Coming soon: Kalifornia Green Bureau (KGB) replaces gas tax revenue lost to electric vehicle use
Sacramento is going to interfere in your business in a way that makes what George Orwell describes in his book “1984” look like a kid thing.
Sooner or later, Sacramento is going to keep tabs on how many miles your car has driven.
And the technology they’ll employ to do this could also track where you’re going and penalize you for where you’re driving.
If you think it’s paranoia, guess again.
This will be a direct result of the California Air Resources Board’s decision to implement the phase-out of new fossil fuel vehicle sales in the Golden State by 2035.
Phasing out gas-powered vehicles will cost California $8.8 billion a year in gas taxes to pay for the roads.
It’s getting worse. Gas is also subject to a 7.75% statewide sales tax.
Based on 13.8 billion gallons of gasoline sold in California in 2021 and a statewide tax rate of 7.75%, gas pump sales generate $4.002 billion dollars per year for the state. This includes $552 million that returns to local government coffers in the jurisdiction where the gas purchases are made.
It’s a $12 billion budget hole.
And with 12% of all new vehicles sold in California being electric and the leading benchmark of 26% for electric vehicle sales as a percentage of all new vehicle sales set for 2025, that budget hole will come sooner rather than later.
That means the inflation-indexed gas tax in a few years won’t be enough to circulate enough money to maintain existing roads and transit systems and build new ones.
Locally, this may mean that the 10-year target period that Caltrans has set to replace the northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp that will be torn up on Austin Road early next year, as the phase one of the 120 Bypass/Highway 99 interchange upgrade could be pushed further.
It’s also true, even with the DMV surcharge for EVs now in place, that EV owners aren’t paying their share for the wear and tear on California’s roads.
There has always been an unfair subsidy from gas-powered vehicles to electric vehicles.
Sacramento politicians had no problem with this because it served their green goals.
But now that the state is stuck on 100% new vehicle sales being cars and light trucks that don’t generate greenhouse gases, they’re going to focus more on another green goal: money.
And if Sacramento is true to form, they simply won’t replace one tax with one that generates the same amount of revenue. A new method of taxation will likely result in a higher net tax.
It is clear that a goal will probably be pursued. The more you drive, the more you are taxed. It’s really no different than what’s happening with gas-powered vehicles right now.
The big difference is the range of gas mileage the vehicles get, which means those that are fuel efficient pay less tax per mile.
And although electric vehicles currently pay no tax per kilometer, the final solution will ensure that they do in the near future.
Besides the fact that the tax conduct technology they propose must be tamper-proof, there is the real big issue of how the state will collect the money owed to it.
Will it be based on monthly statements and send you an invoice?
Will they charge you when you pay for your annual membership?
Either way, most people don’t like being hit with a big tax bill that they probably haven’t put aside to pay.
How will the device that records the kilometers traveled be read by the state?
The most effective way is to be able to remotely access the device.
Think of the possibilities – drones, satellites and things that even George Orwell, in his wildest imagination, would never have thought possible.
The state could tax you at a commercial shipper.
And the state could probably design technology to gauge charging using home chargers by somehow isolating the rest of your power usage on your PG&E bill.
But it’s too risky.
Rest assured that some will offer an off-grid solar power charger like solar panels are in almost every home. Even if it does not charge a car 100%, it could pay for itself by reducing the tax burden of those who use them.
How does the state deal with dead blows?
The answer is simple. Technology.
If hackers can cut power to a vehicle over Wi-Fi, you can bet your bottom buck the state can do that too.
As for those trying to evade detection, rest assured that the Legislature will hand over police powers to tax officers assigned to the DMV or perhaps simply ask the CHP to do random checks to make sure ensure that your on-board device records mileage, transmits data and that you pay your tax bill.
Then there is the real issue: security.
Despite the cradle of high technology, the state has some of the most archaic computer systems around. A notorious agency for aging computers is the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Imagine how secure the state connection to your device will be.
Add to that the fact that the state will likely have the ability to siphon taxes from your bank account.
What could go wrong with the State of California in charge?
Well, consider how defrauded the state was with EDD payments at the height of the outbreak.
The state has identified $9 billion in actual fraud and expects it to grow to $20 billion when they finish checking things out.
Now imagine that the state, instead of handing out money, siphons it off virtually undetected.
There is a good chance that replacing the gas tax will usher in an era of Big Brother government that would make Stalin’s and Mao’s henchmen green with envy.
After all, there’s better living through agencies with three-letter acronyms, whether it’s the DMV or the KGB as in Kalifornia Green Bureau.
This column is the opinion of the editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at [email protected]