Yes or No? A Tax on Gas or a Tax on Mileage?


Get ready to cast a “yes” or “no” vote.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Seattle, WA for a conference. I lived there for nearly a decade, so I spent a few extra days visiting old friends. In doing so, I travelled a considerable amount on everything from federal and state highways to county, city and subdivision roads. While there was some road and highway construction taking place, there was also a large amount of Puget Sound asphalt and concrete that needed repair or replacement; and there was crippling, grid-lock traffic. The one word I kept thinking over and over was infrastructure.

Add Grading & Excavation Contractor Weekly to  your newsletter preferences and keep up with the latest articles on grading and excavation: construction equipment, insurance, materials, safety, software, and trucks and trailers.    

Since that visit, I’ve been scanning the Seattle Times website occasionally, and I recently ran into an article titled, “Washington State to Test Pay-By-the-Mile as a Way to Fund Highways.” The article starts by reporting how the Washington State Department of Transportation expects gas-tax revenues to rise next year in comparison with the expected increase in construction costs. Gas-tax revenues should rise about 0.7 percent, with construction costs going up approximately 2.6 percent. They’re anticipating similar increases in the next few years.

So the proposed solution is to charge drivers a tax on the amount of miles they drive as opposed to the amount of gas they buy.

“Beginning early next year, the state will start a pilot project in which 2,000 volunteers pay a mock tax on the number of miles they drive on Washington state roads, rather than on the amount of gas they use.

Participants in the upcoming pilot study won’t be paying actual money yet, but the planned rate is 2.4 cents per mile, which equates to the current gas-tax rate for a car with average gas mileage.

They’ll have a variety of options to ‘pay’ the tax: By sending in pictures of their odometer or having it read at a Department of Licensing office, by using a smartphone app to track miles, or by plugging a mileage meter into their car.

The mileage meter comes in two options — one with GPS that ensures you’d be charged only for miles driven on Washington roads, and one without, that simply tracks mileage, an attempt to allay surveillance concerns.”

Washington is using a federal grant to pay for the project. Six other states have done the same to pay for similar pilot programs, including Oregon and California.

You can read the entire Seattle Times article here.

Please let us know what you think.


Would you prefer to pay...

Thank you for voting
You have already voted on this poll!
Please select an option!


  • GZannaras.

    Some folks drive cars with higher miles per gallon. The amount of gas they use will be less than those who get fewer miles per gallon . Tax on the gas would cost those with the more efficient cars less even though they my drive the same number of miles that some driviong a Hummer does.

  • GZannaras.

    Some folks drive cars with higher miles per gallon. The amount of gas they use will be less than those who get fewer miles per gallon .

  • Dennis Fleming.

    Pay by the mile will give the government and other an enormous amount of tracking data regarding where the vehicle travels. Wise individuals should consider who will have access to the data and how it can be used and misused. Big brother and big government will be watching every move you make. What could possible go wrong with that. Also, will there be limits on politicians using the revenue for other than highway construction and repair. Part of the current problem is how the tax funds are used.


Leave a Reply

Enter Your Log In Credentials