As gas prices surge, more drivers are looking at the electric vehicle market. Sometimes that makes economic sense, but depending on the vehicle, going electric doesn't necessarily pay for itself.
One thing electric vehicle owners haven't had to worry about is paying for gas taxes. As we've shown, gas taxes can make up anywhere from 30 cents per gallon to as high as nearly 80 cents per gallon. And that doesn't account for other carbon taxes and low carbon fuel standards that states like Washington have adopted.
States and the federal government typically use gas taxes to pay for roads, bridges, highways and other transportation needs. But what happens when more Americans switch over to electric vehicles - who will pay then?
Not to worry, government always seems to have a taxing solution.
Transportation activists are telling the federal and state governments to adopt vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or, put simply, mileage taxes. In other words, you would be charged a certain amount for every mile that you drive. Some state proposals have the mileage tax at nearly three cents per mile. For the average person driving a vehicle 12,000 miles per year, that totals nearly $360.
In addition to the cost, there are many unanswered questions regarding a mileage tax, including:
Would drivers be charged both gas taxes and mileage taxes?
Would mileage taxes be required to be used on transportation projects?
How would the government track a driver's mileage?
How does the government avoid privacy concerns?
Do mileage taxes unfairly punish those in rural communities?
But without a GPS or other form of tracking device to determine where you are driving, mileage reporting becomes a paperwork issue. If you live in a border community or take a long summer roadtrip, you could end up paying a tax to one state while driving on another state's roads.
Generally speaking, user fees are a solid and fair approach to transportation funding. However, a state or national mileage tax just has too many unanswered questions to be ready for implementation.