TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: CA DMV Chief Backs Tax by Mile

Re: CA DMV Chief Backs Tax by Mile

Linc Madison (
Wed, 01 Dec 2004 16:47:59 -0800

In article <>, Justin Time
<> wrote:

> Duhh! Somebody needs to teach this reporter about taxes and how they
> are levied and collected.

No, actually, the reporter gives a clear and accurate picture of both
the current system and the proposed change.

> "Charging people for the miles they drive also worries some owners of
> hybrid cars, because it could wipe out any gas-tax savings they now
> enjoy [because they] would pay the same fuel tax as a Hummer owner."

> If the tax is on the gasoline the vehicle consumes, isn't the "fuel
> efficient" Prius paying the same 18 cents per gallon the "gas
> guzzler" Hummer pays or am I missing something here?

You're missing something here. Currently, the Prius owner pays less
fuel tax than the Hummer owner per mile driven, because the Prius is
more fuel-efficient. Under the proposed plan, the fuel tax would still
be a fuel tax -- it would be collected at the pump when you buy
gasoline -- but it would be based on miles driven, not gallons of fuel

Also, the proposed tax scheme is not simply a consumption tax on the
concrete and asphalt used, because the Hummer also consumes more of
those per mile driven than the Prius, simply because it is much
heavier and therefore causes more wear on the road surface. There's a
fair correlation between fuel consumption and wear and tear caused by
a vehicle, since both correlate with vehicle weight.

Of course, this plan has zero chance of becoming law. There's no way
that people will consent to have government monitoring devices
installed in their cars, and the cost of installing the system would
be enormous, even if the people were willing. Every vehicle and every
gas pump would have to have some sort of device installed, and then
there would need to be some sort of central computer system to oversee
it all. Besides that, it would unfairly not tax people with
out-of-state plates, even if they do all of their driving in
California, and double-tax people with California tags who drive out
of state and buy gasoline in another state. I once took a 12,000-mile
road trip to Quebec and back; I shudder to think what my California
fuel tax would have been on the first fill-up back in the state.

If the current per-gallon fuel tax doesn't collect enough revenue to
maintain the roads, then we need to raise the per-gallon fuel tax or
find some other revenue source to augment the gasoline tax. It's that
simple, except of course for the part about getting politicians to
vote for something sensible but unpopular.

Frankly, I'm astonished that anyone takes this per-mile plan seriously.

Linc Madison * San Francisco, California *
<> * primary e-mail: Telecom at LincMad dot com
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