US National Mileage Tax, Coming to a Theater Near You

A Peek into the New Infrastructure Bill

The Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the ~$1 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act on November 5, 2021. It is now on its way to President Biden’s desk for signature into law.

Strangely enough, Republicans see the passage of this massive package as a win, with the thinking that the much broader Build Back Better program will now see significant cuts since the infrastructure bill is no longer coupled with it. This just goes to show how useless Republicans are at curtailing the ever-increasing spending madness of Congress and growth of the State.

This new infrastructure bill is a whopping 2,740 pages long.  You can read it all here.  Assuming you don’t have some semblance of a life, or you have a team of lawyers at your disposal, you just might finish reading it all before next year.

So to help save you from the chore of sifting through the bill, I figured I’d pick a random section of it and dissect it for you. This exercise of picking a random item in the bill just might become a repeating exercise here at Monetary Current — to keep things “fun.”

So let’s see what the US government has in store for its serfs. On page 510 of the bill we can see that the government is prepping the American people for a national mileage tax.

SEC. 13002. NATIONAL MOTOR VEHICLE PER-MILE USER FEE PILOT

Under the section titled, “Research, Technology, and Education,” we find the establishment of a pilot program to study the potential for a national mileage tax used to “improve and maintain the surface transportation system.

(b) ESTABLISHMENT.— (1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary [of Transportation] … shall establish a pilot program to demonstrate a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee—

  • (A) to restore and maintain the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund; and

  • (B) to improve and maintain the surface transportation system.

You see, the ~$1 trillion infrastructure bill itself is not sufficient to improve and maintain the roadways.  Apparently, the bill is needed to tax Americans to perform research on implementing yet another means of taxing Americans — the mileage tax.

Methods of Collection

Now let’s see how they think they could actually collect this tax.

(d) METHODS. —The Secretary shall determine which [of the following] collection tools … are selected for the pilot program:

  • (A) Third-party on-board diagnostic (OBD14 II) devices.

  • (B) Smart phone applications.

  • (C) Telemetric data collected by automakers.

  • (D) Motor vehicle data obtained by car insurance companies.

  • (E) Data from the States that received a grant under section 6020 of the FAST Act (23 U.S.C. 503 note; Public Law 114–94) … .

  • (F) Motor vehicle data obtained from fueling stations.

  • (G) Any other method that the Secretary considers appropriate.

There is an exponentially growing desire for data collection throughout the world in this day and age. Both private companies and governments attempt to grab a piece of your life with every opportunity. Every piece of data you relinquish is another way to track and control you. This bill would further feed the US government’s limitless appetite for spying on and controlling Americans.

The Tax Amount

Now on to the amount of the tax itself. The bill refers to this tax as a “fee” to make you feel like you’re actually paying for something specific — like roads and bridges. You see, all of the other taxes you already pay to fund roads and bridges, well silly you, that money is actually for other stuff.

(e) MOTOR VEHICLE PER-MILE USER FEES.—… the Secretary … shall establish, on an annual basis, per-mile user fees … which amount may vary between vehicle types and weight classes … .

(i) REVENUE COLLECTION.—The Secretary of the Treasury … shall establish a mechanism to collect motor vehicle per-mile user fees … which

  • (1) may be adjusted as needed to address technical challenges; and

  • (2) may allow independent and private third party vendors to collect the motor vehicle per-mile user fees and forward such fees to the Treasury.

So, we see that the “fee” will be arbitrarily established yearly depending on what you drive and it “may be adjusted as needed.” So you can bet your first-born that the tax will always go up over time. An educated guess would lead us to predict that the government — hellbent on going “green” — will tax electric vehicles more favorably (if taxed at all) than gasoline/diesel vehicles. This, of course, will help the electric vehicle industry compete in the market place, an industry that is already heavily subsidized by the government. So in essence, if (more likely, when) this pilot program turns real, you will be getting taxed at least twice to help enrich the politically-connected electric car manufacturers — once to subsidize them from the start and again every time you drive your fossil fuel guzzler.

It baffles me how people see going electric as going green. Has no one heard of a lithium mine?

Volunteers

It appears they will be paying volunteers to participate in this pilot program. Is this part of the government’s job-creation scheme perhaps? No doubt, there will be people willing to be tracked and traced in exchange for some greenbacks. How much will they be paid? Well, only the Secretaries of Treasury and Transportation will know that.

