Washington State’s Annual EV Tax is Logical – But Why?

Washington StateMost people realize that a major part of the price of fuel is taxes, 37.5¢/gal in Washington State. This tax goes to pay for maintenance on the state’s highway system. Seeing that electric vehicle [EV] drivers don’t spend money on gas, it seems that Washington figured out how to get their money from EV drivers as well, with a new EV tax that was just passed, and will take effect February 2013.

The new tax seems logical, but charging EV drivers an extra $100 per year is going to hurt. The new EV tax, to be assessed along with annual registration fees, is aimed at recovering some of the taxes EV drivers won’t be paying on gas. So, “you’re trying to do something good and they still find a way to get revenue. It’s unfortunate,” says Joe Lambrix, an Olypmpia resident and owner of two EVs.

Jay Friedland of Plug In America, says maybe “$100 per year isn’t a big deal, but it’s not a well-balanced policy.” Considering that EV drivers use their vehicles for short commutes and that their vehicles are lighter and more economical, his suggestion is to assess the fee on annual miles traveled and vehicle weight.

Logical, yes, but not particularly fair. Now that some drivers have found a cleaner alternative, it seems odd that Washington would encourage EV ownership with incentives, and then turn around and tax them annually. And what of the greater value of EV ownership, such as reduced emissions, pollution, and impact on the environment and public health? Where is the balance?


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