ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota transportation officials are looking for a few good drivers for a test program that might someday lead to a mileage-based tax.

The 500 volunteers needed in Hennepin and Wright counties will use GPS-equipped smartphones to record and submit travel information. The idea is to see how well such a system works.

WCCO’s Bruce Hagevik Interviews Cory Johnson

The state is looking ahead to a time when so many electric and hybrid vehicles are on the roads that a gas tax no longer nets enough money to build and maintain roads. A mileage tax would collect money based on how many miles someone drives rather than on how much gas they use.

The Legislature allocated $5 million for the pilot program in 2007. The department will recruit volunteers in May and begin the research in June.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (47)
  1. Citizen of Minnesota says:

    Minnesota is addicted to oil through the gas tax. This is a ridiculous way to spend $5 million. Look at the sales tax for revenue and bump it up. Why go through all these gyrations for something that could be so hard to implement? And why spend $5 million now when we need to balance the budget?

    1. NRK says:

      The gas tax is a “use tax” for the road. If you use the roads more you will use more fuel and pay more tax. Why bump up sales tax to make people pay more money in taxes when they may or may not use the roads? This program makes perfect sence in trying to find a way to tax the people who use the road but don’t use gas. It’s called “Progress” and the rest of us are moving forward, you should try to come with us.

  2. Ginger Shepla says:

    Do you really want the government tracking your every move? This is truly scary. I hope I don’t live long enough to see something like this get implemented. So long to the land of the free.

    1. Phil Mcrackin says:

      I have to agree, I want the Gov out of my life.

  3. Greg Ray says:

    gimme a phone, and don’t charge the gas tax!!! I’ll show you where I drive, I have NO PROBLEM with that. Anything that makes gas cheaper is GOOD!!

    1. KP says:

      No no no, they wouldn’t get rid of the gas tax, this would be added to it. No tax is EVER eliminated.

  4. Joe Schmo says:

    They can track me all they want, just a waste of their time. It would make too much sense to get taxed based on how much you use something.

  5. Mark says:

    Yay, now when you will carpool, you can pay just as much tax. Take the bus? Same tax. Walk? Pay that mileage tax.

    1. Bobby says:

      Mark- I think you are being sarcastic, but this is a charge per miles DRIVEN. Riding in a bus? no tax. Walking? no tax.

  6. fred says:

    instead of coming up with new ways to tax the working class,why not just close ALL the tax loopholes for the rich?

  7. Jim says:

    Can they affix these to bicycles so they can also pay for roadway usage?!?! That would be awesome! Instead of all the benefits and no cost (to them) they can pay their way.

  8. Manny says:

    I think it’s a good idea. The “up keep” should be paid for by those who use them. Too bad those darn bicycles don’t wear out the rode surface. Good try though.

  9. Flower child says:

    Time to return to riding horses! They only need cheap dirt roads. Oh, wait, we’d probably have to pay a tax on the road apples….

  10. Chuck Richards says:

    A mileage tax would be very unfair to those of us that live in rural Minnesota. We don’t have a grocery or hardware store in our “neighborhood” let alone a church or doctor’s office. Instead we have to drive significant distances for these services that the metro areas have close by

    1. Ed says:

      We are already paying 33 cents a gallon in gas tax, doesn’t this translate into the more you drive or the worse your MPGs in larger vehicles the more you pay for the roads you use?
      So put the milage tax on electric vehicles only.
      Mileage taxed at .01 a mile would basically double the tax for rural Minnesotans. Think about how many miles you put on your vehicle last year. 10k, 20k miles maybe?

  11. Sam says:

    We all use roads, whether we personally drive on them or not. Our food and supplies get delivered via roadways. People that ride the bus or take a taxi are also using the road. We all use the roads in some form or another and should share equally in its maintenance and new construction. Since businesses make a profit while using the roads they should help out by paying more than a private resident. No more gax tax; send out monthly road maintenance bills.

  12. Dan says:

    Can anyone clue me on the difference between this and a privately funded toll road which is pay-per-use… I’m just curious what arguement is used for private vs. public in such a situation… It’s my understanding that private toll fares provide upkeep for that road and that road only, but government (could) take the so called toll and use it for something completely different (education/welfare/stadium) etc… Just looking for opinions and clarity…

  13. GE says:

    Just charge GE an income tax. That will cover everything, plus we could build flying cars with the leftover funds.

  14. Julie says:

    I think this is one of those rediculous taxes that the colonists left England for.
    Seriously. Mileage Tax?
    Get real.
    They have no understanding on how many people in the cities will pull out their bicycles and begin pedaling to and from work.

