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Monday, January 7, 2013

Taxing fuel-efficient cars

Buying an automobile that doesn't guzzle gas may save you money on gas, but it probably won't save you from gas taxes for too much longer. Up in Washington State (motto: "That's some badass weed'), they've instituted a new $100 a year tax on electric vehicles, effective February 1. It applies only to purely electric cars, and there are only 1,600 of them in the state at the moment. But it's a first step toward adding new taxes to fossil fuel taxes to raise public money for "transportation" costs (or whatever else the politicians can get away diverting it for).

Here in Oregon, they're proposing using some sort of tracking device in each vehicle to determine actual mileage, and impose a tax based on miles traveled. The first phase of the "public involvement" game on that one has been a pilot program, in which devices were placed in the cars of a few dozen people to see what they thought. They were all volunteers -- people like true believer Metro commissioner Bob Stacey and state transportation commissioner Mary Olson -- and of course, they all say it was wonderful. They paid tax based on mileage, and got a refund of the tax they paid at the pump. Some were allowed to use their cell phones, which seems kind of odd, and if they traveled out of state, they used a gizmo that tracked their vehicle's every movement.

Needless to say, there's big bureaucracy on the horizon, and the potential for a lot more government intrusion into one's life. But the insatiable tax least must be fed. There'll be a carbon tax if you burn gas, and a mileage tax if you don't. And if you take a walk, they'll tax your feet.

Comments (34)

Tax bikes before feet!

Taxes, insurance, licensing for all bikes - it's for the children of those mown down by bicyclists.

More bike on pedestrian injuries than ped/ped, I'll wager.

Plus, it pushes a button.

Just watch...

6B or 6C I forget which.

So easy to calculate a flat registration type tax and add it on to the registration, but no, ODOT has to waste bundles of money to develop an unnecessary and unneeded mileage tax. Guarantee that whatever paper promises are made about privacy will be shredded the next time there's a Kyron Horman.

(What's 6A?)

Tracking devices are in my view an unjustifiable intrusion of personal privacy. They might as well put ankle bracelets on us like criminals on probation.

It amazes me that there is not more uproar about this, it's obviously what the state has in mind for us all.

And why wouldn't Oregon tax out of state miles? Oregon taxes out of state income for residents.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to ad a couple of cents to the state gas tax? You get revenue from out of state motorists too. Maybe that is too simple of a solution for our “make up problems to make more laws,” moronic legislature.

The concept of a road user tax is simple; the more a person uses the infrastructure, the more that person pays. The gas tax is just such a user fee. Larger motor vehicles for the most part tend use more fuel than smaller vehicles and therefore pay more in user fees. Equity and fairness require that all road and specialized infrastructure users also pay a proportionate share of what they utilize. This must include electric vehicle users, bicyclists and transit passengers.

For electric vehicle users, the most sensible thing to do would be to apply a variable user fee at charging stations – in addition to paying for the same amount of electricity – and also require a user fee meter on home charging systems. For bicyclists, a $50.00 a year license should be required for anybody 18 or older. For transit passengers whom on average only pay 25 percent of the operating costs, a surcharge needs to be added to fares.

2013 Jan 07 Monday 13:40 U

Lots more to say on this subject
of GPS road Toll devices in all
Oregon vehicles.
But need to head south to OC and
witness Clackastani oath of office.

Some websites to sample (and become aware!)
Birdshill CPO / NA 2012 April Program
Video capture (1:42:00) Thanks JR!
Skymeter Website

Enjoy Freedom
(While you can!)
Charles Ormsby (Skip)

Meanwhile, cars with studded tires are allowed to chew through the infrastructure, for up to six months a year, at your expense.

Installing a tracking meter in every vehicle is ridiculous. Just get the annual miles upon registration and add it to the fee.

Installing a tracking meter in every vehicle is ridiculous. Just get the annual miles upon registration and add it to the fee

Odometer fraud is already a huge deal as it is...

I like the GPS trackers because it would do a great job of tracking what roads are used, when, how often...and if the data is used CORRECTLY could be used to spend the money on where it is needed the most.

Right now most traffic counts are only done on a three year cycle, using a series of "road tube" counts that are several days long. There are, in some areas, permanent vehicle counters, but those are way expensive to set up and maintain (they have to have a power supply, telephone line, computer equipment kept in a weatherproof enclosure, the vehicle sensors have to be maintained and periodically replaced...)

I agree that there is the invasion of privacy aspect so those who really don't want it should be able to opt out...but there needs to be a way that will for sure track their miles without the potential of odometer fraud.

I don't like tracking meters... better to just hire more fish counters and redeploy them in the off season.

I'd give this a 6D, but I thought that was just for Portland sheople, not the statewide dummies. But what do I know....

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to ad a couple of cents to the state gas tax?

Or perhaps some of the other solutions such as electric cars, etc. having other fees instead of the rest of the population being monitored.
But, the "tracking" concept is what is being pushed here, getting us all used to more surveillance, and being tracked. I am sure they will figure some way of getting us to really believe this time it is for the children.

How far can this go?
See "Fahrenheit 451"!!

John Benton:

Wouldn’t it be so much easier to ad[d] a couple of cents to the state gas tax?


Nope -- that would be asking regular car users to pay the user fee for the electric car users. Sorry, no deal.

