Controversial New Program Will Track Your Driving — For Tax Purposes

carpool-laneAs state drivers’ changing habits undermined roughly a hundred years of gasoline taxes, California officials debuted a controversial new pilot program designed to make up the difference.

“The state of California is looking for 5,000 volunteers this summer for an experiment with potentially major pocketbook ramifications,” the Sacramento Bee noted. The so-called California Road Charge pilot program, proposed by the state Legislature, has tasked “Caltrans and other transportation officials to set up a nine-month test to see what it would be like if drivers paid for state road repairs based on how many miles they drive in their cars or trucks rather than how many gallons they buy at the pump.”

Aiming for a July start and a nine-month run, the program “already has a list of 4,300 people who are game,” according to Next City. “Participants will continue to pay the pump tax, but receive simulated monthly statements detailing how much they would pay under a road usage system.”

Losing gas

With gas prices, gas taxes and gasoline usage all sinking, lawmakers have labored to settle on a different way to collect revenue from road usage. “In California, drivers now pay 30 cents per gallon, plus 18 cents a gallon in federal tax,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

“Not only are politicians averse to raising the tax — which hasn’t been bumped up since 1994, with polls showing extreme distaste from voters — but also the continuing rise in fuel efficiency and the boom in electric vehicles ensure the steady evaporation of revenues even as more cars roll up more miles on the road. Gas taxes are expected to bring in $4.5 billion this fiscal year, 16 percent less than last year and 21 percent less than in 2014. Projections call for revenues to drop another 6.5 percent in the coming year.”

Just last month, regulators signaled the shifts to come by throwing their weight behind a further drop in the gas tax. “California drivers will pay 2.2 cents less per gallon of gasoline, starting in July, after a divided Board of Equalization voted to cut the excise tax,” according to U-T San Diego.

“‘Lowering the rate is the right thing to do and I’m sure Californians will welcome this reduction,’ board vice chair George Runner said in a statement after the agency voted 3-2 to pass the reduction that was recommended by BOE staff.”

Making the transition

From a regulatory standpoint, moving toward a per-mile tax would offer an additional advantage — a relatively smooth and seamless transition from a logistical and bureaucratic standpoint. Of the four vendors recruited to track mileage in the new pilot program, three “are already providing bonus services to fleet managers based on vehicle data,” according to Techwire.net.

“Azuga currently offers fleets a device they plug straight into a vehicle’s OBDII computer — a standard component in all vehicles made after 1996. Aside from automatically reporting mileage back to fleet managers, the computer is what alerts drivers to specific problems in the engine and can also offer information about what’s going on under the hood,” the site noted. “Two of the other companies signed up to track the mileage of participants in California’s test program, Intelligent Mechatronic Systems and EROAD, offer similar services. The fourth vendor, Arvato Mobility Solutions, will manage the accounts.”

Although privacy advocates have expressed skittishness and dismay, many Californians have grown accustomed to their driving habits being monitored electronically. California Road Charge will offer “the option to allow the state to monitor their in-vehicle computer, tracking where they go so they aren’t charged for the use of private or out-of-state roads,” Next City noted. “Recognizing that many will see this as an intrusion on their privacy, the state is testing other ways to collect this data, like periodic odometer reading verifications. California will also experiment with offering drivers weekly or monthly ‘all-you-can-drive’ passes.”

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Comments

  1. Maybe if they did not spend the gas tax money for things other than road maintenance or curtail caltran’s waste we would not be short of money to fix the roads

    • But….but….without the equestrian, bike, and walking trails, just think how congested out streets would be with all those extra people…..and then there’s the horse sh*t.

  2. Gotta Gedada Displace says

    Any word on whether this next totalitarian step will ALSO track out-of-state and cross-border (unrestricted) NAFTA commercial traffic entering Kalifornia (and what percentage of “fair” road use should THEY be “paying for” ?), or like MOST totalitarian overreach, is it only focused INWARD and DOWNWARD on “low-hanging fruit”?

  3. Randy Townsend says

    1) This is California – they could get 5,000 “volunteers” to test new methods of suicide; 2) When the brain trust in Sacramento pushed for everyone to buy a Jetson mobile, they understood these cars did not use gasoline and did not pay the gas tax. For them to now COMPLAIN that these cars do not pay the gas tax is the definition of stupid; 3) Why not simply charge the electric car owners the equivalent of a year’s gas tax?; 4) CA’s gas tax was, for years, the highest in the nation. Now that it isn’t, the pols complain about it? We get the government we deserve.

  4. California has been spending the gas tax on things other than infrastructure for decades, now they want more. We are so glad we got out of the socialist state of california and settled in the conservative state of Idaho. Gas is 1.79/gal, sales tax 6%, Max 7.3% income tax after a 22K exemption, and property tax rate is half of calif for a larger home.

  5. JLSeagull says

    Those of us that live in rural areas of northern, eastern and central Kalifornia will get screwed royal because of the longer distances we have to travel for medical appointments, major shopping opportunities, etc. Our nearest Walmart, Home Depot, Staples, etc are 55 miles away. Our nearest Costco, Target, etc. are 112 miles away. Our county seat, jury duty, county offices, etc. are 55 miles away. Of course the urban legislators will pass the legislation and our three assembly members and three senators for the 14 counties in Northern California will get rolled over in the voting. The State of Jefferson can’t come soon enough.

    • Skeptical says

      ” The State of Jefferson can’t come soon enough.”
      Say, isn’t that next to the golden city called El Dorado?
      Must be, because both are as likely to reach.

  6. Skeptical says

    “With gas prices, gas taxes and gasoline usage all sinking, lawmakers have labored to settle on a different way to collect revenue from road usage.”
    Get the impression that Sacramento assumes money that you think is your property, is actually theirs you are holding until they decide how to spend it?
    I SURE DO!

  7. California has been spending the gas tax on things other than infrastructure for decades, now they want more. We are so glad we got out of the socialist state of california and settled in the conservative state of Idaho. Gas is 1.79/gal, sales tax 6%, Max 7.3% income tax after a 22K exemption and social security is not taxed, property tax rate is half of calif for a larger home.

  8. Sounds like a great way to discourage electric vehicles and motorcycles….They want to spend money for a useless bullet train and want a way to gather more out of our pockets. So here’s the question, if I drive a motorcycle which does less damage on the road and uses less gas than most cars I will then be paying what a car pays and my savings would be mute, now that sounds really fair. California is so politically screwed up and if it were not for my wife I would join Bjust in Idaho. Who keeps electing the likes of Brown, Pelosi, Feinstein, Leno, Boxer and the list goes on, into office?

  9. CA has got to get it’s act together. We are becoming the laughing stock (fools) of the country. I believe Randy Townsend is correct. People here are so stupid… really stupid. and I’m tired of my Florida friends (who can’t vote a ballot) reminding me of this.

  10. If the ruling elite taxed us at 150% of what we earned, they’d still be angry at us for them not being able to steal even more from us.
    They truly do look at our earnings as theirs for the taking whenever
    it pleases them to do so.

  11. Gary Marquis says

    No gas tax increase.

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