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  1. #1
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    Oregon proposed GPS determined mileage tax.

    There have been a few threads recently about taxing cyclists. Today KATU news aired an email from a viewer about the proposed GPS determined mileage tax here in Oregon. The viewer claimed the talk of additional motorist taxes made his "blood boil" and that "cyclists should be taxed instead of getting a free ride", or words to that effect.

    I am extremely keen on reasonable taxes for both motorists and cyclists that are based on usage of infrastructure, but only if property taxes are reduced proportionately.

    In both cases such reasonable taxes would be based on vehicle weight and miles traveled.

    The current proposal for vehicles in Oregon is based on the use of an in-car GPS unit that communicates with gasoline pumps to report the number of miles driven. The inclusion of vehicle factory weight as opposed to actual weight ought to be a trivial matter.

    Example cost for motorist: a 2,000 lb vehicle traveling 12,000 miles, gives 24 million lb-miles per annum, and at 0.1 cents per pound-mile a tax of $24,000

    For cyclists, determining distance traveled is obviously a challenge, as is collecting the tax since cyclists do not visit gasoline pumps Cyclists do on the other hand purchase bicycle tires, internet orders aside it would be a trivial matter to add a small tax to bicycle tires.

    Example cost for cyclist: a 28 lb vehicle traveling 1,000 miles, gives 56,000 lb-miles per annum, and at 0.1 cents per pound-mile a tax of $28 (or $14 per tire).

    Edit: Cyclist tax would be discounted for:
    • roads not accessible to cyclists (Interstates)
    • reduced costs to society associated with cycling health benefits.
    • reduced costs to society associated with cleaning up and investigating accidents

    Resulting in tax credit to cyclists of $14 per tire.
    Last edited by HoustonB; 12-31-08 at 09:31 PM.
    LOL The End is Nigh (for 80% of middle class North Americans) - I sneer in their general direction.

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    I suspect that the cost of developing a GPS unit and toll system for it and actually enforcing would outweight the cost of the taxes gained from using it...

  3. #3
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    Silly Oregonians.

    There is a simple way to tax people based on the number of miles driven. It's called the gasoline tax. Out-of-state visitors to Oregon have to pay it too.

    It isn't precisely mileage based, because big cars burn more gas. That's the best thing of all. It rewards drivers who opt to use smaller and more efficient cars. That's a much more effective way to tax vehicles than determining "pound-miles".

    I am keeping my fingers crossed, hoping that Barack Obama and his administration will have the wisdom and the courage to raise the federal gasoline tax. They could return a pro-rata share of it to the states where it is collected, for road maintenance and highway safety. Eventually, the bailout has to be paid for. Let's do it by raising taxes on a commodity that drains our balance of payments and trade deficit by hundreds of billions a year. What a great incentive for more Americans to change their lifestyles and use bicycles more.

    The gasoline tax should logically be the mechanism to pay for our foolish adventure in Iraq, which we will have to pay for eventually. (Under Bush, we ran up huge federal deficits, even though our economy was rapidly expanding because of the mortgage bubble.)

    Want to collect a little from bicyclists too? I have no problem with that. An excise tax on tires for all vehicles, cars, trucks, bicycles, etc will do the job efficiently. Most of us heavy users of bicycles buy 1-2 sets of tires a year. A 10% to 15% tax on tires could be collected efficiently, and it would make a contribution, albeit a small one. But we don't really add very much as cyclists to the cost of maintaining the highways.
    Last edited by metzenberg; 01-01-09 at 09:53 PM.

  4. #4
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    It is not "silly Oregonians" that are proposing this, it is the Governor.

    This is covered by Slashdot and on the Crosscut blog.

    The logic is actually pretty straightforward and entirely reasonable in addition to being forward thinking. If a significant proportion of vehicles in the future go further on less gas, then gasoline tax revenues based on simplistic percentages of gasoline purchases are doomed to forever diminish. Whilst the cost of maintaining the infrastructure is most likely to increase due to continued dilution of the fiat dollar (1) and increases in the value of oil (2) once peak oil is truly realized.

