The Washington State Legislature is attempting to pass a law that would require owners of electric vehicles (EVs) to pay a $100 yearly fee on their car registration to make up for the fact that they aren’t paying gas taxes. Proponents of the law in the Washington Legislature say the fee is a matter of fairness while dissenters say it is not a fee but a tax meant to punish EV owners for consciously not buying gasoline.
“Electric cars will be driving on the highways right along with all the other cars. One of our biggest issues is preservation and maintenance of our existing highways. We believe they should be paying their fair share,” said Senate Transportation Committee Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen, the lead sponsor of the measure — officially titled Washington Senate Bill 5251 — on Monday. The state gas tax in Washington is 37.5 cents per gallon, which over 12,000 miles per year racks up an average bill of $204 in state gas taxes for a conventional gas powered vehicle. EV owners would avoid paying that but isn’t that part of the point of an electric vehicle?
Gas taxes in Washington — as in most states — go toward road maintenance funds and officials see those funds dwindling as more people buy electric vehicles and stop paying gas taxes. This yearly registration fee would help make up for lost funds but opponents like anti-tax activist Tim Eyman say, “that’s a tax. It’s no fee.” Taxes levied against electric vehicles could dissuade early adopters from buying EVs therefore hurting the US fight to get off of foreign oil and emission spewing vehicles. “Whenever new technology is being introduced, we’d like to see as few barriers to entry as possible. However, we recognize the need for all drivers to contribute to road-maintenance funds,” Haugen said in a statement. Roads need to be maintained but we also need to fight for EV adoption. It looks like we’ve fallen upon another green technology conundrum.