Some States Want to Tax You Per Mile You Drive

By on

Hate paying taxes at the gas pump? Here, take this little black box and put it on your car’s dashboard instead.

That’s the proposal some states and cities want to offer consumers, the Los Angeles Times says. The box would track every mile driven and charge a tax based on the total. Critics argue the box might track more than that — things like speed and location.

As it stands, our major roads are funded by taxes on gasoline. But that plan is old, and not working as well as it used to, the Times says:

The push [for a mileage-based tax] comes as the country’s Highway Trust Fund, financed with taxes Americans pay at the gas pump, is broke. Americans don’t buy as much gas as they used to. Cars get many more miles to the gallon. The federal tax itself, 18.4 cents per gallon, hasn’t gone up in 20 years. Politicians are loath to raise the tax even one penny when gas prices are high.

At the federal level, a proposal to test the boxes on 10,000 cars has stalled. But several state and local governments are moving ahead and trying out mileage trackers — and lots of consumers are signing up.

“Thousands of motorists have already taken the black boxes, some of which have GPS monitoring, for a test drive,” the Times says. Oregon is testing the system on 5,000 cars, and Minnesota is trying it on 500. Illinois is trying it in trucks only, while Nevada has already done a test program with 50 cars. At least 17 other states are examining the idea.

There are several ways these devices could be used, including with or without GPS tracking. At least in Oregon, drivers who aren’t comfortable with the idea of the government monitoring their driving habits in any way can instead pay a flat fee based on the average number of miles driven by residents, the Times says. In New York City, officials want to give the boxes the ability to pay parking meters.

We already know that many consumers don’t mind this kind of technology if it saves them money on car insurance. Does it matter if the box belongs to the government? Would you consider using a government-issued mileage tracker? Comment below or on our Facebook page.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's "205 Ways to Save Money" as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

Check out our hottest deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 970 more deals!

Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.

  • 8o88y

    “We already know that many consumers don’t mind this kind of technology if it saves them money on car insurance.”

    And many consumers don’t mind being micromanaged like farm animals. Privacy isn’t just a nice luxury. It’s also a requisite for moral development, and the moral development of a certain critical mass is necessary for the survival of anything resembling democracy. Privacy enables people to develop the habits and intuitions for doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. Without privacy, we end up with enforced conformity.

    — Our future leaders have to come from somewhere, and if we’re a nation of enforced conformity, the people who determine the criteria that we have to conform to will have no moral compass to base those decisions on. Any astute observer should grant that our leaders already seem to have impaired moral compasses, and don’t care as much about the good of the country as they do about their power-struggles and self-enrichment. And the age of constant monitoring has only just begun. I weep for the future.

    — Hitler and Stalin would have loved this program, along with all the other tyrannical monsters throughout history.

    • Old Highland Guy

      I do believe we think alike. You did, however, forget Mao Tse Tung.

  • Old Highland Guy

    NO! This governnment has gotten totally out of hand. Big brother IS watching you! Stop the wasteful spending on stupid stuff, such as wars and illegals. Get our government finances under control the way we have to do it in this house. Our politicians are now socialist/communist dogs, and I think that is an insult to dogs.
    Welcome to the U. S. S. A. comrade!

  • Ronda

    Not just no, hell no.

  • MrEdw

    If Uncle Sam wants to tax us more, let him do it in a straightforward way, rather than in this rather subversive Big Brother fashion. Need tax for roads? Put on a “highway surcharge” with a stipulation that any funds gathered this way can ONLY be used for roads, and for nothing else (remember Social Security?)
    Letting our U.S. put a “black box” in our vehicles is opening Pandora’s Box. There’s no telling what manner of evils may result. Fines for exceeding the speed limit, or not turning on headlights at sunset, or going too slow on the Interstate, having a headlight out, or for running with a poorly-tuned engine (all that would have to happen is to connect THEIR black box with your car’s black box(es).)
    No. Best to be upfront, pass the #$T%! tax, and stop playing games.
    Either way, they intend to take the money from us. At least with a straightforward tax there shouldn’t be the inevitable highly-inflated charge for the device itself, which will have to come from SOMEWHERE. (Anybody care to guess where that is?)

  • Nadia Bryant

    I am in absolute agreement!!! I thought we lived in a free country??? let’s keep it that way! my privacy is priceless!

  • Kent

    This makes no sense. The heavier your vehicle, the more wear and tear you put on the road and you should pay accordingly. The gas tax is a good way to do this and it also penalizes the burning of gas as it pollutes the air we breath and increases our healthcare costs. Gas should be taxed mercillessly.

  • ModernMode

    Unfortunately Republicans refusal to raise any tax for any reason is leading to this.

  • Jason

    I assume all of you that are worried about your location being tracked don’t have a cellphone. If you do, your location is already being tracked even if you have the GPS feature turned off. If your car has OnStar or one of the other similar services, your location is being tracked. The ECU in your car is also recording data on your driving such as accelerator and brake positioning and speed.

    That said I’m not a big fan of an additional black box in my car. If states want to collect road taxes based on miles driven it would be simple to collect that data once a year when a vehicle’s registration is renewed. I like the idea of paying per mile driven instead of per gallon because I believe that those that use the roads more should pay more to maintain them.

  • stop datacollecting

    UMMM ON STAR!!!!! This tracks much more than you will know. Ever wonder where GM received its MILLIONS to give the “customer service” contract to concergys (onstar)……OUR GOVERNMENT….Wake up people. Your phones, tablets, cars, basically anything with GPS has some kind of ability to track you. What about your I-Passes Illinois? Don’t you wonder how long it will take them to figure out how to give you a ticket for going too fast between Toll A and Toll B? Convenience is costing you your freedom and soon a lot of cha ching (all in the name of safety though) LOL