    If they tax our mileage, we are truly no longer free citizens, FREE to go wherever we wish when we wish. Are they trying to make the lower income people and rural people shut in’s for affordability?

    Don’t give them their test subjects, People.
    You would be putting the taxation noose around your own necks if you do.

    1. NRK says:

      You are FREE to go wherever you want, just build your own raod to get there if you don’t want to pay a “use tax” for the county, state, and interstate roads that the government was nice enough to build and maintain for rest of us. If you buy gas you are already paying a mileage tax becuaes the gas is taxed to maintain the roads. This will only tax those with an electirc or hybrid vehicle to cover the loss or tax collected from the user because they use less gas. This program makes perfect sence in trying to find a way to tax the people who use the road but don’t use gas. It’s called “Progress” and the rest of us are moving forward, you should try to come with us.

    2. Mikey says:

      We wouldn’t be free? Seems to me I could still go wherever I want. Guess what? You pay mileage tax NOW. Don’t drive? Great, no gas used, therefore no tax. If you drive, you average X MPG, which means you use Y gallons of gas, which means you pay a percentage of Y in taxes that is proportional to the amount of miles you drive. Sounds like a mileage tax to me.

      Did you even read the article? They are trying to prepare for the eventuality of alternative fuel cars becoming more prevalent while still being able to support our infrastructure.

      Tell me, Julie, if in one year, every driver in America switched to electric cars, how do you propose we fund our roads and highway system? And how to you propose we do it in a fair manner so that the people that benefit the most contribute a proportionate share?

      Christ, people. Not every idea is a winner, and it’s perfectly acceptable to complain about something you don’t agree with, but at least have the intelligence to supply an alternative solution.

      “NO! Don’t do that! It’ll hurt me! I don’t like it! No no no! Not me!”
      – “Okay, we can look at other ideas.”
      “Alright, thank you.”
      – “Got any other ideas?”
      – “Well then, I guess we’ll hav-”
      “NOOOO!! Not me! Not to me! No no! Waaaaaaah!”

  15. Rusty Shackelford says:

    The next steps of the Obama socialist movement. Tax drivers, force light rail.

  16. dan says:

    I see the future, air tax, grass tax, oh wait we need to pay for mindot to drive a full size truck to watch construction, or take a picture, or go to lunch. Why cant the state start with themselves, drive smaller cars, heck why dont you record state vehicle habits? That would be something to see.

  17. Rusty Shackelford says:

    The report comment button is much easier than trying to agrue your phoney prejustice. Typical liberals, it’s nothing for us to worry about though, we are waiting for the next election, this was the experiment we needed.

  18. jfee says:

    I’m sure my 2004 saturn has the same effect a a 50 ton oversize load. Let’s really tax the heck out of couriers, deliverymen etc. It’s about time we taxed these rich a-holes!

    1. Rusty Shackelford says:

      Couriers and deliverymen are rich? You must be so poverty stricken it has warped your uneducated mind.

    2. dan says:

      Well smart guy your products will just go up in price. Deliverymen only bring what you want.

    3. Bobby says:

      I think jfee was trying to be sarcastic

  19. Chris says:

    Funny comments. I like the idea of a “user fee” or “travel impact fee” for the people that drive the most. Driving is a privilege not a right. Its about time that havier users start to pay their fare share for the roads they use. Everything in life is a decision. You are free to live wherever you want so I am not concerned about how much you will have to pay under this model. You could have chosen to live in the metro and have transit options available. I chose to buy an Escalade and get crappy gas mileage but I am also wise enough to use the bus to get to and from work. While the bus does not fully pay for it self through fares, neither do automobiles pay for themselves through the gas and registration taxes levied upon them either.

    The “Big Brother” argument, puhleaze. Do you own a cellphone? Trackable. You see all those cameras at various intersections? I thought so.

    How many of you whining about this also want to ban abortion and institute a photo ID for voting? Really, you want the government to be able to track your votes but yet somehow you won’t be free to travel because of paying for a mileage based travel tax????Do you still support the war on drugs after the billions of dollars wasted? Republicans are the biggest hypocrites ever.

    From a Libertarian

  20. Bobby says:

    This is just great…we will get taxed like crazy when we fill our tanks, and then taxed again when we drive anywhere. Let’s just keep adding taxes on the backs of the middle class. Why cut spending when we can just raise taxes! (sarcasm)

  21. G benson says:

    People that drive electric cars already are being taxed by paying the electric bill. Not only will they have to pay the sales tax on the electricity but a mileage tax too. The government should be encouraging people to drive electric cars. Once again the government head is stuck up their …….

