Classic: States debate taxing green cars to recover lost gas tax revenue

posted at 9:21 pm on June 13, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

So, the government interferes in the market by incentivizing its citizens to buy hybrid and electric with big ol’ tax credits. It’ll be great for consumers and the environment, they say! You’ll save money and the air, it will be sweet with good intentions. But then people actually bought those electric and hybrid cars, car manufacturers responded to government mandates and consumer pushes for increased gas mileage, and the economy and gas prices dictated that a bunch of people start watching how much they drive. And, now you’ve got a revenue problem, what with far less money coming in the form of gas taxes.

What’s a state government to do? Well, certainly not remove its grimy hands from the mix for half a second to see what the natural state of the market might bring. Certainly not start making rational decisions about how to use this declining revenue as efficiently as possible. Certainly not stop raiding infrastructure funds for whatever they damn well please before coming to citizens for more taxes (Hi, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley). No, no, no, now they gotta tax those green cars that they got you to buy with those tax incentives in the first place! Sorry, suckahs! Shoulda known any deal with the devil was bound to burn up:

SAN FRANCISCO (Bloomberg) — Hybrid and electric cars are sparing the environment. Critics say they’re hurting the roads.

The popularity of these fuel-efficient vehicles is being blamed for a drop in gasoline taxes that pay for local highway and bridge maintenance, with three states enacting rules to make up the losses with added fees on the cars and at least five others weighing similar legislation.

“The intent is that people who use the roads pay for them,” said Arizona state Senator Steve Farley, a Democrat from Tucson who wrote a bill to tax electric cars. “Just because we have somebody who is getting out of doing it because they have an alternative form of fuel, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t pay for the roads.”

I’m somewhat sympathetic to the notion that, because gas taxes pay for roads, it’s unfair for those who aren’t buying gas to get what critics call a literal free ride. This problem is more pronounced with bike riders who argue for reconfiguration of entire cities’ roads without throwing a whole bunch in the pot. But the larger point is how elaborately stupid, counterproductive, and at odds with itself idiotic governments become in using our money to push for one policy with subsidized products, only to turn around and complain that all those subsidies are costing them money. Um, yes, that’s what we were saying years ago when you started subsidizing these cars with thousands of our dollars and lecturing us about how awesome it was going to be. STEP AWAY FROM THE RUBE GOLDBERG MACHINES IN YOUR MINDS. YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING.

Here’s what the tax structure looks like at the moment in states trying this. The prices are low-ish now, but please don’t be silly enough to think they’re not going up:

In Washington state, electric-car owners this year began paying a $100 annual fee. Virginia in April approved a $64 annual fee on hybrid and electric cars.

In New Jersey, Senator Jim Whelan, a Democrat from Atlantic City, has proposed a $50 annual fee on electric and compressed natural-gas cars that would be deposited into a state fund for road and bridge maintenance…

In Arizona, Farley’s measure, which has stalled, would impose a tax on electric cars of 1 cent per mile driven on the state’s highways, amounting to about $120 annually per car, he said. Texas lawmakers considered a similar bill this year.

In Indiana, lawmakers created a committee to study a local road impact fee on electric and hybrid cars to be paid at registration.

North Carolina’s Senate on May 23 approved a budget plan that includes a $100 fee for electric cars and $50 for hybrid cars, said Amy Auth, deputy chief of staff for Phil Berger, Senate president pro tempore. The plan has gone to the House for review, she said.

I look forward to the taxing of non-smokers to make up for all that lost tobacco tax revenue, too.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Aha! The penny just dropped! Now I understand why Obama said gas would go up to 7$ a gallon!

My My, who’da thunk it?

We am skrewed…

Scrumpy on June 13, 2013 at 9:25 PM

Progs never think things thru to the end…

And we get left paying the fricking bills!

Politicians are all Scrunts!

Scrumpy on June 13, 2013 at 9:27 PM

Whoever didn’t see this coming deserves to have a Prius dropped on them.

Left Coast Right Mind on June 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM

We should all stop eating drinking driving smoking and buying anything for a 24 hr period and listen to them squeal!!!

Scrumpy on June 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM

We are ruled by fricking IDIOTS!!!!

Scrumpy on June 13, 2013 at 9:29 PM

…phuck ‘em!

