By Stephen Markley on March 8, 2009
As more fuel-efficient vehicles hit the roads in the coming years, the U.S. government will face a dwindling amount of money in the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which funds the upkeep of the nation’s highways and bridges.
The money comes from the federal gas tax, which in the economic downturn has proven to be an incredibly poor choice of funding for the much needed maintenance of our national infrastructure. Looking forward, Congress and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood are kicking around the idea of a mileage tax to replace the gas tax. Basically, instead of paying a tax at the pump, you’d pay a tax on the number of miles you drive per year.
The mileage-tax idea raises a whole slew of concerns. For instance, would a Big Brother-style GPS system track everyone’s movements? Or would drivers have to go on the honor system as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) suggested? Would different vehicles be taxed at different rates, or would 12,000 miles in a fuel-efficient Ford Fusion Hybrid cost you the same amount of money as it would in a Hummer H2?
These questions make it surprising that the mileage tax has gained so much momentum in Washington, D.C. But with the volatility of gas prices and a gradual move away from traditional gas-powered vehicles, something has to be done to secure adequate funding for the nation’s infrastructure on a long-term basis.
Let us know what you think: Would you prefer to be taxed for the number of miles you drive each year or stick with the current system and pay a bit more at the pump?
Plan to Tax Mileage Vs. Gas Gaining Speed (Detroit Free Press)