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Thread: California's New Idea on Vehicle Taxation--By the Mile via GPS

  1. #1

    Default California's New Idea on Vehicle Taxation--By the Mile via GPS

    So our government wants to nanny us further--big surprise. A proposal is moving forward in California to tax people based on mileage driven by using GPS in their vehicles. The article on the web is here: Bay Area Drivers Could be Tracked by GPS, Taxed Per Mile Driven

    The question becomes, why do they need GPS to do this? All you should need is either look at the odometer when a vehicle goes in for an inspection (smog, annual, whatever) and this gets tacked on to the vehicle registration, right?

    No, that's too easy, just like the tax on gasoline. With the tax on gasoline, the more you drive, the more you pay. Using GPS gives the government even more leverage--they can change the tax rate based on the time of day you drive; commute to and from work during rush hour and you can expect higher tax rates since you are adding to congestion. Not only this, but they can tax you on the route you take! Now, if you take heavily traveled roads, you pay more for drive.

    Why not just do like many states back east are doing and make toll roads? That should be simple, right? Except that now there is no tracking of who is where at what time. After all, that could be used to help law enforcement. Everybody knows that law enforcement already has an easy route to track you via your cell phone and also to view your text messages and call history, right? If not, read up on the article on Forbes.

    Thoughts about this?

  2. #2


    Ooh, look how unbiased that was...

    By-the-mile has its advantages and disadvantages. It would cheapen car travel for those who rarely use their cars, but could overcharge those dependant on their cars but are of lower income. I think it would solve as many problems as it would create, so wouldn't nesscesarily solve any problems, but simply a different way of doing things.

    The suggestion of doing it based on odometer readings is rediculous, could you imagine the abuse people could get away with.

    Overall, I think the GPS based method is a little silly, but a pay-per-mile model isn't entirely unreasonable

  3. #3


    California is absolutely pursuing the best and appropriate path with this.

    First, it's pretty easy to tamper with an odometer, so simply having the schmuck from the Secretary of State look at the number it reads is useless. Funny anecdote-my uncle worked for a big agricultural product company, and as part of his gig he got a company pickup. Since the company trucks all got driven pretty much all day every day, they racked up mileage very very quickly. What the company would do is let the employee drive it for awhile, then at a service interval where the odometer looked reasonable, they'd go in and unhook the odometer. After two years, the truck probably had 75,000 to 100,000 miles on it, but the odometer still read 27,xxx, a number that would be completely believable for a two-year-old truck when they went to sell it.

    Further, the gas tax is deeply flawed. First, it's a regressive tax, so it hits the poor and middle classes much much harder than it hits the rich. Second, as mileage for vehicles powered by liquid fuels increases and as the fleet moves further and further toward electrification, gas tax revenues are going to drop. Third, the political realities of trying to raise the gas tax make even keeping it apace with inflation pretty much impossible. Presently, the gas tax only covers about 40 percent of the costs of road maintenance, with the rest coming out of general funds. That shortfall comes in the forms of deferred maintenance and/or fewer police and firefighters.

    Now, had you come at it from a privacy angle, I would absolutely agree with you. I don't want the government knowing where I've been driving or being able to know where I'm at if they feel they need to know that. While the 4th Amendment should provide a pretty instant protection against this, our Supreme Court of the United States has demonstrated that they despise the 4th Amendment and are willing to throw it out the window if government is slightly inconvenienced (as a prime example, see Michigan State Police v. Sitz, the case that established the "constitutionality" of drunk-driving checkpoints by deciding that a warrant could be written that just happened to encompass every single lane of a highway and that even though there was not just cause to stop every motorist, the inconvenience was just not quite enough to call it an unreasonable seizure).

  4. #4


    I think the concept of by-the-mile tax is good, but the execution needs to be very carefully considered.

  5. #5


    I admit I am somewhat biased against a lot of the ridiculous stuff that California pulls and has us pay for, I won't argue that.

