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Tax mileage

November 14, 2008

Re "Recall the car tax?" editorial, Nov. 11

With the idea of increasing the annual vehicle license fee finally back on the table, it seems to me that we're missing an ideal opportunity to use the tax increase to encourage green behavior among car buyers.

If we were to make any tax increase carbon-based, charging people more for cars with low gas mileage, we could provide additional incentives for people to choose more economical vehicles without having to resort to an increase in the gas tax. We could establish an ideal fuel-economy standard that would increase over time, and charge people a "carbon tax" of, say, $10 for each mile per gallon that their cars fell short of the standard.

For example, if we establish the target fuel mileage at a relatively low 20 mpg, and your car is rated at 15 mpg, your additional tax would be $50 a year.

Depending on how aggressively we want to implement the tax, it could apply to all cars immediately, it could be phased in over time for cars already registered, or it could apply only to purchases (new or used) made after Jan. 1, 2009.

Howard Z. Berman

Pacific Palisades

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