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Old 07-19-09, 08:11 PM   #1
ablang
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To Tax, Or Not To Tax?

To Tax, Or Not To Tax?
July 19th, 2009 by Andrew

http://bikehacks.com/to-tax-or-not-to-tax/

Back in March we had a post on Wayne Kriger and House Bill 3008 here
in Oregon. Now right across the river in Vancouver, WA a comment by
Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart has sparked debate on whether
or not cyclists should pay a fee or be taxed to cycle. The Columbian
reports:

“As a bicyclist, I would pay a licensing fee if I had better trail
access,” Commissioner Steve Stuart said in a work session on bicycle
and pedestrian routes in the county. “We license our dogs. You license
your car. Why wouldn’t you license your bikes?” Later Wednesday,
Stuart said he wasn’t sure whether a fee could be made mandatory, or
how high it’d be. ”For my dogs, I think it’s $16 a year,” Stuart
said. “I can’t imagine even suggesting something higher than that. And
I imagine something significantly lower.” Stuart said any fee revenue
would go toward threading bike lanes and paths through neighborhoods
that were built before the county started including bike lanes on all
major streets.

As the recession increasingly affects local governments, new sources
of revenue are going to be sought after. Is taxing cyclists or
imposing a fee to ride really the best option?
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Old 07-20-09, 04:30 AM   #2
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Yet another clueless politician. I pay taxes on my taxes now. Better use of the existing income stream before they are allowed to implement any new form of taxes.

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Old 07-20-09, 04:43 AM   #3
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Didn't we just celebrate a holiday that was a result of taxation?
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Old 07-20-09, 05:50 AM   #4
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At $16, it would be nothing more than a nuisance tax, and wouldn't even cover the cost of its own administration. Besides, I wouldn't want to be singled out for paying a tax to build paths that I don't use.
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Old 07-20-09, 09:30 AM   #5
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What they SHOULD do is to tax bicyclists by the mile - and put mileage reporting on the honor system.

Bicyclists LOVE to lie about how many miles they ride. It would be worth it to pay a little extra just so you could whine about having to pay more bicycling tax than whoever you're talking to.
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Old 07-20-09, 09:48 AM   #6
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This question comes up so often that I have the Toronto Bicycle Licensing Study bookmarked.
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Old 07-20-09, 12:22 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Better use of the existing income stream before they are allowed to implement any new form of taxes.
Thank gawd under Barry 95% of us are going to see our taxes go down. Hurray for the rich people!!!
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Old 07-20-09, 12:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
What they SHOULD do is to tax bicyclists by the mile - and put mileage reporting on the honor system.

Bicyclists LOVE to lie about how many miles they ride. It would be worth it to pay a little extra just so you could whine about having to pay more bicycling tax than whoever you're talking to.
They could lie about THAT, too. Actually PAYING the tax wouldn't be a requirement.
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Old 07-20-09, 04:01 PM   #9
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I liked the part where he said "IF I was a bicyclist" he'd pay a tax. To me it is amazing that someone who does not participate in an activity somehow believes he understands what the actual participants would do or think. I say to them, unless you are one of US do not try to tell US what we want.
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Old 07-21-09, 01:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Rob P. View Post
I liked the part where he said "IF I was a bicyclist" he'd pay a tax. To me it is amazing that someone who does not participate in an activity somehow believes he understands what the actual participants would do or think.
Yeah, it's always easier to support a tax you don't have to pay.

Seriously, this is an old chestnut, and one that's been looked at and rejected so many times that it's a joke. The reason cyclists don't pay "registration fees" or whatever other tax people would like to charge is because it's just not economically viable. Several American states and at least three Australian states have seriously looked into this, and have ALWAYS come to the same conclusion, that the revenue generated from such a tax would be swamped by the administrative costs, and that the whole thing would run at a loss. If cycling ever became as popular as driving is today, it might be possible, but until then, the whole idea is nothing more than a way from a few people to fill newspaper space on a slow news day, or for politicians to try to gain some short term political mileage.
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Old 07-21-09, 05:00 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by annc View Post
This question comes up so often that I have the Toronto Bicycle Licensing Study bookmarked.
+1. A thorough, detailed and rational rebuttal of the pro-registration/tax/licencing argument.

