States move toward user based road tax

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BlackDiamond

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This article discusses the trend in many states to try to resolve the problem of how to pay for road construction and maintenance now that higher efficiency cars and increased use of electric vehicles (EVs) is causing a drop in gas tax revenue.

In case this article is paywalled for you, here are some excerpts:

"With each gallon of gas pumped in the United States since 1932, drivers have been paying taxes. The revenue is used for road repairs and public transportation such as train and bus systems. Currently, the Fed takes 18.4 cents per gallon for gas or 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel. State gas taxes range from a national high of 61 cents for gas in Pennsylvania, to a low of 8.95 cents in Alaska."

"State and federal governments are looking for a new way to fund transportation. Through numerous studies by transportation organizations, they have landed on mileage-based user fees (MBUF); vehicle miles traveled fees (VMT); road user charges (RUCs), or highway use fees (HUF). The acronyms all mean the same thing: Drivers pay a tax for each mile traveled."

Oregon has a program OreGo using devices to track a driver's mileage that drivers receive a registration discount in return for signing up for the program. They pay 1.9 cents per mile driven that goes to the state highway fund. However there are concerns about privacy issues with this tracking. One possibility is to have a third party handle the tracking, only reporting the mileage driven to the government.

Apparently the recent IIJA had a one time transfer of $118 Billion to the Highway Trust Fund to counteract the shortfall in highway funding. This was a one time payment so obviously would not be a long term solution as to how to pay for highway maintenance.
 
With the decline in gasoline use it was inevitable...and it won't stop until Big Brother has a neverending, Internet-searchable (by the 'right people') log of every mile you drive and every address which you stop at.

Sigh. Perhaps I should go to Amish country and buy a horse and buggy?
 
With the decline in gasoline use it was inevitable...and it won't stop until Big Brother has a neverending, Internet-searchable (by the 'right people') log of every mile you drive and every address which you stop at.

Sigh. Perhaps I should go to Amish country and buy a horse and buggy?
Or take the train. ;) :D
 
I mean, the HTF shortfall has been building since the 1990s (when gas tax increases stopped, so revenues didn't keep pace with inflation).

One thing that I've seen suggested is just charging a flat per-car fee (or per-owner fee), but offering the miles-traveled option as an alternative (with a guarantee that you won't pay more than you would if you just paid the flat fee). So you might base it around, say, 15k miles driven per year - but if you agree to tracking and only drive 10k miles per year, you'd only pay that share of the fee.

[Virginia's program is a mess insofar as they're "surcharging" newer/more efficient cars, which...well, it certainly creates some probably not-intended incentives.]
 
With the decline in gasoline use it was inevitable...and it won't stop until Big Brother has a neverending, Internet-searchable (by the 'right people') log of every mile you drive and every address which you stop at.
If the fed did this it would be fairly easy for them just to require odometer millage to be reported on every registered car. Thats a much cheaper solution and just do the usual lying to the feds is a crime. I also wouldn't be surprised if some states went this route with you having to prove you left the state a bunch if you didn't want to get taxed on the miles
 
I participated in a California study about this several years ago. We were given a choice of sending photos of our odometer at intervals, reporting the mileage without photos, or plugging a gps unit under the dash (my choice). All of us were given dummy accounts to pay our mileage based gas tax. The reason I chose the gps device was I wanted to see how I really felt about something so intrusive. I think it was a 6 month study, whatever it was, it was short enough I was willing to put up with it. The gps data was managed by an Oregon company whose usual business is fleet management. I was able to view a dashboard that included a map of where I'd been each day, how many times I braked or accelerated "hard," my maximum and average speed, and some other things. It did not "bill" me for out-of-state miles except when I went through a tunnel or canyon where the gps couldn't see me (a defect I reported). I found myself carefully following speed limits, making full stops at stop signs, and other probably safer driving. In other words, I found it intrusive.

The governor signed a bill last fall for a new study that will use real bills and real money instead of dummy accounts, and participants will get a refund on gas taxes they "overpay" at the gas station. Since my car gets lower than average mileage especially when towing, I might sign up again. Thinking about how much privacy I'd give up for a few bucks (absolutely not!) is completely different than actually doing it (I might be more of a cheapskate than I admit even to myself).

Of course, if (when?) mileage gas tax is implemented, the rate will undoubtedly be higher than the study rate. I wouldn't be surprised to eventually see a national rollout similar to what truckers have to do, which is to report and pay taxes in each individual state.
 
