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:

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


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.

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.


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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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)

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.

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

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.

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