Vehicle Miles Tax

Here’s a great idea with typically poor execution by the politicians. A vehicle miles tax.

The whole approach to this is wrong though. The White House issues a draft reauthorization bill that includes this idea but then promptly disowns the idea publicly. It’s like they are trying to gauge opposition rather than solve a problem.

First of all, if you are going to restructure the funding of road projects, you need to go all the way. Kill the gas tax. It’s not doing the job and, as it is, if we want to reduce gas consumption then gas tax revenue will be shrinking anyway. Remove the gas tax and replace it with a vehicle miles tax.

Secondly, why do we need to accompany this with a proposal for a spooky, big-brother-esque, tracking device in every car? Cars track their own mileage via the odometer. It’s already a Federal offense to tamper with odometers (see Motor Vehicle Cost Information Act, 49 U.S.C. Section 32704). Just require an odometer reading every year with vehicle registration. The States already have the resources in place to collect this information.

You are NEVER going to get people to accept an additional tax to pay for their roads. However, a substitute tax that presents a better funding structure and produces a tangible result (ie. better roads) will probably pan out. The number of miles driven, and thus the amount of demand placed on the infrastructure, will be proportionate to the funds collected.

The best solutions are often the simplest. What am I missing?