WHITE CITY, Ore. – A pilot program is testing an alternative to paying gas tax, for those driving cars that don’t use much gas. The goal behind the plan is to replace the gas tax dollars being lost as more drivers switch to fuel-efficient vehicles.
The way the system works now is drivers fill up, paying a 30-cent tax for each gallon that goes into their tank. The Oregon Department Of Transportation said the problem is with more electric and fuel efficient vehicles, there are fewer people fueling up, which means fewer tax dollars to fuel road projects.
O-DOT is running a pilot program right now to tax miles instead of gallons of gas. In a Rogue Valley Area Commission On Transportation meeting, O-DOT explained the mileage tax would only apply to those with vehicles getting 55 miles or more per gallon, but some at the meeting are worried that tax will be seen as a penalty for “green” drivers. Others are worried about the government tracking their miles driven.
O-DOT said that’s why it would give drivers with ultra-fuel efficient cars a choice in how to report those miles either by manual reporting, with a metering device, like a smart phone or GPS, or you could pay a high flat rate for unlimited miles.
The pilot program runs through January of next year. Currently, those involved in the pilot program are paying a penny and a half per mile. O-DOT will take the results of the pilot program to the state legislature in February, who will consider the mileage tax for Oregon.