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News Trying to use less gas? There's a tax for that.

  1. Aug 6, 2013 #1

    Borg

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    Sooo, I got my car tax bill from the state of Virginia Monday. The state legislature recently changed the tax code to tax all hybrid cars an additional $64 because they "don't use enough gas" that the state can tax. Similar bills are pending in other states as well.

    OK, they need more revenue. While I understand in principle what they're trying to accomplish, hybrid owners now pay more than any other vehicle type (assuming a normal average of 12,000 miles per year). To make things even dumber, the state also dropped the previous gas tax from 17.5 cents to 11.5 cents per gallon so that many non-hybrid cars now pay less than what the hybids were paying previously. A hybrid owner using 240 gallons of gas in a year, now pays more in taxes than a 15 MPG truck that uses 800 gallons.

    <End rant>
     

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  3. Aug 6, 2013 #2

    phyzguy

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    Whoa, this is crazy! The last thing we want to do is encourage fossil fuel consumption. Sounds like it's time to move out of Virginia!
     
  4. Aug 6, 2013 #3
    The tax supposedly goes for road maintenance. They need to charge the heavier vehicles more.

    http://www.vabike.org/vehicle-weight-and-road-damage/

    Since they can't get that kind of money out of the trucking industry they take it from the little guy.
     
  5. Aug 6, 2013 #4

    russ_watters

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    The only problem I see with the tax is that it is one size fits all: a Prius owner is penalized while a Volt owner makes out.
     
  6. Aug 6, 2013 #5

    phinds

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    You are expecting logic/reason/sanity from a legislative body? Really?
     
  7. Aug 6, 2013 #6

    russ_watters

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    They do charge heavier vehicles more.

    You claim trucks don't pay enough, but you didn't say how much they pay!
     
  8. Aug 6, 2013 #7
    Reminds be how my electric company raises rates when they don't make enough money when people conserve electricity.
     
  9. Aug 6, 2013 #8

    russ_watters

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    Er, well I'm not sure that's true, but electric companies are the only ones I know of who are required to pay their customers to use less of their product!
     
  10. Aug 6, 2013 #9

    Borg

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    No. Just ranting. Some legislators have said that they will try to repeal it but, I'm not holding my breath.

    I think that all of the tax bills for the year go out at the same time so I don't think that I'm the only one who will notice this week. Maybe if enough people get upset, they'll change their minds. I submitted a suggestion for a news story to a local TV station. I would love to see that get run.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  11. Aug 6, 2013 #10

    SteamKing

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    If you think this is bad, wait until the government starts taxing you by the miles you drive.
     
  12. Aug 6, 2013 #11
    And you didn't say how much more heavier trucks pay?? Pay for what? registration fees or fuel tax? As far as fuel tax heavy trucks pay the same per gallon as a Volkswagen TDI.

    And you apparently ignored this quote from the link I provided.

    http://www.vabike.org/vehicle-weight-and-road-damage/
     
  13. Aug 6, 2013 #12

    Borg

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    I was just referring to personal vehicles. Yes, 18 wheelers tear up the road significantly and are taxed higher for it.
     
  14. Aug 6, 2013 #13

    russ_watters

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    1. Your claim, your responsibility, and the flaw is pretty obvious, so if you want to claim they aren't taxed enough or equally to cars, you need to prove it:
    2. Trucks get lower fuel economy than a VW TDI. How much, I don't know, but clearly they use more fuel and therefore get taxed more for each mile: your road damage number is per mile, not per gallon or dollar.
    3. Trucks pay higher tolls than cars do, based on weight.
    I didn't ignore it, that's the number you need to normalize against cost. Stated succinctly, what I want to know (what you need to prove) is what that number drops to when corrected for how much more trucks pay than cars. For example, if a truck pays 100x what a car pays, then the damage is 9.6x what a car does per $$$ paid in road tax. Then we can discuss whether that number (whatever it is) is reasonable.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2013
  15. Aug 6, 2013 #14

    russ_watters

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    Right, so like I said, the issue is basically just a simplistic approach a complicated question. You happened - by dumb luck - to get the short end of the stick on that simplistic approach. But while I get the bellyaching, trying to set that aside and find a sensible approach to the problem will reveal just how inherently unsolvable it is:

    We could base the personal vehicle tax rates on vehicle weight and miles driven, requiring yearly inspections and tax paid at the time of the inspection. That would eliminate this issue and to me would be "fair". But not very many people, it would seem, share my concept of "fair":

    We've had a number of threads here where people have, for example, argued that the rich should pay the lions share of road taxes because even when a non-rich person is driving, the rich get most of the benefit of that driving. Not sure how we would calculate that. Eliminate road taxes and pay for roads just with income taxes maybe?

    Maybe road maintenance isn't the only thing at stake with road taxes. Maybe the government wants to tax for the purpose of behavioral modification. Then, taxing hybrid owners less for the same amount of driving would make sense.

    These alternatives are based on different opinions on the purpose and nature of both taxation in particular and government in general. They are not reconcilable.
     
  16. Aug 6, 2013 #15

    lisab

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    That's actually very reasonable, IMO - let the citizens who use it most pay more for it. But there is no good way to implement a per-mile tax. The best they can do is a gas tax, but they aren't taxing fuel directly - they're taxing road use indirectly.
     
  17. Aug 6, 2013 #16

    OmCheeto

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    I agree.

    btw, what's the ratio of hybrids to non-hybrids, at the moment?

    It's going on everywhere. We're all stuck here on "the Earth". Moving out of Virginia is the least of anyone's problem, IMHO.
     
  18. Aug 6, 2013 #17

    Simon Bridge

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    Taxes are, by nature, a pretty blunt instrument.

    In NZ that has applied to personal diesel vehicles but only by accident.
    The main trouble, besides general unpopularity meaning that the govt who impliments it gets voted out next election (and elections are every 3 years here), is just the number of people that would involve collecting the tax from.

    It is getting more feasable as technology improves though - we could put an automatic toll booth on every corner and the registered car owner gets a road-use bill in the mail. In future, vehicles may be required to upload their mileage, and whatever, to a central database after each trip. (There was an SF show recently in which "carbon credits" - ones quota of emmissions - had replaced the dollar as currency.)

    Note: if the road-user tax is at the pump, then don't hybrid owners already pay less of the tax in proportion to the miles they drive on electricity alone.
    The behaviour modification role of tax is well to be noted - in NZ part of the pump tax is an emmissions tax.

    But everyone who is reasonable agrees with me!
     
  19. Aug 6, 2013 #18

    russ_watters

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    Agreed, though for states like PA where you have an annual inspection, it could be done without too much trouble. Not all states have inspections though, and that doesn't differentiate between state and federal driving.
     
  20. Aug 6, 2013 #19
    I don't need to prove anything. The fuel tax is really the topic here. That is where the states get the money to build and repair roads. With the fuel tax rate for state purposes being determined by the individual states, what you want to discuss is futile.

    It is common knowledge that heavy trucks do more damage to the roads than they pay for in fuel taxes.

    Any quantification (what you want me to do) would change the next time any one of the states changed the fuel tax rate as was mentioned in the OP. I see you used the term inherently unsolvable.
     
  21. Aug 6, 2013 #20

    SteamKing

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    And of course, you will keep a detailed log of the miles you drive and be able to show it on demand to any and all who wish to see it. Or perhaps you wouldn't mind if your friendly govt. agency installed a device in your car which kept detailed records of your movements in the vehicle, so you won't lose any mileage logs or even have to worry about keeping them in the first place.

    And to think, people once got bent out of shape because the NSA or the FBI, or the IRS, or even the local cop shop might be tracking them!
     
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