooooooooo! What you are really doing, according to the EPA and states like California and Oregon, is hurting the state’s economies by lowering the revenue they get from gasoline taxes. Less fuel bought = less taxes collected = “We’re really gonna git you now, sucka’!”

So, facing declining tax revenues, what’s a future-thinking state legislature gonna do? Well, cars are “smart” now, they have computers in them and everything! They keep track of how fast you drive, how much time the vehicle spends at any given speed, like driving in stop-&-go traffic, etc. Most are even equipped with a GPS (global positioning satellite) device — think “On Star” from GM — that lets the car know exactly where it is on the planet to within a foot or so. Here’s where it gets real fun. CBSNews reports today that some states, facing projected reductions in fuel tax revenue due to increased use of more fuel efficient vehicles will have to start taxing motorist “by the mile".

Officials in car-clogged California are so worried they may be considering a replacement for the gas tax altogether, replacing it with something called “tax by the mile.”

Seeing tax dollars dwindling, neighboring Oregon has already started road testing the idea.

“Drivers will get charged for how many miles they use the roads, and it’s as simple as that,” says engineer David Kim.

As outlined above, they can track you via your GPS system to monitor “where” you drive, in the city or in rural areas, and via the car’s computer to track “when” you drive, during rush hour, middle of the night, etc. CBS goes on:

The new tax would be charged each time you fill up. A computer inside the gas pump would communicate with your car’s odometer to calculate how much you owe.

The system could also track how often you drive during rush hour and charge higher fees to discourage peak use. That’s an idea that could break the bottleneck on California’s freeways.

So go ahead and buy that Honda Insight, Toyota Prius or Ford Escape hybrid, pay the extra three grand over a regular vehicle, and sleep better at night, all while knowing that you are hastening the days of Big Brother that Mr. Orwell predicted way back in 1848.

BTG Motoring, for all your car, truck or SUV parts and accessories

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