Congress Considers Mileage Tax Based On Your Income Level or Type of Vehicle You Drive
Washington D.C. – An interesting exchange during a U.S. Senate hearing last week revealed lawmakers may consider imposing a vehicle-miles-traveled (VMT) tax based on how much money the owner of the vehicle earns.
Right now on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are considering proposals to impose a VMT tax on passenger and commercial vehicles as part of legislation to reauthorize funding for federal highway programs.
During a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) hearing last Wednesday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) had an illuminating exchange with Dr. Patricia Hendren, executive director of the Eastern Transportation Coalition.
Dr. Hendren, who was testifying in support of moving to a VMT tax, was asked by Sen. Cardin if studies on the issue show the impact it would have on lower to middle income Americans.
Dr. Hendren responded by indicating more research is needed to fully understand the ramifications the burdens such a tax would impose.
However, Sen. Cardin pressed her further.
“I understand that more work needs to be done,” he said. “We’re impatient right now because we’ve gotta act, so if we’re going to act in this Congress to do a transformational improvement in our infrastructure and we need to have revenues, but we don’t want to adversely impact middle and low income, what do we do?”
Dr. Hendren responded by explaining “the benefit of a distance-based approach versus a fuel tax is you have more policy levers.”
Then she directly answered the question.
“The way you set your rate is the answer to your question,” she stated. “So, you can have one rate that’s the same for everyone. We can also look at rates that would vary based on where you live, income level, type of vehicle… there’s a lot of options.”
Truckers could be singled out first
A proposal supported by a bi-partisan group of legislators calls for imposing a trucks-only VMT tax.
Click HERE to see why transportation analysts warn this is a bad idea.
Supporters of the trucks-only VMT tax argue it is a way to both raise an additional $2.6 billion per penny of tax per vehicle-mile while also introducing Americans to the idea of a mileage-based taxation system on a national scale.
Even if Congress chooses not to target truckers ahead of the general motoring public, the idea off a mileage-based fee is gaining traction among federal lawmakers.
Chairman of the EPW committee, Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE), and ranking member, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), each expressed interest in including a VMT tax into the upcoming surface transportation reauthorization legislation due in September of this year.
“I think this is something that it seems like we have bi-partisan, very large, interest in and something we ought to really consider as we’re moving forward,” Sen. Capito said.
Sen. Carper agreed, stating, “Things worth having are worth paying for. Those who use our roads have a responsibility to pay for them.”
TransportationNation.com will be monitoring this issue closely.