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GPS Based Tax

Hot Hardware (a most excellent computer/techie site, by the way) is reporting an interesting proposition by the Governor of Oregon. Apparently Oregon is having a bit of financial difficulty, what with all the people trying to save on gas and the associated decline in gas tax revenues. Governor Kulongoski’s proposal is fairly simple – let’s tax based upon how many miles driven rather than how many gallons of gas purchased. It’s not a new idea per se, but it’s a new application of technology to help with the idea. The notion is to fit cars with GPS units which record the number of miles traveled since the last fill-up. When you go to the gas station, a reader will automatically read the number of miles, calculate the tax, and add the appropriate amount to your bill. This won’t replace the gas tax – at least not at first – because it will take some time to fit all the cars in Oregon with the necessary equipment. As the article points out, the idea is just something the Governor is suggesting. It’s up to the legislature to make it happen.

It’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure tax payers are going to get on board. You also have to wonder about the people traveling from other states and are unlikely to have the GPS system installed. It will get people to focus on driving less distance (as opposed to consuming less gas), which would seem to be counter to environmental concerns. All in all, it is a pretty radical experiment. We’ll have to keep watch to see if its ultimately implemented.

3 thoughts on “GPS Based Tax

  1. And here we go again!We can’t take another year like this past.The high cost of gas seriously damaged our economy.I just read a profound book called The Manhattan Project of 2009 by Jeff Wilson. Among the things I learned that fascinated me is that it would cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an electric car. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and SUV’s instead had plug-in electric drive trains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota. Why don’t we use some of the billions in bail out money to bail us out of our dependence on foreign oil? I say drill our own oil and get started on getting renewable sources of energy set up. Oil is finite, it will run out one day in the not too distant future. We should never allow other countries to have that much power over our economy.

  2. The only difference between a gas tax and a mileage tax is that gas taxes disincentivize low fuel efficiency vehicles like SUVs and Hummers.

    Say that you own an Insight (64 mpg) and I own a Hummer (9 mpg), and we each drive 1000 miles.

    With Oregon’s current gas tax (43.4¢/gal), you would pay $6.78 in taxes, and I would pay $48.22. Shifting to a mileage-based tax would very roughly charge you an additional $20 in taxes, while shaving that same amount off of what I have to pay.

    But I’m using 7 times the gas, and polluting about 7 times as much — why should I get a break at your expense? It’s crazy.

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