Kansas Considers Taxing Electric Car Owners When They Plug In

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Ecotality Blink Level 2 residential charging station for electric cars

Ecotality Blink Level 2 residential charging station for electric cars

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The state of Kansas is famous for a lot of things, from its wild sunflowers and large wheat-fields through to its miles and miles of straight roads, an incredibly flat landscape, and a certain 1939 musical about a little girl, a tornado, and her dog. 

This week however, Kansas became one of the first states in the country to consider taxing electric cars.

Enter Rep. Tom Sloane (R), who argued earlier in the week at a House Energy and Utilities Committee hearing that the state must start taxing electric car drivers. Without a tax, he said, the state’s road and bridge network could suffer.

His reasoning? 

Currently, Kansas -- like many other states -- collects funds in the form of a gasoline tax which is levied at the gas station on every gallon of gasoline purchased. Part of this tax is then used to fund new road-building projects, while the rest ensures the state’s existing roads are kept in good order. 

If everyone starts driving electric cars, Sloane says, the proceeds of Kansas’ gasoline tax will no-longer be sufficient to maintain and build roads.

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

2011 Chevrolet Volt charging port

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Similar concerns have been voiced in other states. But unlike the additional $100 annual electric car license fee that legislators have been battling over in the state of Washington for the past year, Sloane wants electric car drivers to pay “less than 1¢ of tax” for each kilowatt-hour of electricity used to charge their cars.

“I believe that such vehicles should pay the equivalent of the motor fuels tax so that they do not “ride free” when gasoline/diesel vehicles pay to maintain the system,” said Sloane. 

In order to do this, Sloane proposes that electric car owners have two electricity meters installed in their homes: one to record domestic power consumption, and one to record electric car power consumption. Electricity used to charge electric cars would then be taxed at a higher rate by the utility companies, with the proceeds passed back to the state.  

Although Sloane hasn’t detailed exactly what his sub-1¢ tax rate would be, a 1¢ tax per kilowatt-hour would equate to a 12 percent tax at average Kansas electricity rates, while a 0.5¢ tax would be equivalent to a 6 percent additional tax. 

At current gas prices in the state, gasoline is taxed at around 7 percent.

BMW Active-E charging

BMW Active-E charging

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During a hearing on Tuesday, General Motors spokesman Lindsay Douglas informed the House committee that at present, only 24 Chevrolet Volts were registered in the state, arguing that the proposed tax would hamper efforts to support electric vehicle sales in the state. 

“If we’re not being shown that there’s backing behind this by the state legislatures, why would we want to continue supporting this technology and pushing forward if what we’re being told is, we’re going to tax this to its death before it gets a chance to survive?” questioned Douglas.

We can't help but agree. With so few electric cars in Kansas at present, it would take many years before electric vehicles were so numerous in the state that the gas-tax proceeds suffered. 

While we believe that it is only fair for electric car owners to pay something towards the upkeep of the roads they drive on, we think a yearly flat fee might be more appropriate -- not to mention cheaper to implement than the installation of two electricity meters in every home that has an electric car. 

The committee took no action on Sloane’s bill, but doubt remains on whether the bill will proceed past this stage or not. 

Until then, all we can do is add Kansas to our increasing list of states considering taxing plug-in vehicle owners. 


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Comments (15)
  1. This seems like an incredibly bad way to tax EVs (which I know is needed eventually).

    Imagine having two outlets in your garage. One is connected to the taxed electricity meter and the other is attached to the untaxed meter. There is no way to police which one you plug into. Also, when you go to grandma's house and plug in, there is no way to collect the tax.

    Add to that the additional cost and complexity and I don't think this is the right approach.

    Here in Massachusetts there is a required annual inspection (annoying but necessary, I am afraid). During this process they record the car's mileage. That could be transmitted to the state along with the vehicle weight. Then a tax based on mileage and weight could be levied.

  2. Taxing all vehicles each year according to weight and miles driven would work much better than what they are proposing in Kansas. Does Sloan have any idea how problematic and costly it would prove to wire and install each EV household with two separate meters? Doh-oh! I seriously doubt the 1 cent per kilowatt tax would ever cover that initial expense.

