The California Legislature is looking at a voluntary program that would tax motorists for every mile they drive.
KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple reports that Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, introduced a bill to test out the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax because the state’s gas tax was no longer bringing in the revenue it used to due to people driving more fuel efficient vehicles.
It's been almost exactly 7 years now (May 8, 2007) and people still aren't listening to me.
Taxing miles creates perverse incentives for fuel efficiency. A $0.015/mile tax (the size of the tax mentioned in the article) is the equivalent of a $0.015 * X tax per gallon where X is mpg. In words, a mileage tax increases the tax per gallon the more fuel efficient the car. Now granted, with higher mpg you use fewer gallons to drive an equivalent number of miles, and in the end, everyone driving 100 miles will pay the same tax. And from a revenue perspective, that might be OK. But there might be a way to kill fewer birds with one stone.
As I have written a number of times, a more straightforward proposal is to simply raise the gas tax. Reaising the gas tax accomplishes a number of things 1) It raises revenue, 2) It discourages miles driven, and 3) It increases the incentive for higher fuel efficiency.
Because my previous posts on this have been written with an ironic twist (I propose a mileage tax that is inversely proportional to fuel efficiency and then show that such a tax is the equivalent of a $1/gallon gas tax), here's the direct, non-ironic version: A $1/gallon gas tax...
...places a higher burden on those driving less fuel efficient vehicles--that should satisfy those blaming the SUV drivers for all of the problems*.
...places a higher burden on those driving more. By increasing the marginal cost per mile driven, total miles driven should decrease.
...assuming fuel efficiency and income are negatively correlated--that is, the rich tend to drive larger, more expensive, less fuel efficient cars--[higher gas taxes] place a higher burden on higher incomes.
...provides an incentive for drivers to switch to more fuel efficient vehicles.
It's really simple. Why worry about complicated milage programs? The gas tax infrastructure is in place. Raise the gas tax and meet multiple public policy and economic goals simultaneously.