Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
Privacy Government Transportation United States Politics

Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax 713

tiedyejeremy writes "As covered by the Crosscut Blog, the Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski, is proposing a change in the funding of the Oregonian transportation system that drops gasoline taxes and, by way of GPS tracking, taxes the number of miles driven, to the tune of 1.2 cents per mile. The reason for the proposed change is that lower fuel consumption via fuel efficiency will leave the system underfunded. The concerns involve government tracking of the movements of vehicles within the state, though this has been denied by ODOT official, James Whitty. I'm wondering how this affects people using the Interstate System and private roads, and if the outputs can or will be used by law enforcement to check alibis."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Oregon Governor Proposes Vehicle Mileage Tax

Comments Filter:
  • It's either/or: If the gas pump detects your GPS computer, it charges you $.012/mile. Otherwise it charges you $.25/gallon. Or thereabouts, I haven't heard what the new gas tax portion is going to be.
    Oh, and also it's only on NEW cars- old cars are grandfathered into the gas tax.

  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @04:50PM (#26271497)

    Then you raise the tax. What's the downside? It's not like people are going to consume less gas if the tax goes up.

    Actually, it's exactly like that. When the price of gas was up summer travel plummeted which impacted tourist destinations everywhere, even stuff in the same state where most of the visitors came from. Also less needed visits like mall visits or museum visits go down, as people cut back on non-essential travel.

  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:12PM (#26271895)

    You really think an odometer is harder to tamper with than a GPS tracking unit?

    Ignoring direct alteration of tracking data stored on media that you have physical access to -- which is well within the realm of possibility for anyone with a JTAG interface (and quite probably anyone with a serial interface) -- you could simply add a local GPS simulator to your vehicle so the government-mandated unit always got radio signals telling it the car was sitting in your driveway. Such hacking is totally wireless -- it requires no electrical interface to the GPS system -- so it could be added/removed or activated/deactivated even by a brain-dead tax-dodger.

  • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:26PM (#26272141)

    Or you can easily block them: []

  • by JeffAMcGee ( 950264 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:40PM (#26272321) Homepage
    It is proportional to the forth power of the weight: [] .
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:51PM (#26272467)

    As cars get more efficient in terms of gas use, the gov't wallet slims down.. but given the same car in terms of e.g. weight, footprint (literal - i.e. tires-on-road), it doesn't matter whether you're super-efficient or the worst gas guzzler in the world... you're still putting the same wear-and-tear on that road.

    But taxing by the mile may be less reflective of wear and tear on the road than taxing by the gallon. You see, the larger the vehicle, the more wear and tear. This also correlates to some degree with the gas used by the vehicle. Huge SUVs cause more wear because of their weight and at the same time tend to use more gas. Ditto for cargo trucks and semis. Since gas used reflects the umber of miles travelled as well, this seems like a tax that would financially discourage transport companies and individuals from moving away from gasoline power (something anyone with a clue about the environment, global politics, or military preparedness would probably disapprove of).

  • by JoeFromPhilly ( 792856 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @05:52PM (#26272487)

    I'm unfortunately failing to recall the term for a good with an inflexible rate of consumption.

    The term most frequently used for this situation is inelastic demand. Gasoline is the poster child for inelastic demand. Consumption only dropped from 9.29 million barrels a day in 2007 to an average of 8.99 million barrels a day in 2008. Perhaps data of finer resolution might show a more interesting drop off, but the high prices of earlier this year appear to have made little difference in the yearly data.

  • Free health care and you pay less in taxes than Americans. Most Americans insist that isn't true, and it's not if you make over a million a year.

    There may be a reason that most Americans insist this: []

    Not only is the income tax higher - often considerably - but on top of that there's that lovely VAT.

    But hey, enjoy your fantasies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:28PM (#26273601)

    Your example of an inefficient car is a Toyota Corolla LE??? It gets 38 mpg!

  • by cortesoft ( 1150075 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:41PM (#26273719)

    I am not going to argue that we Americans pay more or less in taxes, but your link doesn't really make your point. For one, as the large banner at the top of the page points out, the numbers presented may or may not be inaccurate. Secondly, even assuming the numbers are correct, they appear to reference the top income tax rate. Not knowing the lower tax rates, how income is calculated for tax purposes, and other information, is is impossible to determine the effective tax rate as compared to the United States. Showing a chart of the alleged top tax rates in other countries doesn't really demonstrate anything actually.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2008 @07:48PM (#26273781)

    Ok, I think that everyone here is missing the point. You are all being lied to. This is proof positive that the government doesn't really care about taxing gas in order to encourage fuel efficiency. They don't care about cars getting better gas mileage. They don't care about wear and tear on the roads. They don't care about any of the "reasons" they give for creating a new tax. Those "reasons" are actually EXCUSES to tax you some more. They are EXCUSES to put GPS units on your car. They are EXCUSES to take more of your money and to put more controll on your life. The more dependant you are on the government, the more job security and personal power politicians have. So go ahead. Believe that somewhere, somehow even some of this intrusive nonsense is necessary. Argue about it. It's all just a smoke screen. It's just an excuse to make government bigger.

  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:12AM (#26276685) Journal

    I don't know about Oregon, but when I lived in New Jersey they tried to change the gas-pumping law, so I got to see what the politics around it were.

