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Old 12-29-08, 01:10 PM   #1
Roughstuff
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Alternative to Gas tax

As an alternative to gas taxes to find transportation, Oregon has begun to investigate using a mileage tax based on a GPS monitor:



.......As part of a transportation-related bill he has filed for the 2009 legislative session, the governor says he plans to recommend “a path to transition away from the gas tax as the central funding source for transportation.”

What that means is explained on the governor’s website:

“As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.”


Perhaps it could be part of a large package...taxes for excess miles, going into inner city regions, speeding etc?

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Old 12-29-08, 01:21 PM   #2
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You know, the irony of it is that, at least in principle, the distance traveled in your vehicle is roughly proportional to the amount of gas you burn, so a gas tax should accomplish the same thing. It also penalizes you for using a fuel-wasteful vehicle.

I'm all in favor of a much more aggressive gas tax, but it needs to be done at the national level to be effective, otherwise everyone here in Portland will go over to Vancouver or Longview to fill up their vehicles.

I like to use the United Kingdom as an example of where I'd like the gas tax to go. When I visited there some time ago, I remember doing a double-take at the posted prices, because they looked very similar to the ones back home. That is, until I realized they were posting pounds per liter.

In this country, we'd have to use a gradual ratchet over five or ten years, but I'd like to eventually have the gas tax high enough that for every $1 that goes into the hands of middle eastern terrorists, we collect $2 or more to kill them. Beyond that, the gas tax could be used to fund alnon-carbon producing technologies.
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Old 12-29-08, 01:23 PM   #3
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I don't get the point of a mileage-based system - it would add unnecessary costs due to the installation of GPSs, and it provides no incentive for anyone to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. If revenue is the problem, then they should just raise the gas tax.
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Old 12-29-08, 01:36 PM   #4
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I don't get the point of a mileage-based system - it would add unnecessary costs due to the installation of GPSs, and it provides no incentive for anyone to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. If revenue is the problem, then they should just raise the gas tax.


You still would have incentive to get better mileage, since you would save on gasoline purchases when compared to a gas guzzler. I think (but am not sure, other folks will chime in on this soon I imagine) that the governor is thinking about the 'infrastructure' costs of vehicles and vehicle miles. After all, providing road and parking space for a 50 mpg prius is just as much as a 20 mpg hummer. Taxing mileage discourages car use, period---regardless of fuel economy.

Raising a tax does not necessarily increase revenue, it depends on how elastic demand is for the item being taxed. Mileage is less elastic than gasoline use, i would imagine, especially in the short run.


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Old 12-29-08, 01:44 PM   #5
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Goverment tells the car makers to use the bail-out money to build fuel efficient cars. That wont be any good for the car makers unless people want to buy them. $4/gal gas tax would provide the incentive to the car buyers, and recover the bail-out money.
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Old 12-29-08, 01:55 PM   #6
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After all, providing road and parking space for a 50 mpg prius is just as much as a 20 mpg hummer. Taxing mileage discourages car use, period---regardless of fuel economy.
Maybe so, but wouldn't a 6000 pound hummer put much more wear and tear on the roads than a 3000 pound prius? This is, of course, going by weight instead of fuel efficiency, but in general the two are related to some degree.
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Old 12-29-08, 01:59 PM   #7
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Just think, with the GPS system, they(govt.) would know exactly where to find you, in case of an emergancy.
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Old 12-29-08, 02:05 PM   #8
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Maybe so, but wouldn't a 6000 pound hummer put much more wear and tear on the roads than a 3000 pound prius? This is, of course, going by weight instead of fuel efficiency, but in general the two are related to some degree.
Yes I was gonna toss that in. Some of that cost is captured in the excise tax.

The way i look at it, we should structure the these local taxes to encourage people to drive (1) less, (2) smaller cars, (3) more fuel efficient cars and (4) safer cars.

Thus to me a comprehensive tax statement, similar to what you get from an insurance company when you buy a policy, should have tax components based on (1) mileage accrued, (2) footprint, (3) fuel economy, and (4) safety record as compiled by insurance companies and other such agencies.

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Old 12-29-08, 02:12 PM   #9
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After all, providing road and parking space for a 50 mpg prius is just as much as a 20 mpg hummer.
Not really. A Hummer is much heavier than a Prius, which puts more wear and tear on the roads, which means more repaving etc.

Also I am sure you are not trying to be accurate, but if you can find a hummer that gets anywhere near 20mpg I would be impressed.

Call me paranoid, but the whole GPS tracking thing bugs me too. I can see that getting seriously abused.

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Old 12-29-08, 02:50 PM   #10
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why not simply use the odometer and tax the vehicle based on ton/miles traveled?
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Old 12-29-08, 02:57 PM   #11
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The cost of implementing and enforcing a GPS based tax would make it stupid to implement, and I strongly suspect that there would quickly be some technological whiz kids out there selling devices to defeat the system as well.

Also, it would mean that people visiting from out of town would use the roads without contributing as they do with gas taxes. While it is true that many people passing through don't buy gas in a particular area, at least some do...

By raising gas taxes, it uses existing methodologies and protections, and costs virtually nothing to implement.
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Old 12-29-08, 03:01 PM   #12
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why not simply use the odometer and tax the vehicle based on ton/miles traveled?



and also: Call me paranoid, but the whole GPS tracking thing bugs me too. I can see that getting seriously abused.

