Thursday, February 9, 2017

Vehicle Taxation by Mileage -- California Simulation

At a recent ASCE* web discussion board the subject was VMT taxation which is scheme where the usage of roads (mileage or Vehicle Miles of Travel or VMT) is used as a base to collect highway taxes in addition to or instead of the fuel taxes.

I'll discuss the pros and cons at another time. There are many and quite complicated pros and cons because of the means and technologies involved, the rates involved and of course the "big brother" syndrome, all which open a Pandora's box of social, political and taxation implications.

Meanwhile a user on the board posted a number of interesting pictures of his simulated VMT highway tax collection along with a sample bill, as shown below.

Clearly, the system knows the driver's exact route, his speed compliance and provides ratings for his braking and cornering performance. Too much info in the hands of the government, right?

In California they still exempt electric vehicles from taxes, but part of the the VMT tax justification is to address the disparity of EVs using highways but paying no fuel tax. This is another controversy.

An overarching question is this: Is a complex system for VMT tax collection and the necessary big government behind its oversight and administration worth it? How much of the extra taxes will actually wind up spent of highway maintenance and improvement?

(*) American Society of Civil Engineers