    Moving to a per mile charge is entirely reasonable, but only if vehicle weight is considered. In my estimation their is a significant probability that the current economic crisis is just the start of something much more prolonged. In the long run, most people are not going to be able to afford to operate a car. So no amount of tweaking the system is going to get the Governor the revenue he is seeking. We can all expect to see cities large and small engaged in fiscal triage very soon.

    1. The dollar has been dropping in value since inception, so not much chance of that process reversing any time soon.
    2. Oil being one of the major costs associated with creating and maintaining roads.

    Edit: How much 'gasoline' tax would one expect an all electric or solar powered car (not that many exist yet) to pay?
    Last edited by HoustonB; 01-02-09 at 12:24 AM.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Oregon hasn't passed a gas tax increase in something like 20 years.

    A weight-based vehicle registration fee is also another option. Banning or heavily taxing studded tires wouldn't be a bad idea either.

    and personally, in exchange, I'd rather see my income tax go down before my property tax.

    but the chance of any of this happening is probably as good as the chance of the Oregon legislature passing a sales tax.


  6. #6
    tilt head to right Alpha52's Avatar
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    Another example of liberals run amok. Oppose all taxes, new laws and government intervention of any kind. They are incompetent boobs...all of them!

  7. #7
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    ^^

    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

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    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    A weight-based vehicle registration fee is also another option. Banning or heavily taxing studded tires wouldn't be a bad idea either.
    You think cyclists shouldn't be allowed to use studded tires?

    The part about all of this that alarms me is the use of GPS. Tinfoil hat time for sure, but I don't trust that it would only be used for tax purposes. Every time I go to register a vehicle, I provide the vehicle description--which could as easily cross reference to weight in a database as it references original sales prices now--and milage. It would be a no-brainer for a tax to be applied at that point based on some formula for milage and weight, instead of some costly GPS implementation.

  9. #9
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    ^^^ In P&R I bored all with a plan that used a ratio of tare volume and impact upon
    area of vehicles primary location. Tax size. An SUV is going to take up the space
    of 3 SMART cars, 4 Motorcycles, 6 Scooters, 30 bicycles, etc, etc.....I places like
    Manhattan for instance, space is critical. If someone wants to drive an SUV in the
    city, they should pay for the inconvenience it will put on other people during usage.
    Bigger cities could make a lot of revenue from people who say they 'need' them.
    -ADVOCACY-☜ Radical VC = Car people on bikes. Just say "NO"

  10. #10
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha52 View Post
    Another example of liberals run amok. Oppose all taxes, new laws and government intervention of any kind. They are incompetent boobs...all of them!

    Well, moneys spent on transportation have one of the greatest payoffs of all. Efficient transportation---highways and limited access roads, despite a role for other means of transport---has been a key to economic and military security since Roman times. (It takes a while for this to sink in, with some folks!) Almost the entire post WWII boom was carried on the backs of the interstate highway system.

    Thus it is important for a transportation system to pay for itself to remain viable. This is why mass-transit bus and light rail systems are such systematic failures...they need massive in-cash subsidies from non users for the passengers (usually white, wealthy and latte-bearing) to be able to 'afford' it.

    The gas tax is a good idea, but it is not flexible enough. A GPS based system ican be....

    According to a draft of the financing commission's recommendations, the nation needs to move to a new system that taxes motorists according to how much they use roads. While details have not been worked out, such a system would mean equipping every car and truck with a device that uses global positioning satellites and transponders to record how many miles the vehicle has been driven, and perhaps the type of roads and time of day.


    This allows us to adjust fees based on peak load pricing, the cost of the road that you take; the speed that you go; etc. Furthermore GPS based systems are an important adjunct to the development of 'smart cars' that are automatically rerouted to avoid jammed areas; that monitor the distance to cars nearby and adjust speed and lane accordingly, etc.

