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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Gas/Diesel Tax Should Be Replaced With a Vehicle Miles Traveled Tax

Last week, an editorial in the Denver Post supported CDOT’s study of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax.  As the owner of two electric vehicles (EV’s), I have enjoyed being a “freeloader” when it comes to the construction and maintenance of the roads and highways I use. At the same time, I realize that more and more EV’s in service will mean that our already shrinking gas tax revenue for road construction and maintenance will virtually dry up in 10 to 20 years. 

It’s only right that all vehicles using our roads should pay their fair share of taxes to build and maintain those roads. At some point we freeloaders will outnumber those who are paying road taxes, and we and our vehicles will all suffer the consequences.
There will always be gasoline- or  diesel-powered vehicles, but within a very few years 80% or more of Americans will realize that EV’s economically meet their automotive needs. I predict that revenue from fuel taxes will decline by 5% to 10% per year for the next decade. That means that within two to three years, the funding crisis will become apparent enough that all legislative bodies, including Congress, will be forced to consider alternatives to the gas/diesel tax.
A VMT tax is not hard to implement, but it should be implemented on the federal level first, because we can’t adopt a VMT tax without eliminating the gas tax. The VMT tax will be easy to collect via our tax returns. Taxpayers would declare how many miles they traveled along with the make and model of their vehicle. They could understate their miles traveled, but will not understate it so much that they trigger an audit. The tax will still generate the revenue that is needed.

Published Dec. 1, 2016, in the YourHub section of the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.

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