KOOLAID2 on June 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM

LMAO! You just can’t make this stuff up!

bernzright777 on June 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM

If they could the gd govts. fed, state and local, would hold us upside down by the ankles and shake out every penney they could. And then go through a metal detector just to ensure.

arnold ziffel on June 13, 2013 at 9:30 PM

Smug prius drivers hardest hit. HAHAHAHAHA!

VegasRick on June 13, 2013 at 9:31 PM

I guess being “Green” means being fined for not having a large carbon footprint..

Electrongod on June 13, 2013 at 9:31 PM

Wifey: ‘Your hybrid doesn’t use enough gas so they have to tax the car.’

Hubby: ‘I coulda had a V-8.’

Resist We Much on June 13, 2013 at 9:33 PM

I’m of a seriously-split mind on this. On the one hand, the gas tax is a rather inefficient way of paying for roads. Why should I get to pay twice as much as someone gingerly driving a hybrid the same distance as me because I drive a pickup due to the need to occassionally haul items beyond the capability of a hybrid?

On the other, a special tax on hybrids and electrics not only is less-than-fair, but not enough.

It’s even worse if it’s a per-mile tax (I don’t trust government with the amount of miles I drive).

Steve Eggleston on June 13, 2013 at 9:34 PM

well, I learned a new word tonight: SCRUNT! and oh, I WILL be using it in my daily life. the next fat@$$ in front of me at Walgreens that takes 10 hours to put the change back in her purse on the counter while I got 50 things in my hands…..SCRRRRRRRRRRRRRRUNT!

GhoulAid on June 13, 2013 at 9:36 PM

There’s the Gas Guzzling Tax..
Now there is the Gas Sipping Tax..

“you can’t do a little, ’cause you can’t do enough”

Electrongod on June 13, 2013 at 9:37 PM

The taxman cometh.

Oldnuke on June 13, 2013 at 9:37 PM

They have been talking about this for years, now.

wolly4321 on June 13, 2013 at 9:44 PM

Does this mean my gas guzzling SUV will be cheaper to run?

lonestar1 on June 13, 2013 at 9:45 PM

I calcdicted this would happen.

SparkPlug on June 13, 2013 at 9:55 PM

I look forward to the taxing of non-smokers to make up for all that lost tobacco tax revenue, too.

Well-played.

John the Libertarian on June 13, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Soon pedestrians will be pay tax because they didn’t consume enough gas to feed the coffers of the political pigs.

SparkPlug on June 13, 2013 at 9:58 PM

What’s a state government to do?

Oh I’m sure they’ll come up with some sort of Vehicle tax rate table; also known as road tax.

BDU-33 on June 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM

And when smart thermostats are enforced resulting in reduced electricity consumption, prices will “necessarily” increase.

**NSA approval of this message pending.**

can_con on June 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Reminds of the description of government by Ronald Maximus Reagan: If it’s moving, tax it. If it’s still moving, regulate it. If it’s stopped moving, subsidize it.

John the Libertarian on June 13, 2013 at 10:00 PM

And maybe we should start taxing the Amish, too.

djaymick on June 13, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Time for a mileage tax right? Of course they wouldnt repeal the state or federal fuel taxes.

Taxed to perfection!

tom daschle concerned on June 13, 2013 at 10:10 PM

Awwww….the poor ‘greenies’ will now have to pay for their Nirvana. Look for protests in 3….2….1.

GarandFan on June 13, 2013 at 10:13 PM

This is too funny. I think there is about to be an avalanche of “I told you so’s” from the last 6 years.

Ellis on June 13, 2013 at 10:27 PM

using our money to push for one policy with subsidized products, only to turn around and complain that all those subsidies are costing them money.

With all “green” policies: In our little suburb, we were told to conserve water because of a supposed drought. We watered only after 6 p.m. We followed all the rules. Then the water district, after it was all over, said, thanks for conserving, but that cost us money cuz you reduced consumption, so we are raising your rates! As allowed by law!

Won’t be fooled again.

PattyJ on June 13, 2013 at 10:45 PM

What’s a state government to do? Well, certainly not remove its grimy hands from the mix for half a second to see what the natural state of the market might bring. Certainly not start making rational decisions about how to use this declining revenue as efficiently as possible. Certainly not stop raiding infrastructure funds for whatever they damn well please before coming to citizens for more taxes

Is there anyway to write this up as a Constitutional Amendment?

