State considering ‘road usage charge’ to tax drivers by the mile

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OLYMPIA — How much is a mile worth to you?

The Washington State Transportation Commission is floating a new plan to chuck the gas tax and charge drivers by the mile. Commissioners are looking at several options including odometer readings all the way to smart phone apps that track how many miles you’ve traveled.

On Tuesday, the commission voted to recommend a road usage charge demonstration to occur over the next 3-4 years in up to five regions across the state. This recommendation needs to be approved by the Legislature during the 2015 session.

Some drivers think the state should leave the gas tax as is and come up with the projected shortfall somewhere else. But for those still stuck with an older, less efficient internal combustion engine, saving money on gas is hard to come by.

Data pix.

“We spend a lot of money on gas all the time and we’re always looking for the cheapest place to buy gas,” said David Crittenden.

Cece Liarenhart said she drives thousands of miles a month to get to work.

“The drive to the distribution center in Puyallup, so that’s an extra 20 miles round trip,” she said.

Even though prices are pretty low at one Tacoma station for now, Liarenhart opposes replacing the gas tax with a per mile tax.

“Try to find another way to not penalize people who have to drive for a living,” she said. “Or a lot of people are going to be losing their jobs.”

Electric cars are a double-edged sword. While they cut down on air pollution, drivers also don’t pay any gas tax. Commissioners said the trend means that sustainable revenue has to come from somewhere else. A per mile tax could range from 1 to 2 cents per mile, but some drivers in Tacoma think the state gets enough tax money as it is.

“Soon they’ll start charging us for walking down the street,” laughed Ferrero.

Before the plan goes into full swing drivers would test it out first, as early as 2016.

Again, it will be up to lawmakers to make the final decision.

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    • Alice Smith

      No, they’re not dumb. They’re like foxes figuring out how to raid the chicken coop. Or, more appropriately, mobsters trying to figure out how to extort every last penny from us. Krem news did a more in-depth article on this and what it would cost us, both in money and privacy. Get this, one of the ways they’re thinking about their extortion plan is to put GPS trackers on our vehicles. Sheesh, every tyrant in history would have given their right arm in order to pull this one off. On top of that, a friend pointed out to me in the article they’ve written: “”If the pay by mile system is approved, state drivers will get a credit for the gas tax, but it is unclear how that would be calculated at this time.”” Are they getting their ducks in order to prepare for a state income tax?

          • WilsonWilson

            Politicians were recalled in Colorado, it may be time in WA, the criminality has gone to far. We already paid for those roads, what about the other projects we paid for? remember the monorail? they fleeced the whole state for that and ran out of money? Next time you park in Seattle look at how many taxes they take from you.

            With the money we pay in taxes to live in WA we could be like Sweden

  • brian

    This is an invasion of privacy and should be considered illegal search and seizure. The state has no right to track and know how many miles anyone drives.

  • jeff

    This is outrages, WSDOT is digging a tunnel in Seattle, because some don’t want to ruin the view of the water, now the viaduct is sinking. How much is Bertha costing us, and now this, what won’t they tax so they can start more boondoggle projects? You know they wouldn’t use this money for its intended purpose it will go into someone’s self interested project.

  • Alice Smith

    I know I’m not alone is saying I would actively work towards seeing any legislator that supported this, knife in the back of the taxpayers legislation, lose their job. Only mobster criminals that we’ve got in office could have dreamed up this offense.

  • sarasmash

    Because they don’t already take 100 dollars out of each of my minimum wage pay checks every two weeks. I can’t even afford rent as is and I don’t even qualify for any assistance so this is just crazy. I agree with the person who laughed and said “soon they will charge us for walking down the street”. Having a car is a privilege and a blessing, but holy crap I pay so much in taxes already. The government is money hungry, living in huge houses and having tons of cars and nice clothes.

  • Lane Wilkins

    Another reason to leave state,the traffic is absolutely horrid,rain and no sun most of the winter,the people are anti social and cold,they arrest us for pot and now the state is selling pot,already the highest gas prices in the country and now putting a transponder in your car to track you!?!?!? this state is REALLY NOT THAT DESIRABLE ANYMORE!!!!!

