• Mar 27, 2006

The Beaver State is investigating a new method of assessing taxes used to bankroll state highways. Instead of collecting money via gasoline taxes, Oregon is testing a GPS-based system which levels taxes based upon miles driven. By switching to such a system, the state would not lose revenue with every resident that purchases a more fuel efficient vehicle.

The 'black box' system keeps tabs on how many miles are racked up both in and out of Oregon's borders, as well as during rush hour, and levies taxes on the totals accrued. Predictably, the creation of a database that monitors the travel patterns of drivers raises some troubling privacy concerns, even for those who don't regularly harbor 'Big Brother' conspiracy theories.

As things stand, Oregon derives some 80-percent of its highway funding from its 24-cent-per-gallon tax, thus the move towards more fuel-efficient vehicles stands to negatively impact the state's coffers by millions of dollars.

What do you think, is this a viable alternative to standard gas-based taxation, or are the potential privacy issues too great to overlook?

[Source: UPI]

(Top tip, Chicken!)



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  • 37 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bad idea from any perspective. As mentioned before why not just raise the fuel tax? We're already programmed to pay it, and it's almost invisible. Another suggestion might be to tax a vehicle yearly on engine displacement. This is a common European tax, and is one of the reasons why so many small displacement engines are popular.
      Dick Gilkison
      • 8 Years Ago
      our bone headed lustrus guvnur came up with this idea to offset the cars that use less gas and paying less gas tax. Dick
      Micah
      • 8 Years Ago
      I agree with Corey. And who is to say that they won't start enforcing speed limits with auto-tickets?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Okay, I am one of those who don't usually fear "big Brother" but this really bothers me. Do an annual odometer reading (yea, I know miles outside the state and all) or something, but don't track my every movement with a GPS system - that is scary!
      DKK
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm from Oregon, and have been reading about this for quite a while. Apart from the paranioa/privacy issues about the GPS, here is the basic rationale: Oregon's Dept. of Transportation's job is to maintain the roads, not provide social engineering/incentives for fuel consumption efficiencies. Oregon already taxes truckers by the weight-mile, and not through taxes on diesel fuel (seperate pumps). Heavier trucks cause more wear. ODOT is concerned about the intrinsic disparity about what people pay as a tax for using the roads; why should a Hummer pay 5 times per mile than a Prius? (by the way, at the relative low weights of these vehicles compared to semis, there is no measurable/predictable difference in road wear). ODOT thinks the fair thing is for passenger vehicles to pay essentially a flat tax for road usage. They see a future with electrics, fuel cells, etc, and no good way to tax them. By the way, in Europe (Germany), freeway tolls using transponders are now common for trucks, and is considered inevitable for cars soon. Pay for the privelage of using the freeway, cause they're getting more and more expensive to build and maintain.

      Hope this helps. I don't necessarily like it, but..
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow. 100% against this idea, for the simple reason that the current system allows people to mitigate how bad their taxes are. In almost all taxing systems, this is true. Don't like high property taxes? Buy a smaller house, or move to an area that doesn't have as high a tax. Don't like sales tax? Buy cheaper items, or fewer of them. Don't like your income tax? Donate $$ to a charity, or put away the max into your 401k/trad. IRA. Don't like the gas tax? Buy a smaller, more efficient vehicle.

      the *real* reason that gas tax revenues are going down, is because it's not a % of the sale price, it's a fixed amount. If gas is $1/gallon, the gov. gets $.24/gallon. If gas is $3/gallon, the gov. gets $.24. And as any economist will tell you, when a price goes up, sales go down. And since it'd be VERY unpopular to make gas tax a percentage (can you imagine that everytime gas shot up by 10-20 cents, it'd go up even higher due to the tax going up as well?), politicians are stuck.

      oh well, spring's here and that means commuting to work by bike. 23 miles, each way, and give the finger to the gov the entire time.

      • 8 Years Ago
      For those who already live in Oregon, if you don't like it, don't continue to re-elect the morons you've elected.

      For those who like this idea a whole lot, move to Singapore, where "big brother" is alive and well and monitors your driving habits electronically and bills you each month for user fees based upon where you've driven (drive into the city center during the business day and you incur a huge fee) as well as stop lights you might have run and/or speed limits you might have exceeded.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Huh? Many proposals have good and bad points, but this is just plain dumb in too many ways to mention.

      As mentioned above, this destroys incentive for conservation. If same collection is to be maintained, then SUV drivers get a break, subcompact drivers pay more. How eff-ed up is that?!

      Also it will be costly to administer and enforce. You have to hire buncha new state workers, buy millions of gps boxes, then use overstretched police and taxpayer resources to enforce. There are many ways of cheating 1. leave the box at home 2. disable box 3. use out of state car.

      And what about out-of-state travelers? They would get a free ride or have to install a box upon entering the state. ?!!


      I question the whole reason for going to such a tax. First, average car MPG is not moving up significantly. Secondly, why not raise the tax per gallon to compensate?

      Stupid.
      • 8 Years Ago
      On top of making up for a dwindling revenue stream, a tax/mile system has other benefits. I actually disagree with the commenter who said the following:

      "ODOT is concerned about the intrinsic disparity about what people pay as a tax for using the roads"

      Besides a stable revenue stream that does not depend upon fuel consumption for income, the system will allow for incentives not to cause traffic. Rather than a flat tax/mile, where, even which direction, and when one is traveling would be factored in to one's fee/mile. People heading home to Vancouver, WA between 4 and 6 PM would be taxed at a much higher rate than people driving to Milton-Freewater on highway 11 at midday. This would encourage fewer trips at rush hour and could more evenly distribute traffic over time, which would decrease the need for huge infrastructural costs etc.

      That being said I share big brotherish concerns about this innovative system.

      I do not think that such a tax would need to be, or should be, to the exclusion of a consumption tax on gasoline.
      • 8 Years Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't think Oregon's proposal goes far enough. This will only provide information to the government about where we go, how long we stay there, how fast we travel, if seatbelts are in use, etc. States should require the installation of video cameras in our vehicles to be monitored in an underground complex by approved government bureaucrats. They can ensure drivers have both hands on the wheel, check blindspots when changing lanes, aren't picking our nose, or wearing t-shorts will language that might offend someone. Also, I believe the car's ignition cannot be engaged until the driver affirms, through installed touch screen pad, commitment to diversity, our apology for releasing hydro carbons into the atmosphere, ATM PIN to transfer mileage tax daily, and travel plans for the day.

      Any violation will cause doors to lock while the car is remotely driven to the nearest Driver Re-education Center.

      The government must know everything!
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is clearly becoming big brother in a much more disturbing way. From red light cameras to photo radar to rental companies sending fines to consumers for speeding since they are being tracked via satellite. This needs to be fought. Government is becoming more and more involved in our personal lives.........
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