Netherlands The Latest To Propose Mileage Tax That Requires GPS For Tracking Driving

from the what's-wrong-with-the-gas-tax? dept

Matthew Cruse alerts us to the news that the Netherlands is the latest in a long line of governments that are considering a "mileage tax" that would require drivers to have GPS devices that track how far they drive, and then tax you for every mile driven. Various US states, including Oregon, California and Massachussetts have toyed with such ideas, and while some in Congress have pushed for it on a national scale, the Obama administration has come out against the idea.

There are lots of problems with the idea, including the privacy implications of the government collecting data on your driving habits. Plus, the massive expense of equipping cars with such devices should not be underestimated. But, the biggest question of all is why such a thing is needed at all. We already have taxes on fuel, which approximates the same thing (the more you drive, the more you pay) which doesn't have the same expense or privacy implications and has the added benefit that it helps encourage more fuel efficient driving. The idea to do a GPS-based mileage tax seems like one of those things that politicians come up with because they want more money, and they get infatuated with some new technology, without thinking through the implications (at all).


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  1.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 8:24pm

    Popular Mechanics had a pretty good Write-Up of the debacle in Oregon back in January.
    (Full Disclosure: I live in Oregon) Of course I thought it was a bad idea then too.
    "Nothing dies harder than a bad idea."
    Julia Cameron

     

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  2.  
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    Kazi, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 9:16pm

    Wouldn't installing meters on cars be a better solution with tolls on roads? Why would I have to pay a toll and then have it metered using GPS ... nonsense like car property taxes.

     

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    Jorge, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 9:22pm

    We already have taxes on fuel, which approximates the same thing (the more you drive, the more you pay) which doesn't have the same expense or privacy implications and has the added benefit that it helps encourage more fuel efficient driving.

    Since fuel prices are high, efficient driving had to happen, sooner or later. It's not a tax or environmental thing. It's money, or the lack there of. The same for governments. Since people use less fuel, they have to think of other ways for the population to "pay up".

    On privacy, I'm wondering if the this is a good thing speech as in "we-found-the-people-responsible-for-doing-these-horrible-things-because-of-the-GPS-installed-in-the -car", etc. followed buy the "honest-people-have-nothing-to-hide" speech.

     

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    Perry K (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 9:23pm

    this is perfect .....

    The insurance companies need access to this data to so that they can tell if you drive way more than you tell them and charge you accordingly.

    They also need it for automatic collision detection so we can't avoid settling fenderbenders without automatic claims.

    And the various police department need this data to automatically generate speeding tickets. (who needs radar when you have GPS)

    Advertising billboard companies need this data to tailor their electronic ads to your driving habits.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 9:52pm

    "We already have taxes on fuel, which approximates the same thing"

    Governments want another tax on top of the gas tax. There no law against duplicative taxes.

     

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  6.  
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    EdB (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 9:57pm

    electric cars

    don't use taxed fuel.

     

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    EdB (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:01pm

    oops

    hit it too quick :(

    No matter the fuel source or efficiency, wear and tear on a road is related more to the size of the vehicle than the distance it travels. Motorcycle versus MegaSUV eh? So a road tax based on distance traveled by class of vehicle makes more sense than fuel consumed IF you want to use the tax to maintain the roads.

    Not that I'm in favor of a real GPS added to any of my vehicles! I'd be okay with "them" adding something that only calculates distance traveled and simply can't track or report any other info (where, when, how fast), but everyone knows you can't trust "them".

     

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  8.  
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    Chris in Utah (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:07pm

    Re: electric cars

    Electricity isn't muciniple tax? Hah... $

     

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  9.  
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    Matthew Cruse (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:09pm

    Re:

    No, but there should be. True story: I lived in Hawaii for a number of years, and through ignorance filed my income tax with my wife's (I was exempt due to being military with out of state residency.) Anyway, I got a letter saying that I needed to declare my federal income tax refund as income as well as any state income tax refund. The balls of that state, the money that I had loaned the federal government interest free (which I consider to be theft, but that's not part of this discussion) was considered as income not the return of money that was mine to begin with. Sorry for the rant, but 15 years later it still pisses me off that that bunch of crooks made blatant money grab.

