Aftermarket Insider Issue 71 - (Page 10)
i N S i D E L EG i S L AT i o N
DebaTing The DriVing Ta x
Could a Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax Replace the Good Old Gas Tax?
The first push for considering VMT use came from the environmental community, with the belief that if people actually watched the cost of their “driving tax” increase on a metering system, they would voluntarily cut back on their driving.
been used by various federal agencies for years as a measurement, but the VMT acronym has now been showing up in academic studies, “think tank” white papers and proposed state and federal legislation as a possible basis for taxing motorists. It finally drew serious media attention when the White House floated the idea of potentially using VMT, as a replacement for the long-standing gas tax, in May 2011. The first push for considering VMT use came from the environmental community, with the belief that if people actually watched the cost of their “driving tax” increase on a metering system, they would voluntarily cut back on their driving. With the growth of hybrids, alternativelyfueled vehicles and an overall increase in vehicle fuel efficiency, the highway community (highway designers, builders and consultants) has witnessed the government dipping in to the General Fund to cover the bankrupt
Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has
Highway Trust Fund (HTF) to the tune of about $30 billion from 2008 to 2010. The HTF method of maintaining and constructing our country’s roadways, based largely on a gasoline tax, needs some serious tinkering. It may be that these two groups, typically on opposite sides of any transportation issue, might be moving toward common ground, but they are definitely facing serious obstacles.
Road-Mapping the Complicated New Tax Concept
illustrate one of the variables, consider that some highway construction and maintenance costs like weathering are fixed, but pavement damage from heavy vehicles is caused by use (or VMT). The ability to achieve an equitable balance between these and other differences in a VMT tax may be the key to success for this idea. A challenging impediment to striking this balance is the disparity between urban road use with shorter, frequent and heavily-congested trips, and rural road use, with longer trips to work and school. Additionally, if you consider the data showing that drivers in lowincome and/or rural households are more frequently found driving pick-ups or older vehicles, which can be less fuel-efficient, then you can see how easily attempts at creating formulas are thwarted. Public record shows ample evidence that the urban and rural factions each have their own Congressional defenders, both for and against VMT as a tax method.
VMT as a tax method depends on the monitoring of motorist travel data. The issue of privacy will be, politically, the most difficult to overcome. An integral component of this concept is the distinction of costs: those costs associated with emissions and the resultant greenhouse gases (GHG) more prevalent in heavily congested urban areas, which are directly attributable to fuel consumption; and those costs for pavement damage, accidents and noise which are tied to miles traveled. To
10 | AFTERMARKET INSIDER | VOLUME 71
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Aftermarket Insider Issue 71
Aftermarket Insider Issue 71
Your AAPEX Experience
Wiping Out Breast Cancer
Toolbox: Smart Socializing with Co-Workers
Aftermarket Insider Issue 71