Gas taxes replaced by EV taxes -- a new paradigm?

Gas taxes replaced by EV taxes -- a new paradigm?

A quote from this article, which also covers this trend across the US for replacing lost revenue from gas taxes:

The new year is only two weeks old, but we already have a candidate for one of the strangest public policy proposals of 2013. Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell has proposed eliminating the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon gas tax, increasing the state’s sales tax to 5.8 percent from 5 percent, and levying a new $100 annual charge on vehicles that run on alternative fuels. Meanwhile, in Washington State, electric vehicle owners are subject to a new law that requires them to pay a $100 annual registration fee. It seems somewhat perverse. [...] But these moves also highlight a new reality.

Also relates to Oregon thread:

FLsportscarenth... | March 7, 2013

Well in my experience in working closely with politicians on both sides of the aisle they are for the most part VERY stupid - most are only good at blowing hot air and twisting legislation for their own gain - many can not understand basic economics, read maps or grasp the most simple technical or scientific concepts. I have an equally dim opinion of most lawyers - well most politicians are lawyers - maybe that is part of the problem... ***Note I said most, not all***

Banning of certain forms of governmental action is important part of protecting democracy - our constitution bans the establishment of a state religion, poll taxes and unpaid servitude. New Hampshire prohibits the collection of sales and income tax... Live free or die! I love NH!

The posting gives reasons why people on both sides of the political divide would support the various pro EV measures proposed. It is considerate to those who think differently but support the same noble idea.

Fascist? Not to much... read it carefully and consider.

Mel. | March 7, 2013

FLsports, I thought you were eloquent.

FLsportscarenth... | March 8, 2013

Thank you Mel.

It is sometimes good even for a moderate to present radical new ideas, providing you present them in a thoughtful way.

EV's and Tesla is something all thoughtful and well intentioned people can get behind. So hopefully thoughtful people here of any political stripe can be inspired to help smooth the path. We see from the GM EV1 experience that there are many out there who would like to see EV's fail, EV's and Tesla is a major part of making a brighter future for not only the US but us all...

My hat is off to people that are different than me in thinking or practice that do good things...

The pragmatic tree huggers who helped put in EV incentives, thank you, you make a real positive difference and are true to your principles, your foresight makes a better world a possiblity...

The early investors and buyers who helped Tesla get this far, thank you for taking the financial risk and having patience that brought about this fantastic product, may you reap just rewards...

hfcolvin | March 8, 2013

Well, the update on Virginia law is that the Governor's proposal was rejected but modified and the final plan eliminates the gas sales tax but adds a wholesale gas tax ,not paid at the pump. The alternative fuel vehicle $100 annual fee stuck and now everyone is up in arms because it includes hybrid vehicles. I wonder where these folks were before the bill was voted on.

The law also includes the aforementioned increase in the state sales tax, and a few other modifications which ultimately result in an overall tax increase, particularly in Northern VA. Our Republican dominated state government has been careful to avoid the "tax increase" language though. Overall I'm OK with this although a little disappointed myself in the hybrid inclusion as I own a Plug in Prius. Just more incentive to go ahead and plan on Gen III car to replace it.

David Trushin | March 10, 2013

de minimus roughly translated from latin means "the camel has its nose inside the tent flap".

Brian H | March 10, 2013

No, it's "de minimis". From Latin, de + minimis, ablative of minimus ("smallest, least")

Electron | March 10, 2013

I got the joke David ;)

mcx-sea | March 10, 2013

Got caught before delivery when the taxocrats in Washington State quickly and quietly slipped in a $100 annual "Road Use Fee." But still several thousand ahead of them by taking delivery before the nearly 10% sales tax exemption expires!

Aticus | June 14, 2013

I'm interested in hearing arguments on the efficacy of replacing the gas tax for highway infrastructure with a tax on tires. Isn't that the most most common attribute of all vehicles? Is that not the best way to measure actual road use?

Musterion | June 14, 2013

@Aticus, you mean beyond some state-mandated per-unit tire disposal fees (e.g. in California)? Your proposal if additional fixed amount per-unit weights against higher performance tires with more frequent replacement. Some might argue that may be a good thing as people buying higher vs lower performance tires "opted in" for the extra cost, but it doesn't scale directly with mileage use of roads unless normalized somehow. It may more closely scale with gross amount of rubber compounds deposited on roads and in atmosphere but even that is dependent on tire design and presumably not what the other tax measures are trying to address. (Personally I moved up into the mountains and cleaner air after seeing the amount of rubber dust deposited on my window sills when living near highly trafficked roads).

AmpedRealtor | June 14, 2013

So... Republicans have now switched places with Democrats by advocating higher taxes? Who'd have thunk.