     

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  10.  
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    Matthew Cruse (profile), Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:19pm

    Re: oops

    No matter the fuel source or efficiency, wear and tear on a road is related more to the size of the vehicle than the distance it travels. Motorcycle versus MegaSUV eh? So a road tax based on distance traveled by class of vehicle makes more sense than fuel consumed IF you want to use the tax to maintain the roads.

    A fuel tax does the same thing. A truck gets 25 MPG. therefore every 25 miles it travels it pays 50 cents in taxes. A motorcycle burns 50 MPG therefore it pays half the taxes. Not perfectly equitable, but close. Also, Interstate truckers pay special fees based on vehicle weight and load weight, and these fees are supposed to go to the upkeep of roads, the problem is that these funds get raided every time the state needs extra money, like a lot of other special funds.

     

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    avi, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:33pm

    GPS based tax assessment

    though the privacy and tracking aspects of GPS-based taxation are truly troubling, one aspect that is different in the Netherlands case is not simply one of revenue, but to charge people for using more popular or traffic-congested roads.

    The only way to do this is to ether have toll booths installed (photo of plates would then ensue, not as big a privacy concern, but some), or to track vehicle location.

     

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    mgoodfel, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 10:50pm

    fine-grained taxes

    This allows them to tax based on driving through cities (like the London tax), driving political incorrect vehicles like SUVs, or driving over a politically-decided amount of miles.

    It also allows them to favor classes of vehicles, like government vehicles, disabled drivers, motorcycles, etc.

    You can't do all this fine-tuned nannying with a simple gas tax.

     

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    I_Like_it, Nov 18th, 2009 @ 11:46pm

    Re: Good Idea

    Why not just raise the tax on gas. This is basically the same thing. You could also give a tax incentive to folks that live within 5 miles or so of work. This would help to stop the 2 hour communte for a cheap house while destroying lives and roads.

     

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    Daemon_ZOGG (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 12:35am

    Netherlands The Latest To Propose Mileage Tax That Requires GPS For Tracking Driving

    Hmmm, "Mileage Tax".. GPS.. Is that what big-brother is calling "Citizen Tracking Devices" now? ;(

    Live Free Or Die Trying. ;)

     

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    Chargone (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 12:56am

    ya know, here in New Zealand, trucks and such are taxed based on how far they go. no privacy invasion at all, just a periodic official check on the meter (presumably when they get their warrant of fitness, aka road worthiness check, or some such). which is physically attached to a (drive, i think?) wheel [or axle, I'm not sure] and counts rotations. rotations on the wheel translating directly, as they do, into distance covered.

    every diesel powered car also has this. unless they changed it since i last looked or remember.

    meanwhile, there's no tax on the diesel. [well, aside from the basic GST, which is a consumer/sales tax.]

    petrol, on the other hand, is taxed. or was it that there's a levy on it? [which is exactly the same thing, but specifies what it is to be used for and looks slightly less dodgy when they then charge you GST on what is effectively the Petrol Tax.

     

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  16.  
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    JeroenW, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 3:25am

    The whole idea behind this scheme is to make driving certain roads at a certain time more expensive. That way they want to reduce the crippling trafic jams during rush hour. Most major roads in the west part of the country come to a near standstill between 0700 and 0830 and between 1645 and 1800. The idea is to encourage people to travel at different times and/or by different means.

    Of course the government could also eliminate the tax on house sales thereby making it more attractive to move closer to where you work.

     

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  17.  
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    John Doe, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 4:11am

    Re:

    Surely you jest? The whole idea is MONEY. You know, good old fashioned $$$. They traffic jams, road wear, blah, blah, blah is just cover store for a MONEY grab.

     

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  18.  
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    mkam, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 5:51am

    Re:

    Like the odometer that is already in every car in the world??

     

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  19.  
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    jsl4980 (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    Re:

    Yeah if there were just an easy to use meter that could determine how many miles the car has been driven... We could name it something fancy like from the greek word "hodos", meaning "path", and call it a odo-meter, oh wait I'll call my new invention an odometer!

