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.

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