Heigh Ho, reinvention of wheel time
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Old 07-21-09, 07:26 PM   #12
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Tax on Bikes? Boo!

Tax on Bikes? Boo!
July 20th, 2009 by Matt · 9 Comments

Some things just make absolutely no sense to me. Like when I see dudes
peeing at urinals looking down at their manhood. What? Did you forget
what it looks like? Have you not performed the same action thousands
of times in your life? What need is there to look down that way? Bowls
I can understand, there’s a degree of difficulty involved, but a
urinal? Oh wait, that’s a topic for a different blog . . . back to
bike stuff.

Oh sure, many will disagree with me on this other issue, but a
possible move in Vancouver, Washington to place a tax on bicycles just
seems plain stupid. Sure I am saying this because I ride my bike
everyday (and I happen to look like a long haired hippie at present),
but there are several other reasons. And unbelievably, I started to
write about this only later to find out that Andrew had beat me to it.
But I’m not going to let that stop my keyboard mojo.

My encounter with this story came from Portland, Oregon based KGW.com
that quotes Clark County Commissioner Steve Stuart. I don’t think
Clark County is big enough or cool enough to have it’s own news
outlets so we have to rely upon Portland to cover this terrible idea.
All Portlanders know the following, but for the benefit of those not
in the know, comparing Vancouver’s Clark County to Portland’s
Multnomah County is like trying to compare a Huffy to a Surly. The
likely owner of a dust covered Huffy, Mr. Stuart asks:

“We license our dogs. You license your car. Why wouldn’t you license
your bikes?”

Oh let me count the ways you Huffy Politician!

ScreenShot208 copy

First of all, the negative impact cars have on both the environment
and roadways cannot be argued against by any person who claims to be
sane. You tax cars primarily because they tear up the roads. Only in
recent years has the whole issue of the environment taken center stage
but taxing people on how much they pollute sounds like a grand idea to
me. When monkeys start to fly out of my ass and thousands upon
thousands of people are commuting by bicycle causing mile long traffic
jams on our thoroughfares then and only then might there be noticeable
road wear and tear. Bicycles do not have the impact on roads that cars
do and other than body odor are zero emission vehicles. Thus a tax
break is in order for bikes, not tax creation.

Next, safety. Over 40,000 people are killed each year in motor vehicle
related accidents each year in the U.S. Thousands of others suffer
injuries that will cripple them in some capacity for the rest of their
lives. Quite simply, motor vehicles are weapons. Who reports to the
scenes of these accidents? Public servants pulling a paycheck from our
taxes. More bikes, less cops! =) Okay, so that’s a stretch, but less
time patrolling our roads and more time tending to other matters would
be a better use of our tax dollars. I’d rather have Johnny Law focus
more on shutting down crank labs and throwing child molesters behind
bars than pointing a speed gun at freeways.

As far as dogs, yes of course they need licensing. Dogs can get lost
and their silly, doting, goofy talking owners (”Oh you’re such a good
boy aren’t you? Yes you are!!!!) will go to great lengths to get their
public nuisance back. Sure you can lose your bike or have it stolen,
but bikes don’t defecate, require feeding, bark incessantly, and
likely will not chew up your clothing if you know how to ride one. I’m
sure dog theft statistics are less than bike theft statistics for just
these very reasons. If my bike gets stolen I don’t believe that
registering it is going to help me get it back.

Third, and related to the second point, is insurance. Sure it’s a bit
of a reach because public dollars (at least at present) do not play
much of a role in insurance costs, but imagine the benefits of putting
people on bikes. Pushing a gas pedal in a car ain’t much of a workout.
Put someone on a bike and they are going to get a workout. A tax break
on bicycles should be a priority to help drive insurance costs down.
As a result you are likely to have healthier people that work more,
thus earning more money, thus paying more taxes. Genius!

