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What Are VMT Fees

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Oregon Moving Ahead With New Vehicle Tax

For decades the government has stressed the importance of the United States reducing foreign oil dependency while at the same calling upon the automotive industry to develop cars that could receive more miles per gallon (MPG) The creation of more fuel-efficient vehicles may have been a slow process, but today their are more hybrid automobiles and cars that can get 20+ MPGs on the road today than ever before. All of the new hybrid and gas-friendly automotive machines have been helpful on the environment and the wallet of motorists. However, the eco-friendly vehicles also result in less revenue from gas taxes causing states such as Oregon to push ahead in legislation to tax drivers according to the amount of roadway use through what is being called Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) fee.

States such as Oregon are keenly aware that fuel-efficient automobiles are impacting revenue designed for road maintenance and feel a VMT fee would even out the playing field so to speak. In theory, the VMT fees would replace the road taxes motorists pay at the gas station, and instead monitor the mileage driven by each motorist to determine the appropriate fee per driver. However, monitoring the mileage driven per motorist is where it gets quite tricky because of the concern of privacy advocates have over one of the methods discussed in that mileage summation: GPS tracking devices.

Oregon has listened to their constituents over concern that the government could use data obtained through the use of GPS vehicle tracking devices for spying and believes it may have found a solution. What is being suggested is giving Oregon motorists the choice between five different mileage reporting options to acquire VMT fees.

Obviously, the state must have some accurate method of calculating mileage driven by motorists and most importantly have those motorists tell the state what those miles driven are. By giving Oregon motorists multiple options ranging from a device that reads the odometer of a automobile to GPS trackers that monitor the exact movements of vehicles, the state feels as though it can find a fair balance for everyone. Including those concerned with their privacy. The more advanced methods of tracking that use GPS would save motorists more money in VMT taxes than those using a less transparent form of mileage accounting, but those who opt for a less evasive form of monitoring would have more privacy. In fact, one option discussed that involves no GPS tracker device at all makes a monthly assumption on miles driven and taxes according to that pre-calculated flat fee.

The more advanced monitoring systems using GPS would be trackers that connect to the On Board Diagnostic (OBD) port of the vehicle. During beta testing of the new VMT system, participants were able to select the monitoring option that suited their personal privacy comfort level and paid roughly 1.56 cents for mile driven. Lawmakers in Oregon intend on moving forward with VMT fees by bringing legislation to the table later in 2013. Advocates for VMT fees proclaim that the current transportation system is out-dated and needs to be revised using the tools provided through technological advancement. They point to a rising population and dwindling revenue as evidence that the transportation system motorists need and demand can only be achieved through a program that taxes drivers more appropriately. Are you concerned that the implementation of VMT fees create the potential mandatory use of GPS trackers and possible subsequent dilution of privacy rights among Oregon motorists? Source: Oregon News

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