Tue, Feb 17th 2009 4:07pm
For several years, authorities in Oregon have been pursuing a plan to put GPS units in every car in the state to track and tax drivers' mileage. Now, Massachusetts wants to get in on the act, and replace its gas tax with a mileage-based tax (via Boing Boing) generated by GPS units in cars. The state wants to ditch its gas tax because rising fuel efficiency is leading to decreasing tax revenue, so the new plan would instead charge drivers a quarter of a cent for each mile they drive. The state's governor is talking not just about boosting tax revenue, but says he likes ideas that are "faster, cheaper, simpler." It's not clear how replacing the current gas tax by forcing drivers to install GPS trackers in their cars and building an infrastructure to gather data from them, then assess and collect a mileage tax will be fast, cheap or simple. This doesn't even mention the myriad privacy concerns of giving state employees access to records of Massachusetts drivers' activity. This idea continually pops up, whether as a tax idea or a new way to charge for auto insurance -- but it never seems to hold any more value beyond a soundbite.
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