GPS and Taxes

taxes_gpsIt seems that a new use for tracking with GPS comes out more and more frequently. What can’t this technology do? It’s saving wildlife, helping bust criminals, keeping employees honest, and now, helping municipalities calculate…taxes? Yes, you read that right. Taxes.

In Oregon, officials are trying to create a way to tax drivers. Why? The state wants to place a tax on mileage instead of on fule purchases. See a problem with this? You aren’t the only one!

It’s Happening Anyway

Regardless of how people feel about the program, officials are expecting it to begin in 2015. It is the result of a bill recently signed into law, and, for now, it will be implemented on a volunteer basis. But why is this new method of tax collection necessary? It all stems from the fact that people are driving less and less in order to save on the amount they are spending at the pump. While the amount of gas being sold is going down, highway repair and construction costs are rising.

Oregon’s ‘Highway Trust Fund’ has turned to the federal government to request a congressional bailout four times since 2009. The gas tax hasn’t gone up in the past 20 years, so with rising costs for road maintenance, there is a need to find an alternate source of funding. Enter the GPS tracker tax. Breathing a sigh of relief that you aren’t living in Oregon? There’s no doubt that other states will soon follow suit if the Oregon tax works out!

Instead of collecting a $.30 cents per gallon state tax, drivers will pay $1.5 cents for each mile they travel.

What About Privacy?

Civil libertarians and economists alike point to the fact these mileage GPS trackers will be monitoring vehicles at all times, recording every mile traveled. If trackers are simply connected to computers within a vehicle, life is good. If location data is stored regularly, that’s a different kind of problem – one that borders on privacy issues. For obvious reasons, many drives in Oregon are nervous about the amount of information that the government will soon have – and this may extend to other states.

Who Pays?

There’s another issue with the new Oregon driver tracking program: who’s going to cover the GPS tracking expenses? This dilemma hasn’t been worked out yet. It’s highly likely that the state will ask those participating in the program to purchase equipment – but, then, wouldn’t the tracking data belong to the person that owns the equipment? That’s a tricky situation!

The other option for the state is to simply purchase GPS tracking devices and hand these out to everyone that wants to participate in the program. But, can the state afford this much cost? It doesn’t seem likely, but that’s a problem that the state of Oregon is trying to work out.

Clearly, this program hasn’t been thought through completely. What are your thoughts? How would you feel about your state implementing such a program? What if this program becomes mandatory? Let us know what you think – and don’t forget to check out our own trackers while you’re here!

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