Aticus | June 14, 2013


Thank you for responding, this is the kind of point of view I am looking for. I held up the tire tax as a discussion point since I think we all know a usage tax of some kind will happen eventually. I was looking for some mechanism that is as fair as it can be. A system that is uncomplicated, easy to administer and non-intrusive. I don't think we will ever find one that is absolutely fair and takes into account every eventuality. For example; suppose I get a set of new tires, pay the tax and then run over a 2x4 full of nails as I leave the store. Would I have to pay the tax on it all over again? In a perfect world i would buy a 70k mile tire and pay the tax on 70k miles of road use. Reality suggests I would get less than 70k miles on a 70k mile tire. There are those persons who would run on unsafe tires to avoid the tax as well. We just need to find a system that makes sense.

machmike | June 14, 2013

Colorado's Gov. Just signed off on a $50 a year EV road tax. I read about this on Monday.
He wanted to end the discussion before it started, and all the nonsense that happens.

I don't know if I agree, but $50 is better than $100.

Aticus | June 14, 2013


I live in Maryland so I am unfamiliar with California legislation. How does the $50 annual fee compare to the California gas tax for cars traveling...say...12k miles/year?

ColonyGolfer | June 14, 2013

If a state is going to charge an EV owner/driver tax-loss for not buying gasolene, then they should charge ICE owner/drivers tax/loss for not buying electricity. Doh! If you own an EV, your electric bill goes up and you pay a higher utility tax. What they should do is transfer the increase in the amount of utility tax collected to their highway fund. Fair is fair.

stevenmaifert | June 14, 2013

It's not about buying gas or electricity. It's about an equitable way for EV owners to pay their fair share for use of publicly funded roadways.

AmpedRealtor | June 15, 2013

I believe the only fair way to administer an "EV tax", or whatever we want to call it, is to do it at the time of registration renewal and base it on actual miles driven. When you buy a new vehicle, you are taxed based on 15,000 miles annual travel. When you renew your registration the following year, you are input your odometer reading for the prior year and pay for whatever miles were driven in excess of 15,000. If less, you receive a credit. Your current year's EV tax will be based on the expectation that you will drive the same amount of miles as last year, and you settle-up every time you renew your registration. That way the tax is based on actual miles driven and is not some arbitrary number. If gasoline is taxed by the gallon, which translates to miles driven, then the same can apply to EVs.

Of course the most fair way would be to add a tax to every unit of EV charge you put into your car. That is an apples-to-apples tax like the gasoline tax. The problem, however, is determining what electrical usage at home is going to your EV and what is not. I don't believe our utility companies have the ability to distinguish, and since our power grids don't carry data like they do in Europe and other countries, the car can't even send a signal over the electrical line to tell the utility that it's charging.

Aticus | June 17, 2013

Certainly a per mile tax seems to be the most fair and if it is done in conjunction with registration, vehicle weight can also be factored in. With the scenario you suggest such a system could be applied to all vehicles and the road tax on gasoline could be eliminated. What I am grappling with is how intrusive such a system would be. Enforcement seems like it might be difficult. In my state we register every two years and that is when we have to do a emissions inspection as well. EVs don't require emissions inspection, will I have to take my EV there just to get the odometer read? It really is a pain to get to a state inspection station during the hours they are open. Fortunately they let you reschedule without penalty if you just can't make it there before the deadline. I don't think they would be so forgiving if it is a prerequisite for calculating taxes. I worry about putting more responsibility on an institution (Motor Vehicle Administration) that seems to have difficulty functioning with their current work load.

DeLaneyEV | June 17, 2013

paying per mile is a horrible idea, talk about big brother. yes high mileage drivers use more of the road but they also pay more in fuel which is also taxed heavily from state to state. if states want you to pay for use then convert the highways to toll roads. revenues currently exist the problem isn't money its politicians that borrow against funds designated for road use to pay for their pet projects (both Dem and Rep alike)

rdalcanto | June 17, 2013

Toll roads require infrastructure and people, and slow down traffic. The Gas tax was a fairly fair way to collect based on usage. But now cars can get 15mph or 50mpg, or not use any at all. I think the gas tax should be eliminated. In Salt Lake City lots of gas stations also function as safety and emissions centers that can handle your registration renewal. Having to stop at one once a year to have the odometer checked, pay your usage tax, and get your license plate sticker hardly seems like "big brother" to me. Seems easy and fair in our current age of evolving technology and energy sources.

Aticus | June 18, 2013

Of course there is the option of the car reporting mileage to the MVA directly or through Tesla. How would you feel about that?

Rte66 | June 18, 2013

For fairness, the registration tax to cover road wear * should scale for usage tax.

There should probably be a gas tax to cover the environmental cost of burning gas--but this should not include road wear costs.