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Oregon to consider additional tax on gas-efficient vehicles


Caroline May

For those who purchased high-efficiency vehicles hoping to save more money, Oregon just might have your number.

Beaver State lawmakers, in their upcoming session, are expected to consider legislation that would impose a charge on vehicles that get at least 55 miles per gallon of gasoline, in an effort to make up for lost gas-tax revenue, according to reports.

After 2015, owners of these high-efficiency vehicles would either have to pay an undetermined per-mile tax calculated by GPS technology, or some alternative flat rate option.

According to the Salem Statesman Journal, citizens in Oregon currently pay 30 cents in tax per gallon of gas. The state has been considering how to make up for the decline in gas-tax revenue due to the advent of more efficient vehicles ever since it initiated its first task force to look at the problem in 2001.

“Everybody uses the road, and if some pay and some don’t, then that’s an unfair situation that’s got to be resolved,” said Jim Whitty, manager of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Office of Innovative Partnerships and Alternative Funding, according to the Associated Press.

Oregon is not the first state to look at implementing a different type of tax in the face of high gas-mileage cars. In February, Washington state will begin charging electric cars owners an annual fee of $100 to make up for lost gas-tax revenue.

Opponents argue that the additional tax will deter consumers from purchasing high-efficiency vehicles, and burden the industry.

Despite the industry pushback, Salem Republican Rep. Vicki Berger argues that the tax would help level the playing field.

“There’s a basic unfairness around that tax, and everyone is looking for the magic way to at least get the ball rolling on a different way of doing this — one that reconnects mileage with taxes paid,” Berger said, according to the Statesman.

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