A Mileage Tax in Rhode Island?
A new mileage fee. The $150-million plan would not include it, but the $300-million plan would impose a half-cent-per-mile fee, raising an estimated $50 million per year. But officials said yesterday that they expect to eliminate the transfer of some sales tax revenue to the transportation system, proposed elsewhere in the report. Raising the mileage fee to 1 cent per mile would make up the difference.
At a half-cent per mile, driving 10,000 miles per year would cost $50 per vehicle. One cent would cost $100.
Also referred to as a VMT fee (for vehicle miles traveled), the mileage fee would be based on odometer readings reported by vehicle owners when they renew their registrations. The mileage could be verified during mandatory auto inspections, the study says. Robert A. Shawver, the DOT’s assistant director, said that although one state, Oregon, is pilot-testing a similar fee, Rhode Island’s would be the first of its kind in the country.
How much revenue will this really generate considering that most Rhode Islanders think a trip from Providence to South County (or vice versa) requires an overnight bag?
Seriously though, what about the miles traveled outside of the state? Why does Rhode Island have a right to tax people for miles not put on roads within RI borders–just because the car is registered in Rhode Island? Plus they’ll be getting you as you come and go (via the tolls also mentioned in the article). What if Massachusetts wants to tax their drivers? Are we going to have cross-border “VMT” pissing matches? GPS tracking devices are next.
I understand these are tough times and can see the point in toll booths on bridges, etc. (though I’m not sure how much money will be raised vs. cost, especially initially) to help defray transportation infrastructure expenses. And I assume (heh) that the new tax revenue will be specifically designated for transportation and not General Revenue. But this VMT thing isn’t the sort of “innovation” the state needs.