EV Owners in Washington State Soon to Pay $100 Annual Fee

By · December 26, 2012

Downtown Seattle

Beginning on February 1, 2013, owners of electric vehicle in the state of Washington will be required to pay a $100 annual fee to compensate for money the state loses in yearly gas taxes. The fee will be used for road and highway improvements. The law only applied to pure electric cars—not conventional or plug-in hybrid vehicles, such as the Toyota Prius and Chevy Volt.

About 1,600 vehicles are likely to be taxed in 2013. Owners of these vehicles—which include more than 1,000 Nissan LEAFs, a few Tesla Roadsters, and a handful of converted electrics—will be required to obtain a special registration, with the fee of $100 collected at the time of their annual renewal.

Supporters say that electric vehicles are beneficial from an environmental point of view, but that roads nonetheless deteriorate and need upkeep. Those against the law include most electric vehicle owners who argue that they already pay taxes on electricity and should not be subjected to an added fee.

Washington motorists pay a 37.5 cents per gallon gas tax, which is the state's largest source of transportation dollars. It costs the average driver about $200 a year—if calculated based on driving roughly 12,000 miles in a vehicle that gets 23 mpg.

"$100 isn't that big of a deal, but it's not well-balanced policy. EV drivers really want to pay their fair share but it seems ridiculous from a policy standpoint," said Jay Friedland, legislative director for Plug In America, a California-based electric vehicle advocacy group, in an interview with Associated Press. "The state, on the one hand, has given out sales tax exemptions to encourage residents to buy more electric vehicles, while charging the fee on the other hand."

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