House bill calls for federal tax on mileage

| Monday, August 03, 2009

A bill up for consideration in the U.S. House seeks to change the way highway users are taxed to fund transportation.

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-OR, introduced a bill that would establish a federal pilot program to study vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, as a possible supplement to or possible replacement for the current per-gallon fuel tax. The bill, HR3311, does not specify what would happen to the fuel tax if a VMT program were established.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association believes that although a VMT tax has captured the imagination of some, it remains unproven, even as states like Blumenauer’s home state of Oregon continue to study it.

“The current system of levying federal taxes on trucks is as discriminatory as it can be to small business, and harmful, but there are lots of unanswered questions with a VMT. And those questions need to be resolved before we start launching down that path,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.

Blumenauer is calling for the establishment of working groups to study technology – possibly a GPS system – and other factors that would go along with a federal VMT program.

Blumenauer said roads and bridges need a boost, and VMT is one way to get cash flowing into the Highway Trust Fund.

“America’s infrastructure needs critical investments now, and with the Highway Trust Fund flirting with a dangerous deficit, we need innovative solutions that will create a steady source of revenue,” Blumenauer said in a statement.

Blumenauer first floated the idea April 29 during a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He followed through with the introduction of HR3311 on July 23. The bill currently resides in the House Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Click here and enter the bill number to learn more about the legislation.

– By David Tanner, staff writer
david_tanner@landlinemag.com

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