CHECK: Does the infrastructure bill include usage charges per kilometer?


Does the current infrastructure bill include a new pilot program to study user charges per kilometer that would charge drivers based on the number of kilometers traveled?

INDIANAPOLIS – A billion dollar infrastructure bill is getting a lot of attention this week – not only on Capitol Hill, but on social media as well. As lawmakers debate the fate of the bipartisan infrastructure plan, allegations about the legislation are circulating on Facebook and Twitter.

“Buried on page 508 of the 2,702-page Infrastructure Bill is a National Motor Vehicle Use Per Kilometer (MBUF) pilot program which is essentially a long-term plan to make driving of an overpriced car, “a Facebook post.

Another widely circulated article on Twitter shows an image from NewsMax TV that references user charges per mile as President Biden’s “driving tax”.

The claims caused confusion, with viewers of 13News contacting VERIFY with several questions.

“I saw on Facebook that the government wants to start charging mileage charges for every mile people drive. Is that true? “One viewer wrote. Another asked,” Is it true that President Biden’s infrastructure plan … is associated with a mileage use tax? “

THE QUESTION

Does the current infrastructure bill include a new pilot program to study user charges per kilometer that would charge drivers based on the number of kilometers traveled?

THE SOURCES

  • Text of House Resolution 3684, Infrastructure Investment and Employment Law
  • Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy
  • The Tax Foundation, an independent, not-for-profit tax policy research center

THE ANSWER

Yes, the infrastructure bill currently under consideration in Congress includes a pilot program to determine whether a per-mileage user charge based on how much you drive would be achievable. But if the bill passes, that doesn’t mean the government will start charging a per-mile charge for every mile driven. The bill would simply create a nationwide trial to see if this type of user fee might make sense and if it is even possible, and it would only include volunteers who wish to participate.

WHAT WE FOUND

To assess complaints and answer viewers’ questions, 13News VERIFY reviewed the actual infrastructure bill, HR 3684. The legislation is over 2,700 pages long. On page 508, the legislation begins to define a “national driver of motor vehicle user charges per kilometer”.

The program would create a pilot project to see if the government can implement a fair and efficient way to increase funding for roads through fees that drivers would pay based on how much they drive.

The bill mandates the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of the Treasury and an advisory board to establish a pilot program to achieve the following objectives:

  • “To test the design, acceptance, implementation and financial viability of a national tariff for the use of motor vehicles per kilometer”
  • “Meeting the need for additional revenue for surface transport infrastructure and a national motor vehicle user fee”
  • “Provide recommendations for the adoption and implementation of a national user fee per kilometer for motor vehicles. “

The program would essentially create a limited trial to see if the government can implement a fair and efficient way to increase funding for roads through fees that drivers would pay based on how much they drive.

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Currently, the states and the federal government pay for the construction and maintenance of roads primarily through fuel taxes and automobile registration fees. But it has left the country’s highways underfunded and, in some places, in poor condition.

To solve this problem, the Non-Partisan Tax Foundation says, “One solution is to fund highways by taxing kilometers driven by vehicles. Rather than using taxes on cars or fuel … a tax levied directly on kilometers comes close to capturing externalities and approximating the cost of maintaining the roads of each vehicle.

The infrastructure bill – along with the idea of ​​a per-mile user charge – was passed by the U.S. Senate with the support of all Democrats and 19 Republicans. One of those Republicans is Senator Bill Cassidy (R – Louisiana) who helped negotiate the bill. In August, he took to Twitter to dispel myths on legislation.

“There is no kilometer tax in this bill,” Cassidy wrote. “What you’re hearing is about a study to see if such a charge would even be possible for issues like electric cars driving our streets without paying gas tax like the rest of us. It does not implement a new tax.

The bill provides for the pilot project to include residents of all 50 states, DC and Puerto Rico, including drivers of commercial and personal vehicles. All participants would volunteer for the pilot. Participants would continue to pay the traditional gasoline tax, but would also begin paying a per-mile usage fee set by the Department of the Treasury. The government would then reimburse the costs for the program participants.

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The bill lists possible technologies that could be used to implement the pilot program:

  • Third-party on-board diagnostic devices (OBD-II)
  • Applications for smartphones
  • Telemetry data collected by car manufacturers
  • Motor vehicle data obtained by auto insurance companies
  • Data from States that have received a grant under the FAST Act
  • Motor vehicle data obtained from petrol stations

If the bill is approved as is, up to $ 125 million would be spent on the five-year pilot program that would run until the summer of 2026.

While the legislation calls for a nationwide pilot program to determine whether a per-mile user charge makes sense and even possible, it won’t create a new tax on drivers. The pilot will be evaluated by lawmakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation, who will then recommend expanding the pilot, creating a national per-kilometer user fee system, dropping the concept, or considering other options.



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