    Another idea that I have proposed many times is to shift the tax for all vehicles from fuel sales to... tire sales. No matter the drivetrain --gasoline, diesel, electricity, hydrogen, air, flywheel-- all vehicles use tires. More tires and/or more miles driven = more tax. Base the revenue on how much rubber meets the road. Done!

  3. Or, just charge at your neighbor's house who doesn't have the special meter to avoid the tax. Sheesh - it does look like they want to sell meters.

  4. Shifting the taxes to tires will cause people to delay the purchase of tires, leading to increased tire failures, thus more accidents. Either taxing on fuel, to taxing based on utilization (i.e. Mileage) are sensible alternatives. just because they are electric does not mean they don't use the same roads as conventional vehicles.

  5. Talk of taxation is way premature. Early adopters are paying a high price and need support to get this revolution started.

  6. You missed the point again; Darn, when will you learn that politicians are paid by companies to hawk their products and make laws in their favor. You think this guy is for better roads when all he is doing is helping a company sell more meters.

  7. I agree the Kansas representative's proposal seems ill conceived for the reasons cited above. Here's a question - if a person installs a solar array to charge their electric vehicle, would they still be required to meter that electricity and report it for tax purposes?

  8. Actually Kansas is a red state. Republicans tipped their hand here because they want to give tax breaks to large corporations yet tax owners of EV's because they are most likely considered to be tree hugging lefties. Its a case of red state versus blue state mentallity. The GOP wants to discourage people from buying EV's and putting an extra tax on those who charge their electric vehicles is meant to discourage EV sales from happening in the first place. Republicans are conservatives and they want to prevent EV's from ever becoming becoming mainstream. Yet they will give billions of dollars in tax breaks to oil companies. Hypocrites.

  9. You're taxing for road use, so yes, in a perfect world, there would be a meter measuring how much electricity is used to charge a vehicle regardless of the source of eletricity.

    Practically, how do you tax for charging when the vehicle is not at home?

  10. How many dollars have to be spent to build out billing infrastructure and compliance teams - along with additional meters at $100-250 each to do this?

    Why not just do it at annual inspection time and integrate it into the price paid for registration and require capturing of miles of the vehicle.

    Chevy Volt - the car can use gas but also tracks how many miles are used in EV-mode which could be recorded during registration.

    They're doing a lot now with very little. A few dozen to hundred cars are registered in the state. This is a pittance compared to the volume of gas taxes out there. Are they going after Prius owners also who go 50mpg while their neighbor drives a 12mpg pickup truck or 15mpg poorly maintained older car?

  11. Basically it is two data points. Is car an EV? Y/N If Y - how many EV miles driven this year (enter number). Pay registration fee based on base fee + miles*.01. 10,000 miles would be $100. Something like that.

  12. Put a small charge on tires purchases and every vehicle owner whether gasoline or electric powered will have to pay it. Toll roads funding too could be used to support maitanence of the roads. Counting vehicles has been done with sensors in the road and this could help determine how much funding should be used to maintain a highway system. Remember that gasoline will still be the main fuel powering transportation for many years in the future and lots will be made off it for road support so I could see a day with electric vehicles becoming more mainstream and thus having a fee put on their vehicle registration to help pay for roads since they do not use gasoline and especially if they become like 10% of the total vehicles registered.

  13. and who would foot the cost of the additional meter? that cost alone should cover the lifetime of the first battery pack!

  14. As a resident of Topeka Kansas, I think this is a very silly way of taxing EV usage.

    Just eliminate the gas tax and tax all vehicles yearly based on mileage and weight for all cars when you renew your tags. Of course you could just register the car in a state that doesn't tax electric cars and you'd be able to avoid the tax altogether.

    Or... or... you could privatize roads...

  15. Yeah, that makes sense, let us also tax cars that are more efficient. A car that gets 50 miles per gallon pays half the tax that a care that gets 25 miles to the gallon. Kansas, is that fair? Anyone getting more that say 12 miles to the gallon, should have to pay more road tax.
    You're not in Kansas any more...

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