  22. Me says:

    Just another subtle environmental policy; tax the gas hogs! Who cares if that includes blue collar workers that have to drive trucks for their equipment. The government istrying to punish SUV drivers, yet they end up making it virtually impossible for truckers to make any money. Do they want us to go back to the prairie days where we only ate the food that we grew on our land, because the cost of shipping any food will skyrocket. I’m pretty sure an electric or hybrid car is incapable of hauling much weight. Unbelievable!!

  23. John Redcorn says:

    These comments are a perfect example of why there will never be tax reform. A program is setup with the idea of having everyone pay the same based on use and conservatives are against it because it has the word tax. The current gas tax penalizes people with poor MPG, the proposed plan bases it on usage. Seems like a fair concept except is doesn’t account for interstate travel. I hope those worried about the gov’t tracking them have thrown out their smart phones and garmins. Probably shouldn’t be commenting on the internet either, they’re watching you.

  24. Laura says:

    This punishes those of us who are forced to drive for our job. Its another tax on the hard working middle income citizens. DON’T DO IT!!!!

  25. nate says:

    I drive 30 miles one way to work every day. I’m not in a position to live near my work since the houses there are too pricy, and barely anything worthwhile near my current residence is hiring or has decent enough pay or benefits. I should have to pay more for road usage than someone who lives close enough to their work, know people who work when and where they do or said areas are a part of a system for using alternate transportation i.e. carpool, taxi, city bus, light rail, walking. And by the way as a few others have pointed out this “tax” is IN PLACE OF THE GAS TAX NOT ADDED TO IT. It just plain makes sense.

  26. Karen says:

    This is extremely frustrating for those of us who live further out because we could only afford a house that was not located in the Twin Cities. The amount we pay for gas is already $400 a month as we have a 55 mile commute each way. Is this just a tax for those driving electric cars?

    1. nate says:

      Instead of paying tax on gasoline which only applies to gas driven vehicles and mainly affects larger poorer MPG vehicles, everyone including electric, hybrid, biodiesel, ethanol, and gasoline gets taxed a % based on miles driven on roadways. That way the gov’t can collect money from people driving vehicles which the gas tax no longer applies or minimally affects them.

  27. RIII says:

    Metro transit steals about 69% of its operating cost from everyone, people that use it pay the other 31%. How about charge all the mass transit riders what it really costs to ride the bus or train and put the money back into the roads.

  28. Swamp Rat says:

    What a waste of time and money for such a stupid idea for a wide open spaces state like Minnesota! Reform the income tax system to be more equitable to all.

    Instead of a mileage tax, why can’t Minnesota have toll roads like many other states?

  29. Citizen of Minnesota says:

    Let’s think about this tax. What will be the incentive then for people to drive more gas efficient vehicles, especially if there is no longer a gas tax? If you drive a 10 mpg truck or a 50 mpg hybrid it will be the same tax. Anyone who thinks the gas tax will go away and be replaced with a mileage tax is a fool. Historically, taxes just get heaped on taxes–nothing goes away. Has there been any thought as to how a mileage tax will get implemented? Will we all be forced to buy some kind of computer module for our cars? That might work for new cars. How about those of us who drive classic cars? Will we now have the mileage tax police who stop our cars to be sure the computer link is working? This is such a load! Someone at MNDOT must be trying to justify their job or earn a bonus by coming up with such a ludicrous idea. Stop this now, MNDOT! No one should volunteer for such a cockamamie idea.

  30. John Q says:

    The thing is they wont lower any other taxes this will just be a new additional tax that gets added on. Sorry Fee or what ever you want to call it. Gas will NOT be cheaper, taxes will NOT be cheaper just another way of the state sucking the life blood out of it’s citizens. Besides, any new “road” money will just go for bicycle lanes anyway. Yep your gas taxes and car taxes go to them.

  31. gtV says:

    Let’s be equitable to everyone! Use a certain expressway or heavily used highway– pay for it! Do like other states have done have toll roads!!

    If managed properly, toll roads and other tolled infrastructures do pay for themselves, pay for their upkeep, and maintain themselves. Many toll roads have been self-sufficient for years.

    So why have a mileage tax where folks on the lower end of the economic spectrum pay dearly for their living expenses and sustenance? Because of the inequities of mass transit in MN, those with legitimate long auto commutes to work will pay dearly. Tolls roads are a more viable, user friendly, and equitable alternative to mileage taxes. Past and present history show toll roads work where they are instituted.

  32. John Q says:

    yeah, lets see about MNDOT, there was one truck up front doing something and behind that one truck there was 4 big dump trucks with the arrows and a full sized pick up behind that.

  33. b says:

    this seems like just another way fpr big brother tp watch people they say its for one thing but really for another. this is unconstitutional for the goverment to have gps in our cars if this goes through i smell a bunch of lawsuits.

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