We saw the same thing on our water bills this summer: because we are under drought restrictions, we have to use less water by cutting back on “allowed” uses; because we are using less water, they are raising the rates on what we do use.

And when smart thermostats are enforced resulting in reduced electricity consumption, prices will “necessarily” increase.

can_con on June 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM

It’s already happening.

Soon pedestrians will be pay tax because they didn’t consume enough gas to feed the coffers of the political pigs.

SparkPlug on June 13, 2013 at 9:58 PM

Probably already in the works, as soon as someone figures out how to do it (shoe taxes? because you wear them out faster?)

One more argument in favor of replacing the Income Tax with a Sales Tax structure; the tax on goods would be applied to the cost of transporting them, kind of an indirect gas tax.

Oh I’m sure they’ll come up with some sort of Vehicle tax rate table; also known as road tax.

BDU-33 on June 13, 2013 at 9:59 PM

This actually makes the most sense; however, our license fees (which we pay in addition to gas taxes) are already supposed to be funding roads.

AesopFan on June 13, 2013 at 10:51 PM

I’d feel better about this if the road tax money actually went to the roads…

trigon on June 13, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Get ready for Toll Booths every 100 yards!

xdwall on June 13, 2013 at 10:55 PM

Followed by the NSA contacting you when you don’t show up for work to ask why you didn’t drive your mandated number of miles today!

xdwall on June 13, 2013 at 10:58 PM

How ’bout a tax on healthy youngsters to fund meddling in Healthcare?

Oh, wait…..

cthulhu on June 13, 2013 at 11:48 PM

Whoever didn’t see this coming deserves to have a Prius dropped on them.

Left Coast Right Mind on June 13, 2013 at 9:28 PM

I sense a new Top Gear episode….

“you can’t do a little, ’cause you can’t do enough”

Electrongod on June 13, 2013 at 9:37 PM

Who knew Sid and Marty Krofft were so, errr, forward thinking?

BillH on June 13, 2013 at 11:56 PM

Oh, cry me a river.
These cars also receive rebates or tax breaks from fed, state, or local govt.

I like the irony of charging them a [tiny] annual fee.

freedomfirst on June 14, 2013 at 12:48 AM

The popularity of these fuel-efficient vehicles is being blamed for a drop in gasoline taxes that pay for local highway and bridge maintenance, with three states enacting rules to make up the losses with added fees on the cars and at least five others weighing similar legislation.

They don’t save that much on gas.

I think it’s really two things: Gas is more than many people can really afford, so they’re driving less and so many millions are unemployed or underemployed they have no workplace to drive to 5 or more days a week…or money to go and spend at various businesses.

Dr. ZhivBlago on June 14, 2013 at 1:19 AM

LOL take that you environmental wiggies. Looking all cool in a car that would just shatter hitting a bikecycle on contact… thinking your all high and mighty…. yeah… now you get to see what we all been talking about.

Next , taxes on the alternative fuel makers to make up for the shortfall.

watertown on June 14, 2013 at 1:31 AM

There will come a tipping point on the real-estate tax relief for solar panels too… Oh, not yet though cause they want to let more people make the investment first. But you just know it’s in their long plan.

And to answer the question… who’ll kill the electric car this time? The tax man.

RalphyBoy on June 14, 2013 at 2:00 AM

Only the government could invent cars which can’t get you to work and back without a 6-hour stopover, cost 2-3 times what other cars cost, and catch fire when their batteries get wet!!!

And it’s not like they weren’t warned: electric cars today have EXACTLY THE SAME BASIC PROBLEMS that they had when they were first invented 100 years ago!!!

Government is not only stupid, but is also an extremely slow learner.

It’s time to pull the plug on hybrid subsidies…along with other costly, inefficient, and ineffective “green” adventures like windmills (another old technology which was discarded by intelligent people 100 years ago) and solar cells (which degrade in sunlight and cost more per KWH during their life cycle than any other earth-based power system).

