In December 2008, President Elect Barack Obama appointed conservative Ray Lahood as the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary. During an interview last month, Lahood mentioned a vehicle mileage tax replacing the current ten cents per gallon gas tax. The goal being, to generate revenue.
With the overall goal being to generate revenue, President Obama has declared that the vehicle mileage tax will not occur during his administration. The 21st Century Transportation Committee in North Carolina, however, has developed a sub-committee to explore the idea for the Tar Heel State. What is being proposed is for every mile a NC resident drives, they would pay one quarter of a cent to half a cent.
WCU Senior and fellow driver Chris Huffman says, “I drive 800 miles three times a year to get home and back to Cullowhee. I put 3000 to 4000 miles a month on my car for my job and I am a college student,” said Huffman. “I do not want to pay taxes at the end of the year for all the miles I drive. I favor paying for them at the pump.”
Environmentalists are concerned about the effect this would have on the environment. Car and truck drivers would not have to pay the tax on the gas they buy, but rather how many miles they drive. Therefore, there is no incentive for auto buyers to purchase more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly vehicles.
Annual state inspections, recordation of mileage on our taxes, and installation of a chip in our vehicles that allow the government to track our mileage will serve as various methods to track mileage if the proposal is made law.
Junior Environmental Health Science major Virginia Livengood says, “I feel that our government is trying to keep track of us and it is becoming excessive. I would be willing to pay a higher gas tax to maintain my privacy and anonymity.”
To speak out for or against the proposed vehicle mileage tax, contact Rep. Cole and Rep. Martin of the Appropriations Sub-Committee for Transportation or a local representative.