When drivers do not use gasoline they do not pay gasoline tax. Seems obvious, of course, but state lawmakers are wrestling with that. Electric vehicles (EV) use the roads that gasoline taxes are supposed to maintain.
Some states have enacted fees for EVs to get EV owners to pay their share of road taxes. That is the logic of policymakers.
EV fees and gasoline taxes are apples and oranges, though. As a driver uses more gasoline, and therefore more use of roads, the more taxes get paid. A flat fee on EVs, however, are the same if a driver drives 40 miles or 40,000 miles a year.
Debates about this transition of fuels and taxes is fascinating. Evolving, too, as policymakers and industry reps makes their cases.
Fair share: Some argue that EV users pay more than their share of taxes compared to petroleum users. Consumer Reports said just that: “Some states passing EV fees far in excess of what average motorists pay in gas taxes.” North Carolina was noted as one state that has a proposed EV fee in excess of gasoline taxes. Georgia was cited as a state with an existing EV fee above gasoline taxes.
Add to this analysis that some buyers received credits or tax breaks to buy their vehicles, so they had an advantage to change to an EV technology. One hand gives and one takes.
Real use of taxes: What if road taxes are not used for roads? One report says that 31 states divert road taxes for other uses, some divert as much as a third of the taxes. North Carolina is reported to divert three percent to sidewalks and bike lanes. Georgia diverts more than 13 percent to schools. Others divert lots more. (Source)
We note that SC’s Governor vetoed a road tax increase last year because, “Over one‐fourth of your gas‐tax dollars are not used for road repairs … They’re siphoned off for government agency overhead and programs that have nothing to do with roads.” (Source)
Backward steps: Advocates for EV and climate containment argue that excessive fees discourage adoption of EVs. An EV industry group says, “EV fees represent a misguided public policy that places a higher tax burden on the vehicles with low- or zero emissions. Why would we disincentivize vehicles that eliminate tailpipe emissions?”
There’s no answer, not in one blog. Perhaps the debate can be used to clarify how the taxes and fees are actually used and how to approach a world that values reduced or no-carbon transportation.