The recent gubernatorial and current Chicago mayor elections have brought forth a plethora of new taxing ideas. While no politicians seem interested in less government spending or reducing the size and scope of government’s gigantic footprint in Illinois, literally dozens of new fees or taxes have been bandied about by Illinois politicians. Unfortunately, almost all Illinoisans know that Illinois has very high gas taxes. The Land of Lincoln is home to a sales tax on top of its motor fuel tax! Yet Illinois politicians are constantly grasping at straws for ways to make up for their overspending and overpromising for government worker pensions. These imaginative efforts have even included taxing of our very own amusement! While a vehicle mileage tax has not been officially proposed for non-commercial drivers and is not terribly likely right now, let’s just take a look at this tax and what it would mean for the citizens of Illinois.
A Vehicle Mileage Tax, or VMT, is essentially the taxing of miles driven by motorists. This tax is generally talked about as supporting the infrastructure budget for a state; for things such as road repairs or bridge repairs. Across the country, the scope of implemented VMTs is very limited – there is a trial system of volunteers using the system in Oregon and trucks are taxed here in Illinois.
One proposed reasoning behind the VMTs is that fuel taxes themselves are not generating enough revenue for the state to properly support their transportation infrastructure. This is said to be the case because of the rise of fuel-efficient vehicles and electric vehicles. A vehicle mileage tax would help ensure that there would be a reliable and steady stream of revenue for driving as a whole, no matter how fuel-efficient a vehicle became.
The VMT could be collected in a few different ways, either through a flat tax per mile driven or one that includes various factors such as congestion and time of travel.
Despite the money that is needed for upkeep of roads, finding another way to tax the public and wring them dry is not the way to do it. Cuts to government spending and reprioritizing the budget would be the smart and logical way to make up any deficiencies in the infrastructure plan. For whatever reason, Illinois politicians never seem interested in reducing costs, revisiting the propriety of certain services, or seek to consolidate duplicate government services. Government just grows and so too its costs … thus the constant thirst for new taxes and fees.
While the VMT tax is not currently on the table for Illinois, it has been talked about in the past and it may well be seriously broached again in the future. We need to safeguard our citizens from being leaned on to constantly support the government’s misplaced spending priorities. Politicians need to start looking at where they can make cuts instead of first looking to drain the public of more of their hard earned money.