Some States Want to Tax You Per Mile You Drive

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Several state and local governments want to swap a gas tax for a pay-per-mile tax — using a little black box to track your car's movements.

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.

Stacy Johnson

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