Brit Liggett

Washington State Looking to Impose $100 Tax on EV Owners to Help with Lost Gas Revenue

by , 02/08/11

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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.

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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.

Via The Seattle Times

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15 Comments

  1. Jutte May 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I live in Washington. The roads are crap and I don’t see a lot of EV’s driving around. I might be more sympathetic to the tax if i noticed any work going on at all…esp. outside of Seattle. I think they need to look at how they are espending monies not where to get more.

  2. pfletch February 13, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    Easy compromise solution: charge registration fees by official vehicle weight (including batteries or fuel-full to be fair) and miles driven in past year. Yes, there will be mileage cheaters, so a way around that needs to be devised — perhaps with a fine if the mileage at sale differs significantly from that reported at last registration. Then you eliminate state fuel taxes.

    The only other way to do it would be for the state to take *some* of the electric taxes if you register an electric vehicle. But that wouldn’t come close to making up the lost tax revenue. Heck, we consider our ferries part of the highway system and we’re having trouble adequately funding them!

  3. caeman February 13, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    AllForTheGreen, by that logic, people without kids shouldn’t have to pay any school taxes, because they aren’t directly using it. How do you propose that the local government recover the lost funds used for road maintenance while they piggish EVs incur as much damage as an SUV to the road beds? There are no free rides.

  4. AllForTheGreen February 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    How the flying-phuk is it “fair” to charge people for something they’re not purchasing, let alone conscientiously not using because it’s a a toxic blight upon our society’s development. Why not charge nonsmokers fees while we’re at it? Some people seriously WANT to get shot.

  5. Chipachikus February 10, 2011 at 5:43 am

    I thought only here, in Serbia, politicians can come up with such stupidity. I guess too many Serbians emerged to USA, so the influence became obvious.
    This law sounds like pressure from oil industry…

  6. lazyreader February 9, 2011 at 8:26 am

    About 80-90 percent of the Interstate highway system was payed for out of user fees. Coming in the form of tolls on roads, gas taxes and tire taxes all of which are payed for by users willingly, on a pay-as-you-go system. As they used it more, the revenues collected increased to pay for it’s expansion. I honestly believe federal funding and taxes for roads can be eliminated and the responsibilities can be left entirely to the states. That way the federal government can’t earmark revenues or tamper with states budgets. I honestly don’t think we need a federal scale to the department of Transportation. States can handle all those duties. While their are significant subsidies to driving they add up to a little more than a penny per passenger mile. People take transit and stuff but the subsidies to transit are anywhere from 30 cents to over a dollar per passenger mile. If someone else is subsidizing you you’ll take transit. If you had to pay for that entire cost yourself, you’d simply stop doing it because you couldn’t afford to. So better prioritization of driving and reducing traffic will save more money over time than the unrealistic goal of building transit systems in major areas and attempted to persuade people to use them. Indiana privatized several of it’s roads, there’s no reason to think Washington couldn’t do the same. There’s no reason to think that smaller roads couldn’t be funded through similar means such as highways and streets.

  7. caeman February 9, 2011 at 7:48 am

    The Hummer is paying its share of the road tax via a poor MPG rating and a very large gas tank. No need to make up for the extra tax.

    I am willing to concede that raising road maintenance funds via Fuel Taxation is counter-productive. But until the entire system is over-hauled (Odds of slim to none in our life-time), all y’all will cause yourselves a lot less stress by working with the system. Maybe replace all fuel taxes with a weight tax on yearly car registrations. Oh, wait, EV’s would be paying as much as a Hummer. Oh, well. Road maintenance is a factor of weight-stress over time. The roads don’t care what kind of fuel you burn, or don’t burn. They crumble because of cars driving on them.

    I find it unfair that my tax money is funding EV car purchases, when that money would be better spent on education and health care for the poor.

  8. bigmouth February 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    So lets start charging the prius’s $95 and civics $80 all the way down to charging the hummer nothing…this is the only way to be completely fair! This is crap from the oil lobbyists, if the government needs more revenue increase the gas tax the gas guzzlers are the ones dumping crap into our air, polluting our water, creating wars, sending out money to other countries and causing lung cancer among other ailments to all of us.

  9. gilgarza313 February 8, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    a nissan leaf weight 3000lbs same as chevy volt. to compare a tiny smart car weight 1800lbs not that big of a difrence.

  10. caeman February 8, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    The Chevy Volt weighs 3,520 pounds (1).

    The Ford Focus weighs 2,630 pounds (2).

    Physics dictate that the heavier an object, the more force it has against a road. More force, equals more stress. Without roads built to withstand the great average load of cars that weight almost 1,000 pounds more, the road system will incur repair MORE OFTEN.

    I can point you to some high school science books that explains in greater detail, since someone apparently skipped that class.

    (1) http://gm-volt.com/2008/08/21/chevy-volt-curb-weight-around-3520-pounds/

    (2) http://www.leftlanenews.com/ford-focus-sedan.html

  11. caeman February 8, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Talk about missing the forest for the trees. Without roads in good condition, how will people get food, to work, mail and other essential gov’t services that are delivered via those roads? It makes perfect sense that the road maintenance is paid for by those that USE the roads. Cars and Trucks use those roads. Taxing the fuel they use is an easy way of getting those funds, without needlessly taxing those that don’t directly use the roads. EVs use the road, ergo, they should continue to pay into its maintenance. EV’s way far more than standard cars and do far more damage in the long-term to the average road bed. Nothing is free. EVs enjoy not having to buy gas, that is their benefit. But obviating their need to help pay for roads? That is self-entitlement bordering on elitism. It is bad enough my tax dollars are being wasted to fund the purhase of the cars for rich snobs, and install charging stations.

    When EVs reach the cost of a Hyundai Accent, THEN and only then will they actually be serving the people that most need the relief from travel expenses. The rich don’t need tax help, the poor do.

  12. fish and bicycles February 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    P.S. I’d like to see some evidence that EVs are heavier than gas-powered vehicles, and that the increased weight causes more damage to the roads.

  13. fish and bicycles February 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    caeman, thinking simply in terms of lost revenues for road maintenance is missing the forest for the trees.

    It’s a highly questionable system to have road maintenance tied mostly to the sale of a fuel that will be disappearing, and a fuel that, when burned, causes damage to the environment, damage that the state dishes out millions of dollars to prevent and repair with other state-funded programs.

    The underlying catalyst of this desperate money-raising idea is a grossly regressive Washington State tax system that fails to adequately provide funding for essential government programs like basic health care for the poor and education.

  14. gilgarza313 February 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    thats crazy as hell, what is wrong with these guys, dont we pay taxes on the electric bill.

  15. caeman February 8, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Good for Washington State. Something people seem to forget is how the roads are maintained. Without the tax money, no repairs. It would have to come from somewhere. Are EV owners somehow exempt from their share of the maintenance cost they incur on the roads they drive extra-heavy electric cars? All of that extra weight causes more damage than a gas car.

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