Hint to greenies: Have you ever wondered why farmers quit using windmills long ago? Have you ever seen a 30 year old solar cell which still works?

landlines on June 14, 2013 at 2:40 AM

“(If you drive a car ), I’ll tax the street,
(If you try to sit ), I’ll tax your seat,
(If you get too cold ), I’ll tax the heat,
(If you take a walk ), I’ll tax your feet.” Taxman, Beatles

stop2think on June 14, 2013 at 6:44 AM

And the government spent how much of OUR money to reduce this revenue ?

It appears the the Greenies will have to pay up to have their way. Good !

Jabberwock on June 14, 2013 at 7:01 AM

Create a “problem,” then offer a “solution.” Job security! Thank Gaia for us!

RobertMN on June 14, 2013 at 7:42 AM

I look forward to the taxing of non-smokers to make up for all that lost tobacco tax revenue, too.

ObamaCare…

Rusty Bill on June 14, 2013 at 9:41 AM

I can’t wait to see city governments install odometers on all those stupid “city rental” bicycles.

“Terribly sorry, but we didn’t realize that wasting millions on bicycles would mean that we can’t collect your fair share of taxes. We have a solution though…”

Komsomoletz on June 14, 2013 at 10:14 AM

They should start taxing for carpooling as well. It results in people getting a free ride. \s

weaselyone on June 14, 2013 at 10:15 AM

The federal government has been on this for years now. Ed wrote an article about a year ago about a study at the University of Minnesota (following similar studies at the University of Iowa) where people were having their cars fitted with GPS & cell systems to track mileage and allow for a per mile tax on cars. The cell phone system transfers the data at regular intervals for “convenience”.

Why they couldn’t use that low tech thing called an odometer I don’t know, but given what we know know about the NSA etc, does anyone want the federal government capable of also tracking everywhere their car goes and transmitting the data by cell phone system… for “convenience”?

taznar on June 14, 2013 at 10:41 AM

I’m confused here. Are they using math or arithmetic to come by this proposal?

44Magnum on June 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM

These states are absolutely criminal in the way they go after your wallet. When you try to debate them about revenue from alternate-fuel vehicles, they say “We’re getting ZERO gas tax revenue from electric vehicles…” That’s deceitful in the extreme, because you can count the number of all-electric vehicles on the road with one hand and have ALL of your fingers left over. There aren’t any. It’s the hybrids that they want to screw over!

olesparkie on June 14, 2013 at 12:21 PM

We have a very Liberal friend who decided he drove too much to keep paying over $3 a gallon for gas. He bought himself a hybrid Camery a couple of years ago. I looked at one, too, but the battery took up too much space in the trunk. I was not impressed when I found out the batteries were made in Canada and they cause much pollution around the work area. However, Canadians didn’t seem to mind, probably because they didn’t know about it. I am not a greenie, but if you are going to make a toxic mess make sure you clean it up. Not only that, but to replace those batteries was about $5,000. To me, it was not worth the extra money to buy one of these things. I also thought Obama would be gone in ’12 and we could get back to being normal and prosperous again. LOL. That really worked out.

So when I did get a new car, it was a gasoline powered one and have been just as happy with it. It’s fairly decent on gas and I don’t drive that much anyway. It does frustrate me to have to bow to rising gas prices. When I registered my new car, I had to change license plates and fill out new forms and one of the questions was how your car was powered. Oh-oh. That didn’t sit well with me at all because I was thinking there would be a tax raise. Well, there was, but it wasn’t me. It was on hybrids and our Lib friend got socked with it. He claims it was $500, but you know Libs, always lying. He wrote a scathing letter to his local paper and not more than two weeks later—-shazam! VA got the highest tax hike in their history for what, you ask? For transportation. BTW, we just primaried out two of the main Republican Delegates for voting for it. If we can do it so can the rest of the country/state. Primary these serial tax raisers!

BetseyRoss on June 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM

One cent per mile seems about right. Most of us are paying at least 50-60 cents per gallon in federal and state taxes.

Roads and bridges don’t build themselves and don’t repair themselves. I don’t see any reason why drivers of plug-in electric cars and those powered with compressed natural gas (CNG) shouldn’t pay their fair share.

J Baustian on June 14, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Regarding odometers to measure vehicle usage: I think the engine control computer keeps an accurate measure of vehicle usage even if the odometer is replaced or tampered with.

J Baustian on June 14, 2013 at 11:02 PM