Should drivers pay by the mile instead of the gallon?
For nearly 80 years, motorists have paid a tax every time they put gas in their cars. What if they were taxed based on how far they drive instead?
That’s just what a number of groups, including the organization representing state transportation agencies, say ought to happen — and soon. With the cost of building and maintaining highways and mass transit outstripping the money collected from fuel taxes, and no appetite in Washington to raise tax rates, they say it’s time to redesign the way people pay for their transportation system.
The idea, known as vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) taxes, is likely to come up next week at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on ways to pay for future infrastructure. The Congressional Budget Office has talked up the idea, as did a group commissioned by Congress to explore transportation financing. Even the Obama administration floated the idea as part of a draft reauthorization of the highway funding bill, though the White House has since distanced itself from the idea.