Vehicle miles tax needs to be studied before implemented, GAO says

| January 11, 2013

This week, the Government Accountability Office recommended creating a pilot program to research mileage fees targeted at creating new revenue for the Highway Trust Fund, echoing recently introduced House legislation that would establish such a program.

The GAO, considered the investigative arm of Congress, issued the Jan. 8 report upon request by a House appropriations subcommittee.

As it stands now, federal fuel taxes primarily finance the Highway Trust Fund, but increasingly fuel efficient vehicles have eroded that revenue. State and federal governments have investigated alternatives to mitigate this shortfall, including charging drivers fees based on vehicle miles traveled.

Last month, Democrat Rep. Earl Blumenauer sponsored legislation that would create a pilot program in every state, similar to the program established in his home state of Oregon. Blumenauer’s bill was referred to committee Dec. 17 with no co-sponsors.

Trucking organizations, including the American Trucking Associations, have criticized VMT fees as costly for compliance, administration and enforcement. Industry leaders instead have supported adjusting the fuel tax rate to inflation, which has not occurred since 1993.

The GAO report noted the general public was resistant to using Global Positioning Systems to gather mileage data. Forty-five of the 51 transportation departments for every state and the District of Columbia reported privacy concerns would present a great challenge to developing a mileage fee program in their state.

Of the state conducted VMT studies, Oregon and Nevada plan to not use of GPS-based systems in future pilot studies because of public perception of privacy risks, it added.

Reliable start-up and administrative cost estimates to implement a passenger vehicle mileage fee system are not available, the researchers stated. Still, implementing a system to collect fees from 230 million passenger vehicles “is likely to greatly exceed the costs of collecting fuel taxes,” the GAO wrote.

If Congress further explores mileage fees, it should consider a pilot program to test viability of these fees for commercial trucks and electric vehicles, the researchers recommended. Also, the Federal Highway Administration should update estimates of road damages imposed by vehicle types compared with the tax revenues generated by each vehicle category.

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  • RED

    What do they think the gas tax is for!! Plus it encourages truckers to update their vehicle to get better mileage. We don’t need another bureaucratic mess and more paperwork!

  • bill

    just say no, i want go for this bs rip off, what are they going to doabout it if we all say shove it, they gona shut down all the trucks, i dont think they got that much power, they only have it if you let them!!

  • Don’t work don’t eat

    Has the government not already taxed us on mileage. Isn’t that what we pay on every gallon of gas and registration fees. More and more roads built r toll roads, is that not a mileage tax. I think so. Why is it we keep trying ways to tax road use and cut military? These r the 2 primary reasons we pay taxes. How bout cutting welfare and all other handouts that go to people who don’t want work and let our already existing taxes do what they were intended for!!

  • Jeff

    The ton mile tax like in Oregon, has been tried in Nevada and other is capable of not reporting accurate mileage and is abused.That is why Nevada no longer has it. If they need more money, then raise the taxes, BUT quit getting sub par contractors and lazy inspectors. And build the roads that will last. And quit using corrosives like sodiumchlorides to salt the roads and rots out the steel rebar in the roads and the steel structures on the bridges.. If you want us to pay more then we expect more.

  • Darrell Pitts

    The trucking industry needs to make it clear to the general public that any proposed mileage tax will be passed on to them in a price increase in every product they want or need.

  • rss

    Government will continue to tax and spend if we let them. The extra money they get will not go to roads but pork projects. Then they will be back for more. Just say NO and shut down.

  • jess mcclure

    the government will tax everything as long as they keep sending checks to people who wont work for a living , but ,they will have no problem having you work your ass off to pay all the government bills – as far as the roads are concerned the contractors will never make a highway to last more than two to three years , cause the government likes the kick backs so you have to keep those Union jobs greased just right – its a sad fact of life in America that the average person gets the shaft !

  • ilovedieselsmoke

    Let’s go back to wagon trains. Do away with trucks altogether & really become a third world nation. We’re on the path now so how about let’s just speed the process along. Maybe a government program to buy back all the trucks while issuing horses & Winchester rifles. I’m all for it. We could move along little doggie all day & have wishbone the cook prepare our meals under the stars at night. Yes three months on the trail to New york & return to California again. No more log books, electronic surveillance,CSA,DOT,FMCSA,OSHA,etc…….

  • JD again

    If the government woild stop stealing the money from the fund for other pet projects, it would help alot. The thieving in washington just keeps growing.

