Another taxing idea

Stupid ideas aren’t hard to come by, particularly when it involves the government and some way to extract money from consumers’ pockets.

But some bad ideas are worse than others. And we think this one from North Carolina is worthy of some kind of distinction, maybe the annual Tax ’em if They Do and Tax ’em Some More if

They Keep On Doing It Award for Good Drivers.

This idea was born of $4-a-gallon gasoline last summer. High-priced gas did what the laws of economics said it would do: It made people drive less.

When people drove less, they used less gas and the states — all states that charge a gas tax, not just North Carolina — suddenly saw their tax revenue from the sale of gasoline plummet.

If there’s one thing government can’t abide, it’s falling revenue. Whatever it takes, ways must be found to bring back those tax dollars.

So North Carolina Democrats put their heads together and decided the way to replace the gas tax revenue would be to tax people for simply driving, in addition to collecting tax on the sale of gasoline. The more you drive, the more you pay. Odometer nannies would check your mileage annually and, under the current proposal, you’d pay a quarter of a cent per mile driven.

Oregon created a pilot program last year to test a mileage tax, and other states have discussed the idea. But North Carolina is further along in pushing the idea than most.

Here’s what we’d be willing to bet won’t happen, if for some bad reason this idea actually becomes the law in North Carolina. When gas prices drop, as they have been doing recently, and gas tax revenues go up as a result, we’ll bet that the tax for driving won’t go away.

That, among other reasons, is why North Carolina, and other states that depend on the gas tax simply need to buck up and deal with it when high gas prices lead to low tax revenues.


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