(f) VOLUNTEER PARTICIPANTS.—The Secretary … shall—

  • (A) ensure, to the extent practicable, that the greatest number of volunteer participants participate in the pilot program; and

  • (B) ensure that such volunteer participants represent geographically diverse regions of the United States, including from urban and rural areas …

(m) PAYMENT.—Not more than 60 days after the end of each calendar quarter in which a volunteer participant has participated in the pilot program, the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, shall estimate an amount of payment for each volunteer based on the vehicle miles submitted by the volunteer for the calendar quarter and issue such payment to such volunteer participant.

The Propaganda Campaign

The pilot program will establish an advisory board made up of all sorts of politically-connected individuals and groups. You’ll notice by the emphasized bold font below that the Secretary of Transportation has full discretion to pick whomever they want to be a part of this board.

The purpose of this advisory board will be twofold: (1) to provide recommendations for the implementation of the real-life taxing system; and (2) to run the propaganda campaign so the American people are adequately lubed-up and ready to receive the tax with minimal outcry.

(g) FEDERAL SYSTEM FUNDING ALTERNATIVE ADVISORY BOARD.— (1) IN GENERAL.—… the Secretary shall establish an advisory board, to be known as the ‘‘Federal System Funding Alternative Advisory Board’’, to assist with

  • (A) providing … recommendations …

  • (B) carrying out the public awareness campaign … .

(2) MEMBERSHIP.—The advisory board shall include, at a minimum, the following representatives and entities, to be appointed by the Secretary:

  • (A) State departments of transportation.

  • (B) Any public or nonprofit entity that led a surface transportation system funding alternatives pilot project … .

  • (C) Representatives of the trucking industry, including owner-operator independent drivers.

  • (D) Data security experts with expertise in personal privacy.

  • (E) Academic experts on surface transportation systems.

  • (F) Consumer advocates, including privacy experts.

  • (G) Advocacy groups focused on equity.

  • (H) Owners of motor vehicle fleets.

  • (I) Owners and operators of toll facilities.

  • (J) Tribal groups or representatives.

  • (K) Any other representatives or entities, as determined appropriate by the Secretary.

(h) PUBLIC AWARENESS CAMPAIGN.— (1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary, with guidance from the advisory board, may carry out a public awareness campaign to increase public awareness regarding a national motor vehicle per-mile user fee, including distributing information … .

Closing a Loophole

One part of this mileage tax program that is not readily apparent is the fact that they are closing the loophole on people or States claiming this tax to be a toll. You see, if you can demonstrate that the mileage tax is a toll, there is legal potential to exempt yourself (or your State).

There is a law — 23 U.S. Code § 301 Freedom from tolls — that prevents highways from being subject to tolls of all kinds. Of course, a law means nothing when the government can simply write another law to outlaw the previous law. The infrastructure bill states:

(k) LIMITATION.—Any revenue collected … shall not be considered a toll under section 301 of title 23, United States Code.

Taxation Equity

It wouldn’t be the year 2021 — the year of woke — without a sprinkle of the word “equity” into the legislation.

(c) PARAMETERS.—In carrying out the pilot program, the Secretary, … shall

  • (3) ensure an equitable geographic distribution by population among volunteer participants;

Of course, “equitable” is a loaded word.  In this context, it seems the government wants to include a diverse sample of the population to participate in the program.  Who knows what they really mean, but on the surface, this seems logical.  If you’re going to subject the nation to a new tax, well wouldn’t you want to see how the various subjects respond to it?  And once it’s time to implement this tax in real life, well, wouldn’t the government want to ensure the entire population is “equitably” prepped to receive the shaft, if you know what I’m saying?

And at the end of the program, the Secretary of Transportation owes a report to Congress. In that report, the equity impacts of this mileage tax needs to be assessed.

(n) REPORT TO CONGRESS.—… the Secretary … shall submit … a report that includes an analysis of— … (5) equity impacts of the pilot program, including the impacts of the pilot program on low-income commuters.

Any individual with a functioning brain can see that low-income commuters will be hurt most by this type of tax. As families struggle to put food on the table and gasoline in their cars in this inflationary environment, here comes ol’ Uncle Sam to kick them in the teeth.

Funding for the Program

The mileage tax pilot program will get a cool $10 mil every year for 5 years to demonstrate a working system, to prime the public for acceptance, and to work out all of the kinks prior to going full-bore.

(o) FUNDING.— (1) IN GENERAL.— … for each of fiscal years 2022 through 2026 $10,000,000 shall be used to carry out the pilot program … .

That’s a total of $50 million extracted from the US taxpayer just to prep that same taxpayer for further future tax extraction.

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