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.

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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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