Utah DOT discusses taxing by miles driven as gas-tax replacement

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Updated Sep 12, 2017

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The Utah Department of Transportation wants to start a pilot project to tax the amount of miles a motorist drives, as a possible replacement to the state’s gas tax, according to The Salt Lake City Tribune.

Several states, such as Oregon, have already begun such pilot programs. As cars become more fuel efficient and more electric cars come online, revenues from gas taxes will dwindle and not all drivers would be paying their fair share for road maintenance and construction.

UDOT Executive Director Carlos Braceras told the Utah legislature’s Transportation Governance and Funding Task Force that the department would be interested in testing out such a program with 100 volunteers possibly by 2018, The Tribune reported.

Oregon has been testing vehicle-miles-traveled fee programs with volunteers as concerns rise about the future of gas taxes. Volunteers can install a device in their car that tracks miles driven and fuel consumed. They are charged 1.5 cents per mile. They receive a monthly statement, which also gives credit for the gas taxes they paid. The driver pays the difference between the gas tax, which is 30 cents per gallon, and the mileage fee, or receives a refund, if the gas tax total was more than the total road fee.

Motorists shouldn’t expect such a wholesale change to a mileage tax anytime soon. Utah and other state officials say such fees would be more likely to come into larger play in 20 years or so.