This article discusses the trend in many states to try to resolve the problem of how to pay for road construction and maintenance now that higher efficiency cars and increased use of electric vehicles (EVs) is causing a drop in gas tax revenue.
The sedans and hatchbacks that represent most of the electric vehicle market have very little impact on paved road surfaces. The vast majority of wear and tear is caused by large commercial and construction vehicles, nearly all of which run on diesel. If states really wanted to reduce and repair wear they'd double the on-road diesel tax and quadruple overweight permit fees, but I guess it's easier to go after EVs.
 
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[Virginia's program is a mess insofar as they're "surcharging" newer/more efficient cars, which...well, it certainly creates some probably not-intended incentives.]

Generally I think taxing consumptive activities like buying expensive new cars and encouraging maintenance of existing cars is a good thing (and I live in a state where registration is a fraction of your car's depreciated value), provided it's not targeted at one particular market segment.

As for whether the side incentives were 'not intended' or not... can tell you my state is seriously considering socking electric vehicles with an extra tax of $130 to $1100(!) per year, "to make up for lost gas tax revenue". Make no mistake, it's not an accident, it's a deliberate attempt by our Republican legislative trifecta to slap the electric car industry so hard that nobody opens dealerships here, charging stations don't have to be built, and the evil commies who want to drive the things don't move into the state. We have fewer than 1,000 electric cars registered in the state and they are trying really hard to make sure it stays that way.

Simply having an energy tax, that applies proportionally to you whether you buy electricity or buy gas or buy diesel, would be too obvious.
 
Generally I think taxing consumptive activities like buying expensive new cars and encouraging maintenance of existing cars is a good thing (and I live in a state where registration is a fraction of your car's depreciated value), provided it's not targeted at one particular market segment.

As for whether the side incentives were 'not intended' or not... can tell you my state is seriously considering socking electric vehicles with an extra tax of $130 to $1100(!) per year, "to make up for lost gas tax revenue". Make no mistake, it's not an accident, it's a deliberate attempt by our Republican legislative trifecta to slap the electric car industry so hard that nobody opens dealerships here, charging stations don't have to be built, and the evil commies who want to drive the things don't move into the state. We have fewer than 1,000 electric cars registered in the state and they are trying really hard to make sure it stays that way.

Simply having an energy tax, that applies proportionally to you whether you buy electricity or buy gas or buy diesel, would be too obvious.
Except that, at least in Virginia, this wasn't passed by a Republican government. It was passed in 2020 (when Democrats had the trifecta).
 
If I were King:

1. I'd keep the tax on motor fuels, mostly to discourage their use and send the proceeds to the General Fund.

2. I'd support the highway trust fund by mileage user charges based on simple odometer readings, with rates based on the weight/performance characteristics of the vehicle. I'd reserve a fraction of the revenues for funding transit and intercity rail.

3. I'd make most freeways, especially in urban regions, toll roads.

I would expect that most of this is not politically viable, but then, I don't expect to get elected King any time soon.
 
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If the fed did this it would be fairly easy for them just to require odometer millage to be reported on every registered car. Thats a much cheaper solution and just do the usual lying to the feds is a crime. I also wouldn't be surprised if some states went this route with you having to prove you left the state a bunch if you didn't want to get taxed on the miles
That would actually be my preferred solution, perhaps with inspection stations at the state line where you could register your mileage leaving and re-entering if you were going to be traveling extensively. But I trust government to never implement a simple solution when a complicated and intrusive one is theoretically feasible....
 
That would actually be my preferred solution, perhaps with inspection stations at the state line where you could register your mileage leaving and re-entering if you were going to be traveling extensively. But I trust government to never implement a simple solution when a complicated and intrusive one is theoretically feasible....
Good luck doing that at or near the Ohio/Ky border at the Brent Spence Bridge in Cincinnati!
 
My Auto Insurance Company ( State Farm) offered me the chance to use a GPS/App Combo to track my Mileage Driven/Speed etc. in order to qualify for a Discount based on my actual Driving in my New Gasoline powered Vehicle.

Since Travis County( Austin) has the Highest Auto Insurance Rates in Texas, I decided to give it a try.

Texas has one of the lowest Gasoline Taxes in the Nation, and the Lege isn't going to Vote to increase this Tax since it's Gospel that 25 cents a Gallon is as High as it needs to be.( but they're not opposed to Toll Roads, increased License and Inspection Fees, and Sales Tax Increases)

Well see how it works out over the next year.
 
The problem of fuel taxes falls into 2 conflicting categories.
1. The need for more lanes due to more autos.
2. Heavy trucks do all the damage to roads not autos. Stress on pavements is by the 4th power of tires on pavement. 2000 pounds cars have 500 pounds on each tire. 18 wheelers 80k weight 4444 poumds on each tire. So, 625 vs 3.7 million of some defined force factor.
 
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