Fourth, I am assuming registering bikes would require a trip to the
DMV. Who out there, other than someone who works at the DMV or who has
a relative that does, likes DMV employees? Providing tax breaks for
bicycles might encourage fewer people to drive which would decrease
car ownership which would directly lead to a cut in the need for DMV
employees. Badda bing!

The fifth and fourth points can be tied to the graph below supplied by
the War Resisters League that relates to income tax expenditures
(please conveniently ignore the fact that this is a Federal tax graph
and not a state tax graph):

pieFY09

If it is not already abundantly clear, let me explain it to you. You
probably already made the Human Resource connection. By reducing the
need for DMV employees we can cut that part down. And if you were
gifted enough to realize that you would realize that we could take a
huge cut out of the budget with a smaller military. If we did not have
to fight oil wars we would not need such a big military. The auto
industry is dependent on oil and if we get people riding bikes we
won’t be as likely to invade countries for their petroleum.

I could go on, but admittedly the beer buzz I had when I first ran
into that story on KGW.com is wearing off and I have no more cold beer
in the fridge to keep the buzz going. Thus I leave it to you readers
to provide additional support in comments . . . only after cracking
open a cold beer of course.

http://bikehacks.com/tax-on-bikes-boo/
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Old 07-21-09, 07:54 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ablang
“We license our dogs. You license
your car. Why wouldn’t you license your bikes?”
Wow. Just wow. That's the attitude I hate, and that's the attitude that has allowed our government to grow to the size it is now. What he's saying there is, "So they trample on one right, and then another, and another. Aw, what the hell, why not throw in a third?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
The reason cyclists don't pay "registration fees" or whatever other tax people would like to charge is because it's just not economically viable
The argument always seems to come down to whether it's viable or not. I don't see it as a matter of viability. Even if it were somehow massively profitable, it's still theft. It's wrong, no matter how you slice it, to force someone to pay for a service if they never asked for it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ablang
As the recession increasingly affects local governments, new sources
of revenue are going to be sought after. Is taxing cyclists or
imposing a fee to ride really the best option?
Not only is it not the best option, it shouldn't even be an option in the first place. The government does not need to seek "new sources of revenue". They're taking and spending more than they ever have before. It's like reaching into someone's pocket and taking a $100 bill, then buying something that costs $200. Then they come back and say "Sorry, you didn't give me enough. I need a new source of revenue in these tough times. Hand over the rest of the money".
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Old 07-21-09, 09:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
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The argument always seems to come down to whether it's viable or not. I don't see it as a matter of viability. Even if it were somehow massively profitable, it's still theft. It's wrong, no matter how you slice it, to force someone to pay for a service if they never asked for it.
To be honest I agree with you, but governments don't weigh up "right" or "wrong" when evaluating a tax. They weigh up revenue vs votes, and they always will as long as people persist with this idea that democracy is some kind of virtue.
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Old 07-21-09, 09:27 PM   #15
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I already pay taxes for the 12 foot wide bike path that runs in front of my house. Plus, licenses are for things that are dangerous and destructive (cars), not bikes.

What is next, licensing walkers?
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Old 07-21-09, 09:46 PM   #16
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maddy, DON'T TELL THEM THAT! They'll place a V.A.T. on shoes @ Footlocker, calling it a "pavement usage tax", or something. Or maybe, like FL, everything will be a user fee.
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Old 07-24-09, 03:14 PM   #17
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Bicycle licensing is already widespread, and widely ignored. I remember my parents registering mine when I was a kid, and I've seen the ancient license stickers around here.
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Old 07-24-09, 05:37 PM   #18
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Bicycle licensing is already widespread, and widely ignored. I remember my parents registering mine when I was a kid, and I've seen the ancient license stickers around here.
I have a few of those too, but they were for registration purposes, not a futile attempt to produce revenue.

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Old 07-24-09, 09:17 PM   #19
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Taxes don't work unless you raise more in tax than administration costs.
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