Slipped into Senate infrastructure bill: Mileage tax pilot program

by WorldTribune Staff, August 5, 2021

Well, what do you know? A test program to create a system for taxing drivers based on their vehicle mileage turned up in the Senate’s infrastructure legislation.

The Senate legislation suggests ways of tracking mileage, including through smart phone apps and third-party on-board diagnostic devices.

The program, entitled “National motor vehicle per-mile user fee pilot”, would target “passenger motor vehicles, light trucks, and medium- and heavy-duty trucks” and suggest fees that “may vary between vehicle types and weight classes to reflect estimated impacts on infrastructure, safety, congestion, the environment, or other related social impacts.”

The program recommends seeking volunteers in all 50 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico to test various ways of tracking mileage, including through smart phone apps, third-party on-board diagnostic devices and “any other method” that Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg considers appropriate.

During his confirmation hearings earlier this year, Buttigieg had floated the creation of such a tax as a way to fund an infrastructure bill.

The current draft legislation in the Senate would require Buttigieg and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to provide recommendations to Congress within three years after enactment of the bill, allowing lawmakers to decide then whether to impose a national per-mile tax.

“The Secretary, in coordination with the Secretary of the Treasury, and consistent with the recommendations of the advisory board, shall establish a pilot program to demonstrate a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee to restore and maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund and to improve and maintain the surface transportation system,” the bill states.

“The objectives of the pilot program are to test the design, acceptance, implementation, and financial sustainability of a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee, to address the need for additional revenue for surface transportation infrastructure and a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee; and to provide recommendations relating to the adoption and implementation of a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee.”

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