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New Tax Scheme Would Charge Citizens Per Mile Driven - Rate Could Be Based on Car's Fuel Efficiency

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The rapacious Democrats in California are at it again, dreaming up a new tax, this time one that would see car owners charged for every mile they drive.

The scheme to grab even more money from the state’s beleaguered citizenry is not just being “debated,” either. There is already a pilot program in motion, called the 2024 Road Charge Collection Pilot, where car owners install a device into their vehicle that tracks their driving and tallies up a tax on them.

The new way of collecting road taxes will reportedly replace the state’s exorbitant gas taxes. At 51 cents per gallon, California has the second highest gas taxes in the nation, according to the financial website Motley Fool. Only Pennsylvania’s, with a 56-cent-per-gallon tax, is higher.

One reason for considering the new tax scheme is actually a logical one. As more people begin using hybrids or electric vehicles, states will see their haul from gasoline taxes go down. And as most states use their gas taxes for road maintenance and upkeep, that poses a problem. Where, they wonder, will the taxes needed to maintain roads come from if no one is buying gasoline anymore?

Granted, this dilemma is still a bit far off in the future. The latest numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that the total number of hybrids and electric vehicles made up 16 percent of light-duty vehicle sales in 2023.

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Still, 16 percent is not a small number. And all those drivers are paying less, or even no gasoline taxes.

So, at least on this level, you can’t blame states for looking for new ways to tax drivers to maintain the roads. The Vehicle Miles Traveled tax is the hot new money grab.

However, a per-mile tax seems to be a most intrusive and unfair way to tax cars. And “intrusive” really is the word to use for the invasion of privacy these schemes represent.

California’s pilot program has several versions. In its simplest one, drivers simply upload a photo of their odometer to start the program and then another photo as the taxing period ends. Then the state calculates the tax based on the mileage seen in the photo.

Would you ever move to California?

However, that raises a question: What happens to the miles a driver has amassed while driving out of state? And why should that driver be charged a tax in California for driving in some other state? This is where the next version of the collection system gets intrusive.

The full-blown system has drivers installing a device that connects to the car’s computer system that then sends GPS and the car’s other data to the state. And that means the state device is tracking every move drivers make. California even has a third system that links to the vehicle telematics transmitted from a car to the manufacturer, meaning the state is privy to every ounce of data in a car’s computer.

The advantage to that, the state says, according to LAist, is that the government can tell when you are driving out of state and can exclude those miles from the taxing scheme.

Drivers will have to decide whether they want the government to have full access to all their data and to be able to track them everywhere they go. But, one can easily assume that eventually there will be no choice and all cars will simply be fitted with the intrusive reporting systems, whether owners want them or not.

There are a lot of problems with a per-mile taxing scheme, otherwise, as well. Not only are you giving up your freedom to be free of government tracking as you travel, but it is also an unfair tax in many ways, the Texas Public Policy Foundation noted.

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For one, it penalizes citizens who live outside big city centers, because they have farther distances to drive to work, church, grocery stores and leisure activities. It is also a burden on lower-income families in those same rural areas.

Secondly, the VMT taxing schemes are more expensive to operate, because the tracking systems are usually operated by third-party companies, causing states to pay huge processing and maintenance fees to continue collecting the tax. This also leaves drivers open to being defrauded by shady tax-collecting companies that are contracting with the state.

Texas Policy added that VMT taxes “also discourage driving, which will inevitably hurt employment and upward mobility. Both [gas and VMT] taxes increase the price of consumer goods and have a negative impact on economic growth.”

Oregon, Virginia and Utah are also floating pilot per-mile vehicle taxing schemes, along with California.

There are a lot of reasons that VMT schemes are a terrible, un-American idea that quashes freedom of movement, overburdens lower and middle-income Americans, and are rife for abuse. But it isn’t surprising that the Democrat-controlled state of California is considering them.


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Warner Todd Huston has been writing editorials and news since 2001 but started his writing career penning articles about U.S. history back in the early 1990s. Huston has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN and several local Chicago news programs to discuss the issues of the day. Additionally, he is a regular guest on radio programs from coast to coast. Huston has also been a Breitbart News contributor since 2009. Warner works out of the Chicago area, a place he calls a "target-rich environment" for political news. Follow him on Truth Social at @WarnerToddHuston.
Warner Todd Huston has been writing editorials and news since 2001 but started his writing career penning articles about U.S. history back in the early 1990s. Huston has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business Network, CNN and several local Chicago news programs to discuss the issues of the day. Additionally, he is a regular guest on radio programs from coast to coast. Huston has also been a Breitbart News contributor since 2009. Warner works out of the Chicago area, a place he calls a "target-rich environment" for political news.




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