    I support GPS type funding proposals; and to make them politically palatable and revenue neutral, the gas tax could be eliminated entirely.

    roughstuff
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  11. #11
    BEHOLD! THE MANTICORE! rotharpunc's Avatar
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    There are alot of problems with this. Where would the GPS come from? I could see it being mandated in new cars, but would people realistically have these retrofitted into their cars? I know I would not if I owned a car, even if it meant forgoing registration and driving illegally, not to avoid the gas tax, but simply becasue the expense of it along with the percived violation of privacy would be too much to bare. And how would people from other states be taxed?

    Also, I wonder when these laws are taken into consideration, what about people like my mom and grandma who are in too poor of physical condition due to illness to be able to travel by foot or bike, and lack access to public transportation, and even if they did have access it would be unsafe to use due to having to wait outside in very cold tempatures that could cause further health problems. They drive a small 4 clyinder 4X4 SUV. They chose this vehicle based on two things: the four wheel drive for safety in poor weather(they are physically unable to shovel/financially unable to pay someone to do it and sometimes 4X4 is needed just to get in and out of their driveway), and the small SUV was chosen because they decided it was better to get a slightly larger vehicle becasue it would be better in all aspects to have room to make one large trip per week rather than several small trips(mom works from home and has to send out a bunch of packages a week).

    Should they have to pay a higher tax on their slightly larger vehicle despite the fact that their use of it has far less impact than a person commuting daily in a smart car? Where are things like disabilities/handicaps taken into consideration(IE: a person in a wheelchair has little choice but to drive a van equipped for a lift)?

    I would be more likely to support some sort of a card that is issued to people which is required to activate a gas pump which tracks fuel usage without actually tracking a vehicles movements and incrementally increases the gas tax the more fuel is consumed over a certain period with consessions being made to disabled/ handicapped/other people who have to drive(such as an exemption card being provided to pizza drivers being paid minimum wage during work hours). While I know that idea isn't without flaws and potential for abuse, it would for the most part work and could be easily integrated with the existing infastructure.

  12. #12
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rotharpunc View Post
    .......While I know that idea isn't without flaws and potential for abuse, it would for the most part work and could be easily integrated with the existing infastructure.

    Hmmmm...certainly a realistic list of problems and alternatives. Its hard to say whether this makes a GPS based system impossible, or just difficult to implement; and ineffective, or just less flawed, when compared to our present gas tax based system. While I am sympathetic with many of the 'freedom' arguments, I think of use ouf our highways and roadways as a privilege; and there are already so many restrictions (even if they are difficult to enforce e.g. cell phones) that it is hard to believe a GPS monitor would seriously rent our social fabric.

    To me the point is we need to switch to a tax based on ROAD USAGE, rather than fuel usage. A tax on the latter puts the government in the unenviable position of lamenting fuel efficiency and conservation (since it dings revenue), much like many states are crying about revenues lost from the cigarette tax as the number of smokers declines.

    In contrast, a USAGE tax would more directly (but not perfectly) relate to the costs of vehicle travel since it can be adjusted for peak hours, central cities; vehicle size, weight, and speed (including automatic speeding tickets); and so on. So your grandma would pay less since she uses her SUV less than some hoity toity Volvo compact car who drives to work six days a week.

    By the way a usage tax needn't be GPS based, we are kind of hung up on GPS as a new technology; but there are on-the-ground techniques we can use to assess tolls and fees as well. But it seems to me as technology and GPS become more widespread its advantages become compelling.

    roughstuff
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  13. #13
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
    ...there are already so many restrictions (even if they are difficult to enforce e.g. cell phones) that it is hard to believe a GPS monitor would seriously rent our social fabric.
    All fun and games until you get a ticket in the mail because you exceeded the speed limit and your GPS automatically snitched you out...

    Someone tell me again why a cross referenced list of vehicle curb weights along with the current milage of a car when annually re-registering wouldn't effect the same policy. Why is the GPS unit a necessity in all this?