  • Detroitgman

    I have a 2008 truck and it gets two miles per gallon less than the 1999 that I traded in. So don’t tell me the fund is eroded. It’s probably healthier now than it’s ever been

  • old school trucker

    this is just another scam put a new tax in place and slowly raise it higher and higher then you can have double taxs then triple taxs that way absent minded people will not be able to pay attention and realize what is happening
    i remember decades ago the fuel tax going up a nickle here, a nickle there, to cover road repair the more you drove the more you pay you donot want to pay more, donot drive
    these are just scams the more government control, more gov. buracacies, more spending, more people to go to work for the government oh the gps just imagine what gov personel can do with that the possiblities are endless for spying, ease dropping and scourging the serfs
    it is just to simple to just add more to the fuel tax at the pump
    this has not been done in years, or decades, it seems
    it must be all the nitrates, sulfates, toxins, ect in the food chain, the water, the air how can people be so ignorant

  • Jeff Westy Westenberger

    bull shit strike sick of there horse shit

  • Jeff Westy Westenberger

    roads are shit beat your trucks up dot writes you up for broken stuff gov needs to stay out of our jobs period

  • Jeff Westy Westenberger

    2290 550.00 per truck you kidding me roads have been shit spend the money on the roads not crooks running this back pockets

  • Jeff Westy Westenberger


  • Razberry

    If GAO decides to levy taxes on truckers for using the roads then that should apply no only to truckers, but buses, and cars no matter who is driving them with not exemption for state, federal or local vehicle.

  • mousekiller

    It is not the fuel efficient vehicles that have eroded the fund it is government sanctioned theft of the fund and misappropriations of it. Now if this mileage tax is put into effect = Will it Eliminate the 2290-? Will it reduce the tax a the fuel pump for truckers,? I doubt it as it will become one more tax already levied on the trucking industry and will put more out of business. The answer is not to target trucks but to install a fair tax on cars.. NOT on weight but the same tax we pay per gallon for fuel. If our tax is 60 cents a gallon so should the cars. there are 10 times as many cars as trucks using our highways . Problems solve. Yes I drive a car and 2 pick-up trucks but if we are going to be taxed it needs to be one that taxes the highway users . Simpler solution is to stop stealing from the fund. Problem solved without increase in taxes. Looking at the broader picture, this is just like socialism in the early stages.Study history. Why do we call it the former USSR. ?

  • Dean Kirsch, Las Vegas

    I don’t know about today, but in the not too distant past Oregon’s ton mile tax was probably the most cheated tax in this country. It is expensive to comply, hard to enforce and much higher cost per mile than a fuel based tax. Again our government wants to increase costs on 99% of us to make up for the few bucks they will lose to electric cars.
    We currently put up with fuel price swings of 30 – 40 cents per gallon in a month or two, I would rather see a 10% increase in fuel tax at the pump than have someone auditing my state miles evary year.

  • Lynette Hall

    Truckers already pay road use tax for the US and then again for the state road use tax. ..that is in Arkansas!!! I do not know of other state have to pay for their state along with the US roads.

  • Patrick

    Lets see, the average volume of fuel a commercial vehicle uses in a year, 20,500g compared to a car @ 500g times the road tax of .47 equals $8610.00 – $235.00 respectivly does any one see a problem here? It’s obvious our elected officials having been schooled in slaughtering a “cash cow” know one when they see one..

  • Patrick

    Agreed this will work but there aren’t enough O/O or independent trucker out there that can afford it. The big players in the industry have sliced and divided the revenue and separated the drivers to a point where it’s almost impossible to achieve. Let alone the fact that pay for a driver is so minuscule vs cost of living anyone driving a truck is at the mercy of the industry. Granted the goods travel by truck, but we have been lied to for so many years by corporate america to believe it’s the government creating all these problems for us the majority of us are believing it..

  • Mike Tayon

    And which does the most damage to roads Mr. Wizard?

  • Mike Tayon

    Hell, let’s just tax everything! I propose a 2 cent tax every time someone drops a hot steamer! Also, while were in “there”, let’s tax everyone 2 cents who doesn’t wash their hands! What else? OK, how about a tax for eating fast food? That’s a good one! Or how about tax the non-smokers for using extra air when they work out? BRILLIANT one eh? FUCK ME! TAX THIS TAX THAT! SICK OF IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Andrea Sitler

    We charge FSC due to high fuel prices. What will we call this fee that we pass on? You pay highway taxes on gasoline. Diesel did not have highway taxes in it at one time but now it does and truckers pay a myriad of other taxes and excessive tolls as well. Pretty soon no one will be able to afford anything that moves by truck. O/O’s wont’ be able to afford to work. It will be back to the rail or barge. Then again, that appears to be the way LaHood wants it to be.

  • charlie

    Just as soon as you get the big 5 truck fuel stops to quit gouging might be good time to check into this. How can TN,GA,VA,AL all have the exact same fuel price, I know for fact their state tax is different. And i just took I40 across to flagstaff AZ, and fuel across 40 was 35 cents higher than across I-10 as i went to phoenix and took 10 back…..You want to increase all this crap and let everything run wild and you let big fuel cos. rip off all the owner/ops while the big trucking cos. pay practically nothing now for fuel……Hows about we start where the damn problems are and then work toward giving everythijng else to NOBAMA AND HIS HENCHMEN,,,THEY CLEARLY COULD CARE LESS IF ANYONE HAS A JOB AS LONG AS WE ARE TAXED OUT OF OUR JOBS,,,,THE MOST POORLY RUN GOVERNMENT I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY 57 YEARS..DOWNRIGHT SORRY MAN

  • OTRDriver

    Well Einstein, how much in fuel taxes do the High Mileage Hybrid vehicles or the Electrics >? And as for for your “damage” comment is irrelevant considering how many MORE automobiles are on the road to compared to CMV’s strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.