Other than, of course, the Rental Inspection Program?
Answer: “A mileage tax” according to the Seattle Times Editorial Opinion by Mariya Frost, this November 14.
Taxing every mile you drive, and inspecting every rental you own, is not unlike an after-Thanksgiving turkey – all will have been picked to the bone.
Why a mileage tax?
The Washington State Transportation Commission’s Executive Director Reema Griffith said, in effect, ‘government is not able to collect enough private data about driving behavior.
Said Griffith of the current situation – the gas tax – “We don’t know who’s filling, what kind of car it’s going in, what your car’s mileage is, we don’t know anything. So we’re kind of blind and it’s just collected and we’re done, it’s a flat rate.”
The mileage tax would ‘fix’ that. The mileage tax would literally “open the door,” get behind the wheel of the car you drive – or at least into the passenger or back seat – not to mention all the meanwhile pilfering your pocket of cash.
Would the gas tax then go away?
(Remember, were talking about the government here), Griffith said – in the same breath – ‘this would be a replacement and not a supplement to the gas tax, although (here it comes) the commission also says the gas tax would likely stay in place to ensure that out-of-state drivers pay for their use of Washington state roads.’
Oh, and then Griffith adds, “If they want to layer on some different objectives for maybe urban areas or to invest in all-weather roads or enhance snow removal on the pass … they can consider different rates in certain zones or certain locations. It kind of opens the door to all that again.”
Wonderful. An open door. And what door – and who is huffing and puffing at that door – is being pried open with this mileage tax? Your door, with government wolfishly leaning against it.
That, opines Frost, is an invasion of your privacy.
“A mileage tax could deteriorate this clear and fair system (gas tax) at a great social cost to the traveling public — potentially circumventing 18th amendment revenue protections, violating people’s privacy and giving government unrestricted power over how drivers’ tax money is spent.”
How eerily like a rental inspection program is the mileage tax? Every mile, every rental. Yet in place already, a clear and fair system: the gas tax. Ditto rental-landlord dispute resolution, likewise clear and fair and in place already: the Landlord-Tenant Act.
At risk with the government imposed mileage tax: a potentially circumvented 18th amendment. At risk with the government imposed rental inspection program: a potentially circumvented 4th amendment.
With both, a violation of people’s privacy while giving government unrestricted power.
“Like a small bird beating about the cruel wires of a cage,” (Joseph Conrad’s “Lord Jim”) are citizens wearied of escaping the cat-like clutches of government-types intruding into the once-protected confines – be they ever so humble – of car and home.
John Arbeeny says
The mileage tax, like the rental inspection program tax, like the recent $20.00 road tax (added to your Lakewood car tabs) are all over reaches by government that is both incompetent and invasive. This is the “after glow” of the 8 years of Federal level government incompetence and invasiveness from which are now just coming out. State and local governments take their cue from what their “big brothers” (as in Orwell’s prophetic book “1984”) in Washington DC can get away with…………..”stuff” flows down hill. I suspect it will take several years more before the swamp gets drained and we are able to enjoy competent government that stays within its proper limits as per the Constitution. Until then be prepared for attempts by the swamp dwellers to try and expand their influence into every facet of your life. I think they know that a day of reckoning is coming………time is running out for them…….and they’ll grab for as much as they can get before then. “How the mighty have fallen….”
Gary Turney says
A mileage tax is fairer than a gas tax. It’s effectively a use tax – those who use roads the most will pay the most. The problem, as noted, is implementing it. It could be easy enough to get total mileage. We (in the Pugest Sound area) already have biannual emission inspections, vehicle mileage could be recorded at the same time. I don’t find that particularly invasive, it’s certainly much better than the proposed recording chips insurance companies want us to install. The real problem with the mileage tax comes with traveling out of state – both out-of-staters coming into Washington and those of us who go on out-of-state road trips.
On another note, John I am amused by your obvious political bias and the “8 years of Federal level government incompetence” comment. That’s a pretty broad and narrow brush at the same time. If I buy that Federal government is incompetent (as a whole, I don’t), it didn’t just suddenly become incompetent 8 years ago. If it was incompetent 8 years ago, that incompetence started long before. Yes, I worked for the Federal government for over 33 years, and it takes time for change to be implemented, either good or bad.
Royal Fletcher says
The high mileage drivers are all ready paying more for their use of the roads than the average drivers, because of the use of more gasoline and the existing high taxes in place. The sad part of paying by mile driven would be the fact that every mile you drive out of state would still be charged as a mile driven in state.
Gary Turney says
Royal – That’s not necessarily true because of the variability in gas mileage of different vehicles. A Prius driven 25,000 miles a year at 50 mpg will pay less gas tax (on 500 gallons) than a Suburban driven 15,000 miles a year getting 25 mpg (600 gallons). (The mpg might be off, but my point is the same.) In fact it is this rising number of high-mpg vehicles that is causing the problem – the State is collecting less gas tax as average vehicle gas mileage increases. The concept of a tax on actual mileage would be more accurate and fairer, but it is hard to implement. You are correct that driving out-of-state would cause you to overpay, but mileage trackers could handle that. The bigger hurdles I see are 1) such a detailed mileage tracker is not acceptable to most people, myself included, and 2) there is no way to collect mileage tax from out-of-state cars so they pay no tax at all. Bottom line, I still think a mileage tax is fairer, but it is more difficult to implement so we are likely stuck with a gas tax for the foreseeable future.
David Wilson says
No comparison, again a big streatch for the govement hating mr. anderson.