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  1. #1
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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?
    -- Ron
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  2. #2
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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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.

    Aaron
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  3. #3
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    Didn't we just celebrate a holiday that was a result of taxation?

  4. #4
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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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.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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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.

  6. #6
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    This question comes up so often that I have the Toronto Bicycle Licensing Study bookmarked.

  7. #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!!!

  8. #8
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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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.

  9. #9
    Fred at large
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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.
    I am Fred, hear me slurp my Grande Mocha.

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  10. #10
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote 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.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  11. #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

  12. #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 *** 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/
    -- Ron
    1. 2008 Giant FCR3 [hybrid; main bike]
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  13. #13
    Tell a thousand lies... BurnMyEyes's Avatar
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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".

  14. #14
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BurnMyEyes View Post
    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.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  15. #15
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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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?
    Not too much to say here

  16. #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.

  17. #17
    kipuka explorer bkrownd's Avatar
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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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  18. #18
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkrownd View Post
    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.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  19. #19
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    Taxes don't work unless you raise more in tax than administration costs.
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