Friday, February 1, 2013

Taxes, roads and the so called 'free ride'

The ether has been buzzing the last few weeks with proposed and implemented legislation regarding appropriately taxing alternative fuel vehicles.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I enjoy smooth roads. I appreciate the efforts of the road crews to clear the snow off the road at 0300 in the morning so I can get to the office at 0700. Yes, all this takes money and I am perfectly willing to pay for these services.

Having made that statement, let's delve a little deeper into the murky underworld that is government, reality, and a stab at human nature.

People seem to get upset when other people get a 'free ride' or 'something for nothing' even when they have the exact same opportunity to take advantage of the same solution. The fact that I am able to plug my electric car into a charging station at the county library and spend 60 minutes adding a charge to my car for free would make some to claim that I don't deserve to charge for free.

The democratically elected county government decided that it was worth spending government dollars on EV charging stations and for that I am grateful. I'm a tax paying citizen of the county. My taxes helped pay for the device and the price of the energy. My taxes also help pay for the health and human services division. I don't receive direct benefit from that but I still support it and think helping others is a good thing.

People might seem to think that I'm still getting a free ride. Well, I pay quite a bit more in personal property tax which goes to the county and the state simply because the sale price of my car was quite a bit higher than the cars I typically buy. In fact, the last new car I bought was $13,000. My Leaf sales tax and registration is based on the $38,000 price tag when I got the Leaf in June. Math $13,000 old car X 3 = $39,000. I would say the sticker price is a significant bump on the taxes. You know what, every person who would complain about my 'free fuel' has the same opportunity to trade in the smog producing mobile explosion that is the internal combustion engine and use an emission free electric vehicle.

In Missouri there is already a registration fee associated with all alternative fuel vehicles that don't use any gasoline. It says gasoline specifically in the fee. Plug in hybrids like the Ford C-Max Energi and Chevrolet Volt would be exempt from this fee even though it is possible and even likely that city driving with either of those vehicles would result in the driver using no gasoline and thereby pay no fuel taxes or help pay for road maintenance at all.

Some of the discussion to equalize the taxes centers around a tax per mile solution. This would require government monitoring and a very invasive one at that. Talk about a Big Brother solution. Additionally, even if you only use  public transit and don't directly pay a fuel tax, you still want the roads in good repair and the streets cleared. According to Missouri, the gas tax for an alternative fuel vehicle is approximately $70/year.

Here's the simple solution. Set a registration fee of $70/year (or appropriate amount based on need) for ALL class C vehicles. Wow, simple, elegant and it would also cut down on a portion of government spending that must collect and monitor the taxes paid by the filling stations so the actual dollar paid will go further because there would be a reduction in government spending on the current solution. This would also mean that the government would still maintain a steady flow of income as vehicles register over the course of the year.

Don't limit the adoption of fuel efficient, alternative fuel, battery vehicles by strange and unusual fees. Encourage adoption with incentives and equality.

Environmental plug - we hold this Earth in trust for our children and our children's children. Let's try to leave it in a better place than we found it.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

1 comment:

  1. I recently had a discussion about freebies as well and an older couple brought up the point that a large chunk of the taxes paid on their house went to support the school system and they felt that they didnt use the schools so they should not have to support them.

    I advised them that they did use the schools because successful schools educate children. Schools that dont educate will create a restless child. one who will degrade the neighborhood with vandalism, drugs or other gang activity which will in turn lower the value of housing in the neighborhood.

    After my spiel, I could tell I hit on something. Not wanting to admit they were wrong, they simply walked off...