    Now, with regards to the tax, this is not based on income, so the tax hits the same way that a gasoline tax does, targeting the poor and middle class harder than it does the rich. I won't argue that an odometer can be tampered with (illegal to do), and much the same way one of these GPS modules can be tampered with. I will not argue that gas taxes will drop as the usage of gasoline drops with higher mileage vehicles and electric cars. This was why I suggested doing toll roads--now you can tax those people who DIRECTLY drive on that road. This can cover costs of road maintenance much better than a gasoline tax and taking money from a federal or state general fund (which, by the way, does not affect the city funds and the police and firefighters funded from those pools and hence does not lower those numbers).

    The biggest thing I see about this is that the state is not taking an easy way about this--converting roads to toll roads would not be difficult and would not require huge amounts of regulation and infrastructure built up to oversee this and will not invade on anyone's privacy. This would still allow the state to charge based on what road you are on and at what time. If California implemented the GPS requirement of this 'vehicle miles traveled' tax, there is now a massive database of where your vehicle is and when, tracking it at all times. If you read the wording behind this, it is only to be used for 'revenue generation and police investigations'. This is why I put up the article regarding the use by law enforcement of tracking of cell phone locations and text messages as opposed to wiretapping. The level at which this is already occurring suggests that it is far too easy to have law enforcement track everything you do for little to no reason.

    Recently, the SCOTUS ruled that placing GPS on suspect vehicles is unconstitutional in United States v. Jones, yet now it will be required to have the State of California track my vehicle?

  6. #6


    I will just start a new Nevada corporation and put my truck and motor home in the corporation name with Nevada plates.

    As i will be moving to the area just inside Calif near Reno i expect Calif wants tax me on miles driven in both Calif and Nevada.

    i would Guarantee that i could have a lot of fun with the state by asking for a readout of where i had been and claiming i had not driven the miles they claimed only to have there GPS reading show i was driving in the middle of lake Tahoe.
    i would just unplug the GPS unit and connect a battery and take a boat trip.

    these are a few reasons why state GPS tracking will not work
    rfcandy WebShop
    .:: Phrack Magazine ::.

  7. #7


    Yeah, I've got a thought, not very original and maybe deluded but here goes: Fuck. Big. Government.

    Btw, Reason Magazine had an article on the potential effectiveness of toll roads back around Feb I think, if you want I can look up the article for you.

  8. #8


    I am no fan of toll roads as I have friends in Dallas, Texas who bitch about the toll roads all over Dallas- they hate it. I have a friend of mine who goes out of her way to avoid the toll roads because she hates them with a passion despite they are more direct than regular roads. The only toll road around me is the Ohio Turnpike.

    Toll roads have their pluses but as well as disadvantages. Having been on the Ohio Turnpike many ties I can tell you that it is a better maintained highway but still- How would you feel having to pay a dollar or more a day to use a highway? My dad had to use the Turnpike regularly in the day- I'm talking 80s until 1991- by the way- and the costs add up.

    I am mixed on this as someone who has to listen to someone gripe about toll roads and having seen how better maintained the Ohio Turnpike is than the average Ohio interstate... I myself don't drive, but I do help pay the tolls and gas when I have to out of friendship.

    I'm mixed on this...


  9. #9


    As usual Calif has figured out how to increase the nanny state.
    Are ther going to keep track of the miles you drive out of state?
    In a way I'm glad for Calif. All of the hairbrained ideas that everyone knows won't work are tried there proving they won't work.
    WildThing121675 I also drive the Ohio Turnpike. Try E-Z Pass. The tolls are half and it is a lot quicker. It is also good from Ill to New England

  10. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Ringer View Post
    As usual Calif has figured out how to increase the nanny state.
    Are ther going to keep track of the miles you drive out of state?
    In a way I'm glad for Calif. All of the hairbrained ideas that everyone knows won't work are tried there proving they won't work.
    WildThing121675 I also drive the Ohio Turnpike. Try E-Z Pass. The tolls are half and it is a lot quicker. It is also good from Ill to New England
    I used to go to college down in NYC and driving down there after vacation or the odd-weekend home you had to go through 13$ of tolls, to a person from CT that's a lot. E-Z Pass looked appealing but does it track where you go or is it just a chip that reads into the system only when you go through the tolls and only transmits payment info?

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