Back during the so-called British Invasion of the domestic popular music scene of the 1960s, the most popular group was The Beatles. “Taxman” on the Revolver album, was a song that blasted the eagerness of British governments to tax just about anything imaginable:

If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street

If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat

If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat

If you take a walk, I’ll tax your feet

Beatles songwriter George Harrison wrote the song in 1966 about the United Kingdom. But it sure fits the United States in 2021. According to numerous sources there is a provision in the $1.2 trillion Senate version of the Infrastructure bill to tax us on how many miles we drive.

According to Forbes Magazine, this “vehicle mileage tax” (VMT) would tax motorists based on how many miles they drive. The bill has $125 million for a pilot program to test its feasibility. Forbes said that following pilot program completion, the Biden administration may or may not (HAH! As if ...) implement a VMT fee. “For the pilot programs, there will be volunteers [or conscripts, more likely] from all 50 states,” says Forbes, “including both passenger and commercial vehicles. The drivers would have their miles tracked with GPS and data apps, for example, that would track their miles driven for a certain time period.”

That last seems needless. Each vehicle has an odometer; why couldn’t participants simply record starting and ending mileage for the test period? It would be like filing self-employed income tax – and far less complicated.

But the above is predicated on a need for this tax. Too much spending in you-name-the-bill coming from Washington is full of inane spending unrelated to whatever the bill is supposed to fund, so I reject any need for the tax. For example: how does federal funding of gender-assignment surgery for members of the armed forces help put bombs on target?

Also, a mileage tax will directly affect each of us just like the fuel price jumps of earlier this year:

Just about everything we consume travels to us by over-the-road trucks. And just as the fuel price jumps have driven up transportation costs of everything we consume, adding a tax onto the miles such trucks travel will just push prices even higher.

Just as the transportation industry passed its fuel costs on to wholesalers and retailers (who passed then along to us), truckers will undoubtedly pass that cost on as well.

But that’s not all. Anybody who drives a vehicle would also be subject to this tax. And people in rural areas will pay more more than those in cities, since they must drive further to do whatever they need to do. A reasonably expected consequence of such a tax will be to restrain (maybe even kill) commuting to work and even traveling as part of a job. For two years before I rejoined the Daily Press, I drove 57.6 miles each way, each day, Monday through Friday, from Paragould to my job in another state. Comes out to 29,952 miles each year just for work. So even if I’d’ve been taxed one cent per mile under this proposal, that would have been another $299.52 a year in taxes. And how about those jobs, like the one I had when I first got out of the Air Force, that could require travel as far as 150 miles out of town in my own vehicle?

Additionally, even the easiest way to report miles (starting and ending mileage, from beginning to end of a given year) creates an added hassle on each person who owns a vehicle.

According to financeonline.com, by the end of 2021, 289.5 million vehicles will be roaming the roads of America. So who’s gonna gather all the data? (Hint: its initials are IRS)

How many more employees will the Internal Revenue Service need to run that program? Disregard how much of this new tax revenue would go to added payroll costs: if this keeps up – especially in light of the proposal also floating around for the IRS to enforce collection of taxes on bank deposits – the biggest arm of government will be IRS, not the Defense Department anymore.

Finally: what happens to the federal fuel tax, since the mileage tax would effectively tax the same vehicles (albeit at a different rate). Would it end?

HAH! Not unless owning fossil fuel-powered vehicles becomes so onerous that people stop buying motor fuel, and just use electric-powered vehicles. And I shudder to think how the feds might make up the shortfall.

Let me tell you how it will be

There’s one for you, 19 for me ...

Cos’ I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman

And you’re working for no one but me

Right, Joe?

Gary Exelby is a reporter for the Paragould Daily Press. He can be reached at gexelby@paragould dailypress.com.

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