DuPage County voters to weigh in on per-mile driving tax

DuPage County voters to weigh in on per-mile driving tax

Voters in DuPage County Nov. 6 will give their opinions on a vehicle miles tax, a policy gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Senate President John Cullerton have entertained.

Before state lawmakers might consider a vehicle mileage tax, or VMT, DuPage County voters will register their opinions on the topic this November.

An advisory referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot in DuPage County asks voters “shall DuPage County oppose the creation of a statewide Vehicle Mileage Tax (VMT) which would tax DuPage County citizens based upon the number of miles driven annually?” A VMT would charge drivers based on the number of miles they drive over a period of time, either at a fixed rate or with a flat fee.

The ballot question follows a policy other states adopted as a pilot program, and the Illinois General Assembly broached in 2016 with legislation. Senate Bill 3267, introduced by state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, never made it to either floor for a vote. Opposition to that bill largely concerned the use of GPS tracking devices drivers would need to install in their cars, or they otherwise would need to pay a flat fee of $450. Both measures would be on top of paying gasoline taxes.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker said he was open to testing the idea if elected.

“It’s only fair, right, that if you’re on a road and traveling on that road that you should pay your fair share on the road like everybody else is paying,” Pritzker told the Daily Herald in January. He has since denied having a specific plan for the tax.

If the plan comes on top of gas taxes, it might not be a welcome addition for taxpayers. Illinois drivers already pay multilayered gas taxes, including federal, state, environmental, county home rule, home rule, regional transportation and sales tax. But if a VMT replaced the gas tax, DuPage County voters would need to weigh which cost is easier to swallow.

The question is nonbinding, so the result will not come with the force of law. However, it could serve as a powerful signal to lawmakers on where Illinoisans stand on the issue.

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