  • Jesse

    im concerned as I drive 130 miles round trip a day (yes a glutton for punishment),.. i ditched the truck ( i miss it) and bought a car for better GPH and now on top of having a few extra bucks ill be asked to pay how much more depending on how much we drive per day/month/year,… where does it end?

  • Jim from Canada

    Trying to tax electric cars and the high fuel economy cars will prove impossible. Speedometers will be unhooked, so only the non-mechanical will pay. Living in an outlying area I am already penalized for having to drive to work when public transportation is unavailable or unsafe/unsanitary when available. Roads are set up wrong and are the cause of the slowdowns. Most drivers are cattle-like mentality and roads need to cater to the lowest IQ to be useful. As a senior, I am appalled at how much waste is going on with our tax dollars as it is. The roads are being paid for but the money is rerouted to other uses it was not intended for.

    The freeway on and off ramps are designed for no traffic conditions, which requires cars to intermingle and drivers to take their eyes off the road at high speed (which causes a slow down) to look to their left, right and behind at the same to avoid being hit or hitting someone else. I offered my design to former Mayor Paul Schell who thought it was brilliant but that he had no option on how the highways passed through Seattle. Requiring people to pay for the mistakes or possibly intended traffic problems of the highway designers to ensure job security.

    • Alice Smith

      Jim, You brought out an important point in your post about the roads are already paid for but the money is rerouted to other uses. From what I’ve seen and researched, this is a problem at every level of government and government agency. They routinely spend money on things the taxpayer would NOT approve of and neglect what they were suppose to pay for. Then, they come back to the taxpayer and dangle in front of us that they need more money to do what they were suppose to do in the first place with the money. They’re playing us for stupid and scamming us.

  • Dave

    They gotta pay for transportation infrastructure somehow. Why not tax based on vehicle weight? Heavier vehicles cause more wear & tear on the roads. That will also account for the electric vehicles. We should also license and tax bicycles. so as to accomodate them.

    • Alice Smith

      Dave, they’ve already been getting money for the roads. Just because they blow it on stupid projects doesn’t mean we need to pay for their dereliction of duty. What needs to be done is our government cleaned out of these mobsters intent on stealing everything from us. BTW, I think we’re already paying based on vehicle weight with our tabs.

  • vern wyatt

    when the government charges for every mile that will violate the constitution that grants the people free travel. Only those with lots of cash will be able to drive.

    • Spam and Rice

      Great point, sadly Washington ( Seattle in particular) is becoming a place where only the filthy rich and professional aide recipients can live. The rest us have to work more, to pay more and lose how many hours of your life sitting in traffic?

  • Spam and Rice

    I am in full agreement with a Recall this is not only double taxation ( double seizure of income) it is also a possible violation of the 4th Amendment. It is an intrusion on our privacy, we are being forced to have our milage tracked, analyzed and reported. Additionally, there will be more state employees hired to perform these tasks and buggy software developed. Immunity from consequences creates a culture of incompetence and complacency. So imagine how many ways your milage tax will be wrong and many more hours of your life that will be dedicated to waiting on hold.

  • Spam and Rice

    How many of us cannot afford to live in the city and have to commute already? So not only to we get to endure the purgatory of poorly planned and unmaintained infrastructure, now we get to pay twice for it. The last time I spent money for nothing I was getting robbed, this sounds very familiar.
    It is time for a recall, the very fact that this is being considered is reason enough. Regardless of your political leanings, this affects us all. Consider how many other taxes we pay, where does it all go?

  • Gary M

    It seems more logical to charge those who wear down our roads the most. Gas tax was meant for that but times change & so should the tax. Many things we pay for by use (like car rental miles) so a mileage tax is no different.

    • Alice Smith

      The only thing that’s changed over the years is the amount of corruption and fraud within government. What you’re advocating is the theft of the people in the state of WA. It’s a pretty lame excuse to dismiss it all with “times change”. My guess is that you in some way probably benefit from the theft.

    • Alice Smith

      Gary, I just thought about your comparison to car rental miles… the comparison is asinine and not even remotely related. With a car rental you are renting something which is based on the miles from a private party or business. (not government, big difference) At what point would you refer to a country that took all from their citizens and call it a tyranny? You’re also forgetting about the Constitutional violations that would be included in this abomination. Bottom line, the public servant has turned into nothing any different than a organized criminal when they go above what is authorized by the Constitution.

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