    • Safety - if you let amateurs pump gas instead of trained professionals, you'd have gas stations exploding right and left, the way they do in the rest of the country, like every week! The only reason you don't see that on national TV is that it's so routine, it only makes it to local news, right?
    • Grandma. Your Grandma - Making consumers pump gas would mean that your grandma is going to have to get out of the car into the snow on her walker to pump her gas, because most gas stations won't have Full Service, and the ones that do will charge far more than for self serve and your grandma won't be able to afford it. Yes, the newspapers really do get letters like that any time they propose changing the law. New Jersey's full-serve gas is almost always cheaper than self-serve across the border in PA or NY; I suspect Oregon's isnt'. (Here in California, gas stations have to pump gas for handicapped people for no extra charge, but our gas taxes are about 50 cents higher than most of the country's, so grandma's still getting ripped off.)
    • Small non-chain gas stations - AFAICT, this is the real issue - small gas stations that mainly make money by fixing cars but also pump gas are able to compete with the bigger chain-owned stations if everybody has to have full-serve gas, but with self-serve, a big-chain station can have one cashier serving a dozen pumps, and the little guys can't compete, especially if they don't have room to expand, which typically they don't.

    A few years back in was in NJ on business, and pulled into a gas station to refill my car. The guy said his guy who pumped gas was on lunch break and wouldn't be back for 10 minutes, so I went and pumped my gas, having forgotten that that was highly illegal, and he yelled at me when I went to pay. Fortunately, I didn't blow up the gas station or force anybody's grandma out into the cold and snow while I was there :-)

  • by digitalunity ( 19107 ) <digitalunity@[ ] ['yah' in gap]> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:58AM (#26277289) Homepage

    First, let me tell you my qualification to discuss Oregon taxes. I lived there for 12 years, and worked there as an out of stater from Washington for 8.

    Currently, something like 45 states have a sales tax. Oregonians have rejected a sales tax for a variety of reasons, one of which being that they think the income tax won't go away entirely and they will just get double taxed.

    Also, rich people certainly pay more in absolute dollars per capita under an income tax but it's not linear. Higher bracket households have disproportionately more tax deductions than lower income households and don't pay the same percentages.

    Sales tax doesn't entirely fix this disparity since higher income households are the most likely to make major purchases from out of state due to availability of the types of goods they often buy.

    One serious annoyance for me was that I worked about 3 miles into Oregon while living in Washington and had to pay OR state income tax while receiving no tangible benefits for this tax. I used about 6 miles of road per day, that's it. And to top it off, my state income tax didn't even give me the right to vote on HOW they spend my money.

    So, back to your question. Sales tax is generally favorable to income tax in my opinion. I don't think it will ever work for Oregon though. They depend on workers from southern Washington to prop up their income tax and that would disappear if they switch to a sales tax. Also, literally billions of dollars annually are pumped into the Portland metro area by shoppers from WA state looking to avoid their own sales tax.

    Yes, its illegal but it happens every day.

  • by Overzeetop ( 214511 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:19AM (#26279031) Journal

    I prefer using a gross receipts tax. Any money you receive in return for goods or services is generally recorded (unless it's an under the table transaction, which is currently invisible anyway). You pay a small percentage on that. No deductions, no exclusions. You can have a sliding scale percentage, but all the money is on the table. I'd like to see it identical for personal and corporate entities.

    We have a GRT for businesses in my town, and it's very difficult to game. Of course it's a fraction of a percent, so hiding a transaction here or there doesn't really help much. I think I figured once that the federal government could live on 2-3% GRT. My mother hated the idea because she was about to sell a house, and that seemed unfair. I pointed out she just gave 6% to some fool who did nothing but put a sign in her yard - and how much was it worth to defend that land and guarantee her right to own it in the first place. She wasn't swayed :-)

  • by prolitariac ( 929745 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:27AM (#26279061)
    I think this link is much more interesting/informative. []
  • Dutch Taxes (Score:2, Informative)

    by the grace of R'hllor ( 530051 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @09:46AM (#26279173)

    I only know about Dutch tax rates []

    Looking at the income tax, you can see it's nicely staggered. In practice, I pay almost 40% income tax. Everything I buy, and every service I use, takes VAT of 19%, except for foods and related services, which is 6%.

    A car is still the money-farm for the Dutch government. To buy a car, you get a list price. In my case, a car had a list price of about 14k euro's. Then I have to pay:
    - BPM: 42.3% of the list price. Unjustified tax, just goes into the main government pot.
    - VAT: 19% over the list price plus BPM.
    Total cost: 14000*1.423*1.19 = 23707, which makes it 59% tax, to buy a vehicle. With my wages, which have already been taxed for almost 40%. Or my savings, which are also taxed for 1.2% a year if they're big enough.

    Then we have to pay road tax, and gasoline. Gas is currently cheap at EUR 1,18 per liter or so, or US$6.28 per US Gallon, about 70% of which is also tax.

    In car-related taxes, about 17 billion euro's were collected, of which about 4 billion were spent on our overly congested public road system (in repairs. The road quality is generally good, the planning and scalability aren't)

    I'd say we pay more than you Leftpondians :-)

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson