I just read an article in my local newspaper about Oregon test-driving a charge-per-mile tax. So what is this tax they are “test-driving”? Basically, they will be charging everyone 1.5 cents per mile for every mile they drive, regardless of where they drive and how much. That of course, if the way it is going to be instituted at the beginning anyway. The idea is to do away with the Oregon gas taxes being paid at the pump and to let this charge-per-mile tax replace the other Oregon gas taxes. The money of course, will be used for new roads and to repair existing roads as needed.
The plan, called Orego, is that drivers will install a sort of “GPS” device in their cars that log how many ,miles they drive. This is a volunteer program at the moment to see how it all works. The tax is only for miles driven on Oregon public roads, so miles driven on private roads in Oregon or driven outside of the state of Oregon will not be taxed. And since the plan is volunteer right now, the volunteer drivers will still be paying the normal Oregon state gas taxes when they fill up, and so will be credited back on these taxes.
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Before we go any further in discussing the pros and cons of this plan, let me ask you this… When was the last time you saw a tax you were currently paying repealed? Do you seriously think they will stop charging gasoline taxes at the pump??
I know I am writing about something that is happening in Oregon, and you probably don’t care because you are in California. But, did you know that last year California created a committee to study “alternatives to the gas tax”? And design a pilot program?
And, once a tax is passed allowing the state to charge you per mile driven, even though the pilot program you approve charges a flat rate regardless of where you drive, or when, do you seriously think it will stay that way forever? Or course not. Because, once this basic plan is approved, the plan can be easily modified at any
time without your further approval; for example to increase the tax if you drive during rush hours, on major freeways, or if you drive over so many miles over month, etc. Did you hear what I said.. WITHOUT YOUR APPROVAL!
Yes, it’s a slippery slope we are on here. Taxes and more taxes. Just like the toll roads where you pay a premium, not only to use them, but you pay even more to use them during rush hour when traffic is at the heaviest. I have heard some refer to these toll roads as “Lexus Lanes”. Only the rich can afford to drive in them, while the rest of us poor slobs continue to slog along in horrid traffic because we cannot afford to live close to where we work. And they are building more of them!
Remember back when we all had free TV? And we laughed at paying for TV? Do you currently know of anyone who doesn’t have a cable or digital TV provider now? And for me, my cable TV bill is really high, higher than any other utility or phone bill I pay. Soon, I will no longer be able to drive around town without paying for every mile either.
And we haven’t even looked at the “big brother” aspects of this tracking GPS in your car. Yes, I know with my phone GPS they probably already know everywhere I am and where I go. But this now makes it official that they have a right to track where I drive and when. They swear they won’t use the information for anything else. Really?
So watch out - this is coming. And if you are one of those who has purchased a hybrid or electric car, and so has reduced the amount of money you spend on gas, this plan is wonderful for you. You did your part for the environment, but they need a way to still tax you, and here it is!
I know it sounds like I am ranting, and I have not presented an alternative solution. One idea would be to allow working people who can to telecommute more. Don’t worry though, the internet tax is next.