Does it seem to be overkill? More easily done with what we already know?

Not sure what mpg IS for a hummer..never had one. Maybe 20 mpg downhill, though?

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Old 12-29-08, 03:32 PM   #13
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Not sure what mpg IS for a hummer..never had one. Maybe 20 mpg downhill, though?

rouughstuff
Well that is probably fair. It is tough to find the MPG for a Hummer because for the H1 and H2 they are so heavy that they are not required to post MPG. But the smallest of the bunch, the H3 gets about 14MPH. Tested MPH for the H2 models is around 8-10mph.

Oh and the H2 comes in at close to 9000 pounds.

Just FYI

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Old 12-29-08, 06:09 PM   #14
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They have discussed going with an odometer based tax in NC. I have $50 that says it will be an add on to the current gas taxes. The other thing I question is how are they going to decide how many miles I actually drove in NC? FWIW I drove approximately 41,000 miles last year. I haven't broken out the numbers yet, but I suspect that the mileage driven in NC will be about 15% of that, the rest was out of state. That is one place the GPS system might make a difference. But as mentioned I am not real keen on that idea either for a variety of reasons. Personally I think they need to raise the total gas tax at the federal level and redistribute it to the states based on either population/cars registered/average miles driven/or??

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Old 12-29-08, 06:29 PM   #15
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There is the Carbon Tax and then there is BS.

Denmark has a Carbon Tax and uses the proceeds to help alternative energy.
They are now the world leader in alternative energy, and you can expect the lead to grow.
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Old 12-29-08, 09:09 PM   #16
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How about making your annual registration, vehicle tax or whatever you call it strictly based on weight. Say, 5 cents a pound. So my 3OOO lb Honda would be about $150 a year to register. A 9000 SUV would be triple that.

Make this the fee regardless of the value of the vehicle. That way, your registration costs go down, not up, when you trade in your old tank for a newer, smaller car. Would help stimulate the auto industry as well.
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Old 12-29-08, 11:52 PM   #17
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With gas so cheap, now is the perfect time to raise the gas tax. It would help encourage folks to drive less and/or drive smaller cars, and it would help close the deficit.

I say raise it 25 cents per year, for each of the next 10 years.

That would phase it in, and gradually put the squeeze on the big SUV's and pickups.

Each additional penny in gas taxes, will raise about $1 billion.

Last edited by SSP; 12-30-08 at 09:00 AM.
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Old 12-30-08, 01:27 AM   #18
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I don't get the point of a mileage-based system - it would add unnecessary costs due to the installation of GPSs, and it provides no incentive for anyone to buy a more fuel efficient vehicle. If revenue is the problem, then they should just raise the gas tax.
As long as we're becoming a banana republic, why not just borrow more money from the Chinese to pay for whatever we need to pay for? What's the problem. I think that's kind of where we're headed with this.
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Old 12-30-08, 07:43 AM   #19
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I got a great ideal.

How about the government look at reductions in spending?
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Old 01-05-09, 04:15 AM   #20
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hmm cut government spending.. sure... lets start with the ten billion dollars a day spent in Iraq//afganistan

how about billions in no bid contracts to connected contractors?

How about we just quit maintaining the roads, or put tolls on them so you have to pay to play?

The thing is that everyone wants government services, but no one wants to pay for them. Freeways aint free son, they just call em that.

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Old 01-05-09, 04:32 AM   #21
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why not simply use the odometer and tax the vehicle based on ton/miles traveled?
They say they only want to charge for driving within Oregon. If you just reported your odometer mileage, they'd either have to charge for all mileage or take your word that 95% of your driving was across the border in Washington.
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Old 01-05-09, 04:44 AM   #22
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I'd like to eventually have the gas tax high enough that for every $1 that goes into the hands of middle eastern terrorists, we collect $2 or more to kill them.
Sounds like a can't-go-wrong solution, dog. Could be called the 'National Kill a Terrorist Fund', or the 'Totally Justifiable War Fund'.

Is that the Dalai Lama in your avatar? Sweet, sweet irony.
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Old 01-05-09, 06:54 AM   #23
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Why is it that nobody questions why they need more money? If people aren't driving as much, then destruction to roads should be down, and the need for DOT employees should be down. Itstead of raising taxes (everywhere, not just gas) why don't they offer breaks and incentives for citizens that help keep costs down? Higher taxes create tax cheats.
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Old 01-05-09, 09:08 AM   #24
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How about making your annual registration, vehicle tax or whatever you call it strictly based on weight. Say, 5 cents a pound. So my 3OOO lb Honda would be about $150 a year to register. A 9000 SUV would be triple that.

Make this the fee regardless of the value of the vehicle. That way, your registration costs go down, not up, when you trade in your old tank for a newer, smaller car. Would help stimulate the auto industry as well.
I like that idea, but the increased tax for increased weight should not be proportional. The damage that a vehicle does to roadways goes up by the fourth power of axle weight...so, the 9000 lb SUV should pay about 8-10 times the tax on your Honda.

To be fair, there would have to be some sort of rebates or lowered rates for business vehicles...but, done with care so the dentist with a Hummer doesn't get to avoid the extra fees.
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Old 01-08-09, 06:38 PM   #25
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I have two questions:
1) How much revenue is generated from current federal and state gas taxes?
2) How much money is required to maintain current roads, only money spent on roads for vehicles that pay taxes?

Then we'd know if we really need new taxes.
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