  14. #14
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    You think cyclists shouldn't be allowed to use studded tires?
    I'm talking about studded tires on motor vehicles, reading comprehension not so good eh?

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    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    All fun and games until you get a ticket in the mail because you exceeded the speed limit and your GPS automatically snitched you out...
    and this would be a bad thing exactly how? speeding is both one of the most common and one of the most dangerous road misbehaviours.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Booger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    and this would be a bad thing exactly how? speeding is both one of the most common and one of the most dangerous road misbehaviours.

    Nope. Driving faster than conditions and circumstances allow is dangerous. The gubbermint enforcing artificially low speed limits (Oregon has the lowest in the country) is an easy way to generate a ton of revenue. Big difference. If you can't see how handing over that kind of power to government bureaucrats is a recipe for total failure...

    Speaking of revenue, is anyone else disturbed by the government mentality of this? While everyone else is struggling to get by with less, the government is simply finding ways to increase taxes. "Want to be more efficient? Too bad. We're going to get paid anyway."

  17. #17
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xenologer View Post
    I suspect that the cost of developing a GPS unit and toll system for it and actually enforcing would outweight the cost of the taxes gained from using it...
    You're probably right -- especially since there's already a taxing situation in place that works well. GPS units wouldn't mean more tax, just more accurately measured tax.

    Considering that 99% of cars on the road are powered by gasoline or diesel, and there is a very strong correlation between fuel used and wear and tear put on the roads (more weight = more gas used, more miles driven = more gas used, driving faster = more gas used, etc.), it seems to me that you should just ditch the idea of a GPS monitor and just increase the gasoline/diesel tax by an appropriate amount (and reduce property and sales taxes, though I wouldn't hold my breath on that part) and let the rest even out. I'll bet the push for GPS monitoring systems is being lobbied by Garmin or Magellan or somebody similar

    This really only starts to fall apart once we get more cars powered by electricity, LPG (though perhaps it can be taxed just like gas), compressed air, etc. For now, we can let those cars slide because there's not many of them (and we can tell ourselves that they're saving the planet), but as they become more common we could mandate some other taxing method (a mileage based tax measured by GPS would work fine) for those cars.

  18. #18
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger View Post
    Nope. Driving faster than conditions and circumstances allow is dangerous. The gubbermint enforcing artificially low speed limits (Oregon has the lowest in the country) is an easy way to generate a ton of revenue. Big difference. If you can't see how handing over that kind of power to government bureaucrats is a recipe for total failure...

    Speaking of revenue, is anyone else disturbed by the government mentality of this? While everyone else is struggling to get by with less, the government is simply finding ways to increase taxes. "Want to be more efficient? Too bad. We're going to get paid anyway."
    yeah, people drive too slow in Oregon for the public safety officials to even bother with them and it's all one big gubmint conspiracy to steal your money and your freedom




  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Booger View Post
    Speaking of revenue, is anyone else disturbed by the government mentality of this? While everyone else is struggling to get by with less, the government is simply finding ways to increase taxes. "Want to be more efficient? Too bad. We're going to get paid anyway."
    Paul Krugman, a Nobel Prize winning economist, feels that the way out of this recession is government spending. With consumer spending down, if governments cut back on spending the recession would only worsen. If governments pay unemployed skilled construction workers to improve infrastructure, this puts money in the hands of people who otherwise wouldn't have it. They can then spend which in turn... ie-the mutiplier effect.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by metzenberg View Post
    Silly Oregonians.

    There is a simple way to tax people based on the number of miles driven. It's called the gasoline tax. Out-of-state visitors to Oregon have to pay it too.

    It isn't precisely mileage based, because big cars burn more gas. That's the best thing of all. It rewards drivers who opt to use smaller and more efficient cars. That's a much more effective way to tax vehicles than determining "pound-miles". ...
    Bingo! I concur.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rotharpunc View Post
    There are alot of problems with this. Where would the GPS come from? I could see it being mandated in new cars, but would people realistically have these retrofitted into their cars? I know I would not if I owned a car, even if it meant forgoing registration and driving illegally, not to avoid the gas tax, but simply becasue the expense of it along with the percived violation of privacy would be too much to bare. And how would people from other states be taxed?
    Oh please God, no. Don't go baring anything. Nobody want's to see that! Figure out how to use English, please.

