Monday, June 10, 2013

I Warned You About This A Year And A Half Ago

Not that I'm one to say I Told You So--oh heck, of course I am!
North Carolina is joining a growing number of states exploring new fees for hybrid and electric car owners to help make up for revenue those drivers aren't paying in gas taxes on their fuel-efficient vehicles.

The proposal strikes many owners of alternative-fuel vehicles and some advocacy groups as a wrong-headed approach to balancing priorities of promoting U.S. energy independence with sustainable infrastructure funding. But policymakers and some experts argue taxing hybrid and electric vehicle owners is a matter of making sure all drivers help maintain the roads they use and construct new ones.  link
The logic is infallible, of course.  Gas usage used to be a proxy for how much you drove, and it seemed reasonable to tax it to pay for roads.  Now that some people are getting around gas usage but are still using the roads, lawmakers are coming up with better, more intrusive ways of generating road money.

Earlier post on the topic here, with a warning about water conservation here and at the link in the previous paragraph.


maxutils said...

Jeez. As I've argued many times before ... eliminate every single tax or government fee except for the one thing you can't avoid: income. Structure that however you like, be it flat, flat with deductions, progressive, progressive with deductions ... whatever. And be done with it. It will look really high, in order to cover what we're paying for government services, but that's a good thing to know: nickle-and-diming it like this disguises what we really pay, makes us more prone to enact new programs we either don't need or can't afford, and reduces inefficiency in terms of not having to keep records and pay for the collection of sales tax, property tax, bridge tolls and everything else ... we could probably save ten cents on the dollar just in efficiency.

Soquel by the Creek said...

It's interesting how government works.

Government wants to tax hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles more to make up for lost gas and diesel tax revenue.

Meanwhile, that same government provides expensive subsidies and incentives to encourage adoption of hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles.

This seemingly insane policy isn't out of the ordinary. In California, the state collects taxes on tobacco to fund education programs aimed at reducing smoking. At the same time, the state allows EBT welfare card users to buy cigarettes using taxpayer-provided money.

Anonymous said...

In California, we have to get our cars smog checked every two years (as part of the auto registration process). Part of this check is the folks taking down the car's mileage.

If the only thing we cared about was accurately charging for use of the roads, then it wouldn't be too difficult to have part of auto registration in these other states include a mileage check. And a tax based on that could then be built into the registration fees.

This seems like a pretty obvious way to charge for what you care about rather than charging for a proxy of the thing you care about. Yet I haven't heard of any proposals to do this.

Any idea(s) why not?

-Mark Roulo

Anonymous said...

"...eliminate every single tax or government fee except for the one thing you can't avoid: income"

I sympathize with the sentiment, but I'm not so sure about the implementation.

For folks with W2 income and/or dividend/interest and nothing else, this probably works fine.

But for folks who work for cash (or *could* work for cash) ... not so much.

The one tax that truly can't be ducked is a head tax. Which economists love for its theoretical efficiency, but understand that it has lots of other problems. A land/property tax is probably next best ... again, because it is difficult to hide land. But land/property taxes are not without their own problems (tax everything uniformly? or by appraisal? or what).

A single tax to pay for *EVERYTHING* also has the disadvantage/advantage that getting things like BART (or the Golden Gate Bridge) approved will be more difficult [because it will cost even *more* for the people who won't be using it...].

I like your proposal (and *really* would like it if we had a much simpler tax formula so that we could free up the 100s of thousands of accountants who navigate the tax code to do useful work), but I don't expect that it will be quite as across-the-board good as it might.

-Mark Roulo

KauaiMark said...

I see a bicycle usage tax in the future

Anonymous said...

Hi Darren,

Was just curious what you thought about these new details released by Snowden?


Darren said...

I haven't heard what else has been released. Does it have to do with gas taxes, et. al.?

Anonymous said...

Oh no I meant the whole PRISM situation. What're your thoughts? Expected to see a blog post on it from you but I didn't!

Darren said...

I don't know enough about it yet to have formed a solid opinion, which is why I haven't written about it yet.