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USA: Ore. to consider per-mile tax for electric vehicle users

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon state officials are proposing an alternative tax for drivers who have bought efficient or electric vehicles that seldom or never stop at the gasoline pump, where government has traditionally collected money to build and fix roads.

But the auto-making industry calls the idea of mileage taxes another roadblock for its efficient vehicles, the Salem Statesman Journal reports.

In its upcoming session, the Oregon Legislature is expected to consider a bill to require drivers with a vehicle getting at least 55 miles per gallon of gasoline or its equivalent to pay a per-mile tax after 2015.

Because it raises taxes, such legislation would need approval by three-fifths votes in both the House and Senate.

The tax would be based on mileage reports that could be made in a variety of ways, such as via smartphone app or global positioning system technology. Drivers could also just pay a flat annual fee.

Lawmakers would have to decide on the rates. The proposed bill leaves that part blank.

Oregon transportation officials have been working for more than a decade to figure out how to pay for roads as cars get extra efficient with gasoline, or use batteries. Those developments upset the usual taxation scheme of charging taxes by the gallon at the gasoline pump, an approximate way of charging more for greater use of the roads.

“Everybody uses the road, and if some pay and some don’t, then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty of the Department of Transportation.

Other states, including Washington, have looked at per-mile charges. A Washington law that would charge electric car owners an annual fee goes into effect in February.

Opponents of the Oregon proposal say it will hurt a new industry.
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