    And more to the point: OnStar. For those of you who own a new GM car, they are all already fitted with GPS tracking as part of OnStar Communications. OnStar has been a standard feature in GM vehicles for three model years already.

    So placing GPS into cars is already happening. This is just a new way of using the technology. Get this, according to the internets, OnStar, starting in 2009 GM cars, will have technology to automatically slow the car down if it is reported stolen to assist police in catching the car thief. And you were worried about your taxes...
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    and this would be a bad thing exactly how? speeding is both one of the most common and one of the most dangerous road misbehaviours.
    It would be interesting to see how cyclists react when they receive that ticket in the mail for speeding while going downhill.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  23. #23
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by randya View Post
    I'm talking about studded tires on motor vehicles, reading comprehension not so good eh?
    Reading comprehension A-OK--so studded tires on bikes would be OK but not on cars? Because bikes are special vehicles deserving special treatment or something? How 'bout everyone gets to keep their studded tires--deal? 'Cause it wouldn't be too long after cycling advocates started harping on auto studded tires before car advocates would point out the double standard. No matter if studded bike tires make as negligible a difference as regular tires when comparing a bike vs. even an unstudded car, there's still the perception of a double standard that you'd have to deal with if you make studded tires one of your battels.

    It would be a shame to waste cycling advocacy political capital on something like a studded tire ban. Those tires could keep some winter driver from crashing into you... Anything that keeps drivers in control on the roads and out of ditches and accidents is a plus to me.

  24. #24
    Senior Member randya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mconlonx View Post
    Reading comprehension A-OK--so studded tires on bikes would be OK but not on cars? Because bikes are special vehicles deserving special treatment or something? How 'bout everyone gets to keep their studded tires--deal? 'Cause it wouldn't be too long after cycling advocates started harping on auto studded tires before car advocates would point out the double standard. No matter if studded bike tires make as negligible a difference as regular tires when comparing a bike vs. even an unstudded car, there's still the perception of a double standard that you'd have to deal with if you make studded tires one of your battels.

    It would be a shame to waste cycling advocacy political capital on something like a studded tire ban. Those tires could keep some winter driver from crashing into you... Anything that keeps drivers in control on the roads and out of ditches and accidents is a plus to me.
    studded tires on MVs cause tens of millions of dollars in premature damage to road surfaces each year in Oregon, they are a terrible deal from a fiscal responsibility POV, and from the point of view of a driver who suddenly finds themselves hydroplaning in the water that collects in the stud ruts.

    Just one example - I-84 through the Parkrose-Gresham-Troutdale corridor was widened and paved with brand new concrete that should have lasted 50 years back in the mid-90s; now, less than 15 years later, this stretch of road is almost undriveable in certain weather conditions due to the stud ruts.

    At best you might need studded tires on your MV for a week or so each year in Portland, yet the state allows you to leave them on for five months. Studded tires are for people who are too lazy to use chains or who are too stubborn or too stupid to stay home when weather conditions are unfavorable. From a fiscal point of view those motorists who don't use studded tires heavily subsidize the much smaller percentage of motorists who do use them.

    studded tires on bikes = non-issue as far as road damage goes.

    making studded tires a bike advocacy 'battle' = mconlonx's strawman



    mconlonx's libertarian ideology = questionable WRT to bike advocacy at any level



    Last edited by randya; 01-02-09 at 08:56 PM.

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    The thought of any new or increased tax of any kind makes me ill. We just watched our government throw billions toward failing private companies, why should we trust them with more money? Federal, state, or local. I can tell you now that PA roads are terrible and have been for years. A new tax won't change a thing. I can't imagine Oregon being different.

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