Gallery: Dutch Government Testing System That Taxes Drivers Based on Ca...

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The Netherlands is testing a new car use tax system that will tax drivers based upon the environmental impact of their driving rather than just taxing the vehicle itself. The trials utilize a little box outfitted with GPS, wireless internet, and a complex rating system that tracks a car’s environmental impact, its distance driven, its route, and what time it is driven as a fairer way to assess the impact of the vehicle and hopefully dissuade people from driving. The proposal will be introduced slowly as a replacement for the current car and gas tax, however it is most certainly controversial and will be a real test of how far environmentally savvy Dutch citizens will be willing to go to reduce the impact of the car.

The vehicle use tax has been talked about for decades, however this will be the first application of the system in The Netherlands and one of the first rollouts in the world. A little box mounted in the cabin will update drivers on the amount they are paying in taxes in real-time, giving them critical feedback on how to reduce the charge. Changing the time, the distance, and what they drive will have a dramatic impact on how they are taxed. The intent is to reduce congestion – which is projected to choke the country’s roads in the next decade – and to compensate for a projected loss in gasoline taxes as electric cars hit the streets. The system also takes into account CO2 emissions and air pollution.

The 25% tax on cars now will be replaced by a per-kilometer tax, which government studies indicate should actually reduce costs for 60% to 70% of drivers. Nonetheless, this tax is a clear form of social behavior modification that faces serious political hurdles — the greater benefits for society and individuals could be stymied by the fear of government intrusion and sticker shock.

Via New York Times

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  1. caeman August 12, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Meh, remove the CO2 part and replace it with vehicle weight. If the system ends up working for them, they will see a loss of tax income as people switch to electric. Which they will then have to raise taxes as the elephantine weight of electric cars damages the roads at the same pace as the SUVs of the past.

    Starting now with a weight/miles/time-of-day scheme will stop the future loss of tax income NOW and keep the system steady and predictable. Do not punish or benefit drivers based on CO2 with taxes, as that leads to loss of income for the government. Instead, simply pass vehicle regulations to phase our gas and diesel. Make everyone suffer equally.

    In addition to taking time-of-day into account, companies would have to be forced to alter their work schedules. The majority of the miles driven, I would bet, are work commutes. And if driving just 1 hour later makes your taxes cheaper, and the goal is to distribute traffic congestion more evenly — thus, removing it — then work schedules would have to change, as well.

    I hope the Netherlands is thinking this all out, including the extended ramifications. They are legion.

  2. lazyreader August 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Roads are roads are roads and paying for them is no small feat. Still charging people a user fee for roads is the means to pay for it. About 80-90 percent of Americas Interstate highway system was payed for out of user fees. Coming in the form of tolls on roads, gas taxes and tire taxes all of which are payed for by users willingly, on a pay-as-you-go system. As they used it more, the revenues collected increased to pay for it’s expansion. No huge sums of additional money was burrowed, the system operated on a feedback loop the more people used it the more they put into it, that’s why it took so long to finish the project.

    In general gas taxes are becoming an obsolete way to pay for our roads. Gas taxes were originated in Oregon in 1916 but by the 1950’s it became standard for nearly any highway. But over the years they’ve lost a lot of their original purchasing power. They work well when you have little traffic but they don’t work very well when you have congestion. That and the fact the feds always enjoy pilfering the highway trust fund to finance non road based schemes such as rail transit and we wonder why our roads are in sorry shape. Today of course tolls can be used to pay for our roads. It’s a cheap and largely automated process thanks to systems like EZ pass sensor strips that send you a bill or simply snapping a picture of your license plate instead of having to stop and put money in. Getting rid of the gas tax and replacing it with a Vehicle Miles Traveled tax as a way of making the public funding of roads and highways more efficient and based on user fees, not taxes and subsidies. Why should a person who drives a thousand miles a year pay as much as someone who drives 10 thousand miles a year where as they should pay more for putting more stress on the roads.

    I also look forward to the future of the driverless car, as long as America’s aging transportation bureaucracy gets out of the way. We’ll see drastic declines in traffic congestion and lateness when these vehicles are on the road. Once driverless cars are on the road this will be truly revolutionary. For one, regardless of age or physical impairment nearly anyone between the ages of 9 to 99 will be able to get a ride to go anywhere they need to go and they won’t need a license. We’ll be able to fit 3 or 4 times as many vehicles on the roads than before so we wont have to build additional lanes or highways. Most traffic congestion is a byproduct of rush hour trends; but throughout much of the day they’re seldom congested at all. 90 percent of the cars in America are parked throughout much of the day. Transit works on the collectivization of commuters and taking them from low density areas to high density areas and your running it all day long when it’s mainly used largely during rush hour. And as we’ve all learned about the miserable failures of socialism, collectivization lead to shortages, inefficiencies and overall poor productivity.

    About 90 percent of the technology needed to make self driving cars already exist. Systems like Lane Departure Warning, Information displays, adaptive cruise control, GPS, auditory aids to alert blind people, automatic parking, sensors, etc. The only two challenges left is software (dedicated operating system) and bureaucratic red tape which is ubiquitous in anything government. Interstate Highways only account for less than 2 percent of all our roads, but account for 25 percent of our traffic and miles driven. De-congesting those major highways will lead to big fuel savings and money savings, and the cost would be absorbed by the drivers (the ones responsible for making roads congested to begin with). We can focus more on our state highways after and avoid the huge public costs associated with building more freeway lanes or bolstering attempts to persuade people to take transit which is in truth more expensive and less practical. Why ask for transit when especially no to long from now, if we can push forward an agenda for driverless cars and user fee funded roads and private transit (buses, shuttles, jitneys, etc), conventional collective public transit will be rendered obsolete very soon that’s already financially obsolete anyway.

  3. msyin August 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    This could be a case for people to put their money where their convictions are. If 60-70% of people will actually save money with this new scheme then those who have a potentially higher bill will have to take a look at their actions and either change or resist because the stimulus is coming from a created outside force, ie govt. that they can then interpret as controlling their life. I think since the majority of people in the Netherlands have been so progressive in taking care of the environment they may see this as a step forward for the country as a whole since a cleaner greener Netherlands is of benefit to themselves as well as the planet.

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