Here’s something guaranteed to send the conspiracy theorists fleeing into the woods.

The state is looking for ways to shore up transportation funding, which is largely reliant on a per-gallon gas tax. Problem is, cars are getting much more efficient and more people are carpooling or taking public transit, so gas tax revenues are slipping.

Which means the government is looking at alternatives to the gas tax. One of them is a “vehicle miles traveled” (VMT) tax.

So how, you may ask, could the government possibly know how many miles you’ve driven? Take it away, Dave Gram of the Associated Press:

Vermont Transportation Secretary Brian Searles said calculating how much of a VMT tax is owed would be done through the global positioning system devices that are expected to be standard equipment in cars later this decade.

”It’s a GPS device that is capable of tracking location, time,” he said, adding that he was aware that might raise privacy concerns.

Oh, surely not. The government can tell where your car is at any moment in time? Nah, that won’t set off any alarm bells among the tinfoil-hat brigade. Especially when this idea comes out the same week as President Obama’s TEAR UP THE CONSTITUTION AND GRAB ALL THE GUNS!!!! plan.  

I can see it now. The state police enforces traffic laws statewide from a single central command post. Your car’s computer will be notified by the VSP computer of any traffic offenses you might commit, and will then communicate wirelessly with your bank to electronically transfer the amount of the fine to the state.

As part of health care reform, the health department will be able to tie in to the GPS, and will send a warning message if you park at a fast-food joint. And when you stop for gas, don’t buy any fatty snacks; the gas station’s computerized cash registers will be part of the system too. Buy a microwave burrito, and ding! your insurance premium goes up.

And don’t even think of stopping at one of those freeway “parking areas” to take a piss. They’ll KNOW.

I wouldn’t advise stopping at that 24-hour “massage parlor” either. Big Shummy is watching!


  1. just to have a gas tax tied to the make and model of your car?

    Some kind of a reader scans a code on the car at the pump and your tax is calculated according to predicted mileage.

    GPS?  Really?  Is he kidding?

    I’ve already experienced futuristic tracking on an express highway that bypasses

    Toronto.  No GPS involved.  They just photograph your license plate automatically when you enter the expressway and when you exit.  Then, a month later, you get a bill in the mail.

    No kidding.

  2. With people lacking guts to raise taxes.  Dog knows we can’t, you know, increase the gas tax which, turns out, is a pretty upfront way to tax mileage.

    Me, I’m firing up my constitutionally-protected hybrid drone fleet armed with hybrid Hellfire missiles to protect my right to cheap gas.

  3. So, do we get a bill from every state we drive in proportional to the number of miles we’ve driven in a given state each year?



    In a Time of Universal Deceit, TELLING the TRUTH Is a Revolutionary Act. ~ George Orwell  

  4. The combination of weight per axle and distance between axles has far more effect on the roads than the number of miles driven. If the problem is funding repairs to the roads, use tax policy to encourage lighter vehicles, since those vehicles do less damage, resulting in less need for taxes. It would also make sense to add a small fee to the purchase of studded tires, since they increase wear and tear on the road surface.

    Under the proposed scheme, I would pay more in taxes, because I drive more miles than most people, even though my car, due to its extremely light weight (2,550 lb curb weight) and short distance between axles (8.3 feet) does far less damage than most vehicles.  Compared to a not-uncommon GMC Sierra Crew cab, with 6,500 lb curb weight, and 11.9 feet between axles, my impact is much smaller. Gas tax is a very effective way to collect based on the impact of the vehicle: the larger and heavier the vehicle, the more damage it does to the roads, and the more gas it uses, thus it’s more sensible that the driver pays more in gas taxes.

    If the current gas taxes are insufficient to cover the cost of road repairs, raise them. It would likely take only a penny or two per gallon, which is less than the difference between two gas stations at the same intersection, and far less than the difference from one month to the next as the oil futures market does its regular bungie bounce.  

    I’d happily pay a few extra dollars per tire for my snows, and I’d happily pay a couple extra pennies per gallon to fund the roads, if we need it. Heck, I’d happily pay a bunch of extra pennies per gallon if we’d institute a “cap and dividend program” to incentivize carbon reduction.

    I won’t, however, happily subsidize the extra road repairs required because other people choose to buy heavy vehicles.  

  5. Yes, but the point is for you to be tracked everywhere you go every minute of the day.  Doing something sensible like your suggestion wouldn’t help the police-state move forward.

  6. We are already taxed by the amount of fuel actually used.

    This has nothing to do with taxes, and everything to do with government intrusiveness.

  7. Well, we could raise the gas tax.  That however is regressive as poor people tend to have cars with the lowest gas mileage.  A better way would be to undo the lowering of the marginal income tax rates that took place during the Dean administration and to close all the loopholes provided to the wealthy.  We could also redirect some of the corporate welfare that is now in place to the roads their big trucks now tear-up.  There are alternatives to the gas tax,

  8. I don’t like the idea of any regressive tax, but my point was that some pols would rather invent a whole new, more complicated, more intrusive tax than even raise an existing one that does more or less the same thing.

    Personally, I wish Shummy would follow Snelling’s lead and raise the top marginal rate again (Dean just let that sunset as designed, and that was fine post-recession).

  9. Vermont will lead the way on this. EZ Tax, a window mount tax box. Goes right next to your EZ Pass and FastLane. Save your receipts, you can get some credit back for mileage driven on the MA pole and the NYS Thruway.


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