Wednesday, April 20
Mileage Tax: Saying Goodbye to Fuel-Saving Incentives
Good for the Chronicle to publish a headline that recognizes the inequity in levying a tax on miles driven instead of on gallons of fuel burned: "Hybrids could pay more gas tax."
The story is that the federal government, specifically the Senate Finance Committee, is considering making a transition to a mileage-based--not energy-based--tax on driving.
I've said it multiple times before, so please forgive me for being repetitive. There's a good reason hybrids have become so popular, and that's the great saving on fuel costs that drivers of hybrids have earned by using less fuel. If the federal (or state) government implements the mileage tax, that saving is virtually gone.
And so what if hybrid drivers, who pay less tax, are "still out on the nation's roads contributing to congestion and wear and tear on an aging infrastructure"? With a gas tax increase (or road tolls), those costs will be covered. It's very simple. Gas-guzzlers should be charged for a greater share of taxes because they emit more pollutants as a result of consuming more gas, they contribute to our society's vulnerability to the world oil market's ups and downs (at the moment mostly downs for the US), and they often are heavier and make our pavement crack more--not to forget the greater damage they cause in collisions. Only when no vehicle on the road consumes any energy purchased from a gas station or other supplier--i.e., never--will it become necessary to keep a count of miles driven for the purpose of taxing system usage.
And doing so would cause a great risk to the public's privacy--but I won't go into further detail on that right now.
Until then, the road system can be maintained perfectly well by taxing what comes out of the pump--and, if not, transportation authorities like DOTs can charge tolls on freeways and expressways, the roads that take the greatest beating. If these practices are considered too politically infeasible, then we can correctly say our public officials are not acting in the public interest.