I don't want tracking devices as a solution. But the electric car user has to pay for the wear and tear on the roads, too. Of course, they should join the rest of us and try to do something about how too much of our gas tax money goes to light rail projects while pot holes, cracks, and other road maintenance work is ignored.

Bob Tiernan
NE Portland

I wondered how long the honeymoon would continue. Gee, they only just noticed that electric vehicle owners don't buy gas?

I can't feel too sorry for them. Only the well to do could afford to buy these vehicles when they came out and reap the benefits and write-offs.

Road usage might be the only fair way to go; that or more toll roads and bridges like they do back east.

And I'm with Alan. I started grinding my teeth when the date for studs arrived and I immediately started hearing the sound of studs on perfectly bare roads. It's bad for the roads and its stupid for consumers who are grinding their studs down so that they're less effective when they're finally needed.

Learn how to drive in bad weather and get a good all-weather tire. Studs are unnecessary in most cases. Ask mid-westerners.

All this tracking nonsense seems completely unnecessary and potentially dangerously intrusive. What do we have now? A border installation that sucks the untaxed gasoline out of your car when you enter Oregon, requires you to by Oregon-taxed gasoline to drive here, and reverses the process when you leave? I think not. A flat annual fee in lieu of a gas tax, or a mileage-based tax (with a sealed odometer to prevent the tampering that really isn't possible on a modern car anyhow) should be good enough.

Me, I'm simple.
Since you report your miles each time you DEQ your vehicle just slap those eco-mobiles with an excise tax each renewal time...
Or is that too easy ?

Allan and Bojackers...

Singapore has a significantly higher gas tax than Malaysia, and there are signs as you approach the bridge that state that all Singapore registered vehicles need to show at least 3/4 full on their gauge at the border crossing with Malaysia or they wont let you over...
Keeps you from filling up with inexpensive Malaysian gas and coming straight back across...

Also: my problem with intrusiveness is one that I had with a toll transponder in a state where I used to live... Apparently I made it from one toll plaza to another just a little TOO quickly, and I actually got a speeding ticket in the mail... Was i speeding, heck yes, but not absurdly so, probly doing 80 in a posted 65 at midnight...
fought it and won, BTW...

Cheers, It's Mike


And why wouldn't Oregon tax out of state miles? Oregon taxes out of state income for residents.


The difference is that the taxes are [supposed to be] how drivers pay for the wear and tear they cause to the roads, so taxing someone for the miles he drives outside of Oregon is not right.

Bob Tiernan
NE Portland

Or is that too easy ?

In my view, this isn't about easy anymore.
It simply doesn't fit with the push for more stringent control of the population. By the time they are done with all the behavioral changes, compliance, fees, surveillance, body scans, you name it. . .
I consider it a nightmare, but then this isn't the kind of world I grew up in.

The people who buy electric vehicles will smugly welcome this tax with open arms. If we are ever going to move this technology beyond the fringe we need to make it affordable for the everyman/woman to own such vehicles. It shouldn't be a toy for rich people who could give a s#@t about a measly $100 tax. Obviously, it's important to develop competitively affordable electric generation for electric cars to make sense.

Interesting point about road wear:

Family cars (except studs) cause very little wear. The biggest wear is transit buses (which pay NO tax), then trucks (which pay a weight-mile tax). Electric cars are usually light weight, so would be expected to cause almost no wear.

Building entirely new roads is a different issue.


They want to raise taxes. And we ("we") voted these guys in. Are we ("we") not fools?

That would be YES.

Sam, I guess you missed it yesterday. To conserve bandwidth this year, we are requesting that that comment be referred to simply by its number, 6B, rather than typing out the whole comment. Thank you.

It will be an icy day in Hell when I let them install a GPS tracking system on my Studebaker.


On your Studebaker car or Studebaker mule driven wagon?

I drive an EV and I'm ok with paying to use the roads--it's only fair. But I won't allow a state GPS to track me. Nor will I make a trip to DMV to have them confirm my mileage. They'll have to come up with another way. And not the flat fee like Washington. That's not fair because some will drive a lot a others will drive little.

"....On your Studebaker car or Studebaker mule driven wagon?"

Starbuck: A Studebaker car of course, what do you take me for, some kind of reactionary kook?


Here ya go, old son

Thanks Starbuck-
Here's one for you......

But, the "tracking" concept is what is being pushed here, getting us all used to more surveillance, and being tracked.

Do you have a cell phone? If so, then you are already being tracked.

Any time TOD!

"Hey water boy! Bring that bucket down!"


Interesting point about road wear:

Family cars (except studs) cause very little wear. The biggest wear is transit buses (which pay NO tax), then trucks (which pay a weight-mile tax). Electric cars are usually light weight, so would be expected to cause almost no wear.


Yes, heavier vehicles such as trucks cause almost all of the wear and tear and those who are always trashing cars need to remember this when they are accusing us of "not paying enough" for the wear and tear we cause.

However, we have this user fee known as gasoline tax and those who drive electric vehicles should pay a user fee as well. Perhaps when they start paying this they will also start to question (and even oppose) the diversion of this money to light rail projects.

Also (not that you mentioned this), I object to electric vehicles being referred to as "clean". Their "fuel" (electricity) is generated in part by burning coal, out of sight, out of mind.


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Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
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Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
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Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
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Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
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Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
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L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
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Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
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Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
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Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
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Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
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Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
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King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
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John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
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Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
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Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
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Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
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Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
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