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State Ponders Replacing Gas Tax With Tolls or a Per Mile Tax

Washington state looking at vehicle milage taxes
(Photo by William Thomas Cain/Getty Images)

A vehicle mileage tax could be coming to Washington state! Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond told KIRO Radio this week she is taking a hard look at a tax charging you by the mile as you drive.

Called a “road usage charge,” it could eliminate the state gas tax completely. State officials say it could supply revenue that has been drying up over the last few years. The Washington State Road Usage Charge Assessment Steering Committee has issued a report claiming such a tax would be a feasible way to wean the state off gas taxes.

According to the report, other ways to raise revenue without a gas tax include:

  • Toll roads.
  • Congestion fees assessed during hours of heavy traffic.

Texas, one state where this is being implemented, has the North Texas Tollway Authority.  This would differ from the toll roads on the East Coast confined to major expressways because the mileage taxes can be more widespread.

Two big hurdles to implementation are 1) feasibility 2) How would you enforce it?  Secretary Hammond says numerous technologies utilizing GPS allow for such tolls — apparently two European nations use it.

However, the government monitory driving patterns with GPS is bound to stir controversy. The Washington State Department of Transportation plans to spend $3.5 million funding the study.

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