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Study: Drivers don't want to be taxed by the mile

101916 No one likes being taxed by the mile
The study found people hate the idea of being taxed by the mile by a more than 4-1 ratio. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

A new study out of Indiana University shows that people overwhelmingly oppose the idea of being taxed based on how far they drive, even though the federal government and several states are considering making that change.

According to the study from the university's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, people hate the idea of being taxed by the mile by a more than 4-1 ratio.

"Opposition is even greater if GPS-style devices are used to track mileage rather than self-reporting or odometer inspections," a summary of the findings said. More than 2,000 people were polled for the study.

It also found that people are willing to fight government officials who offer a vehicle miles traveled system, known as VMT.

"Many opponents feel so strongly that they say they're willing to take political action against lawmakers who try to adopt mileage user fees," it said.

"The concept is gaining traction among policymakers in the U.S.," said researcher Denvil Duncan, the report's lead author. "But the relative intensity with which opponents hold their views suggests it will be quite difficult to generate public consensus in favor of adopting mileage user fees in the near future."

That hasn't stopped the federal government and several state governments from trying. The idea has been kicked around in Washington, D.C., for several years now, in light of findings that the federal gas tax is bringing in less money that officials want to spend on highway projects.

As recently in March, the Congressional Budget Office included it in a list of possible ways to raise more federal funding for highway improvements.

The study said "at least 23 states" are considering new VMT taxes.

A few years ago, the Obama administration's Transportation Department floated a proposal to tax cars by the mile, which included plans to place mileage readers in vehicles that would be read at gas stations.

Those readings would generate a bill that people would have to pay, and people who drive more would pay more.

But the Indiana study said just 13 percent of people asked supported the idea of putting GPS systems in their cars to measure how far they drive.

Not many more people like the idea even if it's based on simple odometer readings — only 20 percent of respondents liked that idea.