    No, that is too complicated, we should add an expensive GPS unit that tracks every place you've been, not just the miles you've traveled.

     

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  20.  
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    Jacob, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Maybe TomTom just has really good lobbyists. 2.7 million cars times $100 for a GPS unit would be a good chunk of change.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 8:40am

    so now if someone steals my car, I gotta pay for their getaway?

     

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  22.  
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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 8:53am

    Re: Re: electric cars

    What if the tax for roadway maintenance is different than the tax for general electric usage? How do you separate them when it all comes out of the same electrical spigot?
    .
    The best solution is still the odometer. It accurately measures the distance traveled by the vehicle. That is the burden the vehicle placed on the roadways and what any tax on it's 'usage' should be based on. Variability by vehicle type is reasonable to account for different vehicle sizes.
    .
    The use of 'fuel' to determine the 'cost' means that a tractor trailer powered by my own solar panels at home would pay zero tax while having a large impact on the roadway. Tax the usage not the 'efficiency' of the vehicle.

     

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  23.  
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    Pangolin (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:03am

    But wait...

    Gas tax is unfair because when I drive my truck I pay more tax than when I drive my car.

    If you use GPS then I'll be taxed fairly. I'll get to pay an equally high tax on each vehicle.

    That's not really an incentive to buy an economical "green" vehicle.

    The problem is really that tax revenues from fuel sales are perceived to go down when more hybrids and fully electric cars (no tax there!) are driven.

    I think this is coming whether we like it or not as we transition to differently powered vehicles.

    They could just use the odometer. Sure it can be "spoofed" but don't you bet the GPS can be jammed? Also it doesn't really work well in all cases so is unreliable. Just have some radio reporting of self reporting of the odometer.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:04am

    Re: Re:

    Oregon's argument (I am a citizen of Oregon and I object to this plan in the strongest possible terms) is that the odometer is insufficient because it can't tell which of those miles are driven in-state (and are thus taxable) and which aren't.

    They want to stop the gas tax because they anticipate more vehicle that don't use gas, or not as much of it. That's actually a good point -- electric vehicles still wear on the roads, and road repair still has to be paid for.

    Personally, I'd prefer that they increase vehicle registration fees instead of spying on us. Or alter the "gas tax" to be a "transportation energy tax" and tax electric charging stations, charging equipment, vehicle batteries, or some combination of the those.

     

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    pixelpusher220 (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:32am

    Re: Re: oops

    What if I produce my own fuel? i.e. solar panels As we move towards electric vehicles this will become much more prevalent and the 'tax' will dry up more than it is already.

    Tax based on the usage of the vehicle and the impact it has (size).

     

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  26.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Re: But wait...

    "Gas tax is unfair because when I drive my truck I pay more tax than when I drive my car."

    Actually, I think this is fair. Gas taxes are supposed to fund road maintenance. Heavy vehicles such as trucks cause more damage to the road than lighter vehicles such as cars, and so cost the public more money. It seems fair that they should pay more towards that cost.

     

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  27.  
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    Beta, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 11:17am

    Pangolin: "Gas tax is unfair because when I drive my truck I pay more tax than when I drive my car. If you use GPS then I'll be taxed fairly. I'll get to pay an equally high tax on each vehicle."

    Whenever "tax" and "fair" appear in the same sentence I know I should stop reading, but I just can't. The only way your argument makes sense is if your vehicles have a god-given right to incur the same amount of tax. They don't.

     

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  28.  
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    Kazi, Nov 19th, 2009 @ 11:27am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Would they fine out of staters not using the GPS to pay taxes? (i.e. tax evasion)

     

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  29.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 19th, 2009 @ 2:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, out-of-staters are not included in the scheme.

     

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  30.  
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    Chargone (profile), Nov 20th, 2009 @ 12:27am

    Re:

    or, you know, if it's a joke. 'equally high' is an odd sort of wording that implies such to be likely.

    read it again keeping that in mind. [or not, given that this is now an old post :D]

     

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