As many Illinoisans hit the road this holiday weekend, they’ll be faced with exorbitant gas taxes. But if some politicians get their way, it won’t stop there. One candidate for governor has floated the idea of a vehicle miles traveled, or VMT, tax.
“It’s only fair if you’re on a road and traveling on that road then you should pay your fair share on the road like everybody else is paying,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker told the Daily Herald in January. More recently, however, Pritzker has denied having a VMT tax plan, telling the Illinois Farm Bureau on Aug. 22, “I don’t have a proposal for a mileage tax.”
This is not the first time an Illinois politician has suggested a per-mile driving tax. In 2016, Senate President John Cullerton introduced a bill that would have required all Illinois motorists to pay a VMT tax. That tax would have come on top of the state’s current gas tax of 34 cents per gallon, but with drivers receiving a tax credit from the state to cover the number of miles driven per month.
Additionally, Cullerton’s proposal would have required drivers to either install a tracking devices to monitor mileage or pay a flat annual rate of $450. Facing major opposition, the Senate leader was ultimately forced to kill his own bill.
In light of these efforts, a group of 16 House members have signed on to a resolution opposing a VMT tax. As pointed out in the language of the resolution, “[a VMT tax] would impose undue hardship and disproportionally impact rural Illinoisans who must drive longer distances for work and school.”
Per-mile gas taxes raise serious privacy concerns. As Cullerton’s bill illustrated, drivers may be required to install devices to monitor miles driven in the event of a VMT tax. Not to mention that a VMT tax would only add to Illinoisans’ already-punishing tax burden.