A Reminder: WA Electric Car Owners Pay $100 Tax From 2013

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Drag race between Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf electric cars (The Fast Lane)

Drag race between Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf electric cars (The Fast Lane)

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If you live in Washington State, the cost of driving an electric car is set to go up in February next year.

Not by a lot, it has to be said--but in an effort to get electric car owners to pay their share for the upkeep of roads and bridges, Washington electric car drivers will start paying an additional $100 yearly tax.

The measure comes into force from February 1, 2013, and CBS Seattle estimates that around 1,600 electric cars in the state will be affected.

That includes Nissan Leafs, Tesla Roadsters and some custom-built electric vehicles, but excludes hybrids and plug-ins like the Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid, and also the range-extended Chevrolet Volt. Neighborhood electric vehicles which cannot exceed 35 mph are also exempt.

Owners will pay the $100 fee at the same time as their annual registration renewal, in addition to regular registration fees.

There have been mixed feelings from electric car owners, but supporters reason that regardless of how little gas an electric car consumes, it still contributes to wear and tear on roadways.

Electric car owners will still pay less tax per mile in most cases. As we noted earlier in 2012, Washington's tax rate on a gallon of gas is 37.5 cents (in addition to the federal 18.4c/gallon).

15,000 miles in a Toyota Prius at 50 mpg would result in taxes of $112.50 per year. A 30 mpg car would be nearer $187.50 over the same distance.

In an electric car, that $100 is irrespective of distance--so the greater mileage you drive, the better value you're getting for your $100.

What do you think of Washington's new flat tax rate for electric cars... and its exemption for cars like the Chevy Volt and Prius Plug-In?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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Comments (19)
  1. deja vu. I converted my Citroen Mehari to use propane fuel back in the early '70's. Supposedly to promote the use of alternative fuels, they removed the road tax off of the the fuel, but slapped a $60 fee onto the registration. At the mileage I was putting on, and the fuel economy I had, it cost more to pay this fee than I would have paid in the road tax on fuel. WA... land of fees to raise tax money.

  2. I drive a Leaf in Maryland, and I would have no problem paying my fair share of road taxes. I would prefer it be based on miles driven, but if the state wanted to charge a flat fee discounted down from what ICE drivers are paying, so be it. Maybe the savings could account for the environmental damage not being caused by my Leaf.

  3. I live in CA and just paid $6400 sales tax for my new Tesla Model S. I would gladly pay the $100/yr road tax in exchange for the WA sales tax exemption for EVs.

  4. This is just another example of ridiculous taxation in US (and in many other countries). Some states and federal goverment give EV owners tax break and others charge them additional taxed. Why thousands people have to get tax credit and pay tax for exacly the same thing (owning an EV)? Can't the Obama administration pay directly to WA state for the EV road use and reduce the EV tax credit?

    "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax." Albert Einstein

  5. Two different ideas about 'green' ($$$$ vs ecology) in the Green State. By contrast, in the Netherlands, the city of Amsterdam will BUILD (at government's expense) a personal recharging station in front. Of the residence of anyone who buys a Leaf! Hope USA governments can get on the right 'green' road.

  6. There is no such thing as "the government's expense". The dutch people pay for that. "The Government Expense" = money out of the dutch people's pocket + government bureaucracy + taxpayer money required for construction. A car in Amsterdam is an unnecessary luxury. If you take a bike you are not using electricity or petrol, and you work off all of those fries and mayo that the dutch snack on all day. And it doesn't cost the Dutch taxpayers a Euro.

  7. @Walthall: WA has mandated installation of EV Charge Station at all Highway Rest-Stops, but will not allocate any funding for the project. (Thus no EVSE installations at hwy rest-areas)

    However, no complaints as WAshington and ORegon has the best highway EV infrastructure in USA for Level 2 AC & CHAdeMO DC-QC.

    CHAdeMO.com – Global Map: http://is.gd/03ZT6O

  8. If I have to pay the 100 bucks then the fossil fuel burners need to pay for their disgusting polution that I have to breath.

  9. This is pretty dumb...typical knee-jerk government reasoning. Electric cars "exempt" themselves from the gas tax, but they can't "exempt" themselves from the tax on electricity used in the home. Every watt of electricity used in the home (or anywhere) has a state tax attached to it. Electric cars raise amount of electricity consumed in the homes of electric car owners quite a bit. Washington state would essentially be double-dipping into electric car owners pockets. This is hardly FAIR (whatever fair means).

  10. you said it yourself. its unfair to low mileage drivers and Volt drivers who rarely buy gas.

  11. As an EV owner I am fine with this.

    It is not taxes we are trying to avoid. It is using gasoline that we are trying to avoid.

    $100/year is a fair rate that is consistent with (and probably lower then) what an average driver pays in state gasoline taxes in a year.

  12. Why gasoline in particular...by avoiding gasoline means using natural gas and the ultimate no-no, coal. The people of Washington are getting their pocketbooks taxed twice by paying taxes on electricity and then paying tax to own an electric car. That isn't fair, and I don't see your reasoning in justifying being taxed twice. If you don't have any problem being taxed twice, then more power to you. The people of Washington need to know that they are being taxed twice for the wrong reasons. Maybe you should voluntarily empty your pocket to the government and leave the rest of us alone.

  13. @Usov: WA has no state income-tax, thus no way to offer state tax credits.

  14. This is an EV "Registration Renewal Fee" (gov pun?), so will only apply to existing owners, and not new owners of electric vehicles designed for speeds greater than 38 MPH. (i.e. excludes NEVs, as well as PHEVs)

    What is interesting, is the $100 renewal fee to applies to City of Seattle's 72- year old electric trolley bus fleet. The Emerald City's 159 electric trolley's are only vehicle suitable for stop-go climbing of step city hills! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolleybuses_in_Seattle

    btw: Find it interesting that EVs pay alt. fuel fee (vs fuel-road tax), but CNG, Hydrogen, or Bio-fueled vehicles were not also accessed a registration fee in place of gas tax for road maintenance.

  15. "What do you think of Washington's new flat tax rate for electric cars... and its exemption for cars like the Chevy Volt and Prius Plug-In?"

    Who says "fuel tax" is fair? Fuel tax is NEVER fair. Why should a heavier but more fuel efficient Prius pay less tax than a lighter but less efficient regular ICE?

    Fuel tax is a terribly designed tax to start with. It should have been taxed based on usage and damage level due to weight and tire sizes/type. However, due to privacy issues, there are no way that we allow the government to keep a tap on how much miles we drive per year, so we accept the tax based on gas consumption.

    Plugin hybrids are even harder to figure out. They do "fill out", just less than average Hybrids...

  16. I guess they can't do this for all the plug-in hybrids since technically the owners would buy some gas each year and pay taxes that way.... another reason to get a plug-in hybrid or E-REV.


  17. It makes sense since pure EV drivers are not paying the road use tax that ICE drivers do when they buy fuel. It sounds like they did it in a reasonable way but I would like to have seen them hold off implementing this for a few years to really let EVs take hold. Still, considering that it's about one tank of gas in an SUV, it's practically chump change over a year's driving to an EV driver.

  18. Its an unfair burden, we pay registration on an already inflated value of our vehicles. My ActiveE is valued at $58k while its ICE equivalent is valued at $35k. Registration is already supposed to pay for road use. The burden of electric vehicles is minimal on the infrastructure. If such a measure or a mileage tax came to California, I would gladly vote out any politician that approved it.

  19. It should be based on how many miles you drive. The one I'm bidding on has less than 1500 miles on a five year old car

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