AZ Legislator Proposes Per-Mile Electric Vehicle Tax

Tom Warne Report, 10 February 2012 – February 7, 2012

An Arizona lawmaker has proposed a possible way to make up for the decline in fuel tax revenue as more drivers turn to electric vehicles. Rep. Steve Farley is suggesting a tax on electric car owners of up to 1.43 cents per mile. The proposed fee is still far less than drivers of gasoline vehicles pay – with gas prices at $3.50 per gallon, a driver paying 1.43 cents per mile would have to drive about 244 miles to incur taxes equivalent to one gallon of gas, which would make the tax about half as expensive as the electricity needed to power a Nissan Leaf.

Arizona has recently eradicated other incentives for buying electric vehicles. Last month, the state repealed a lower vehicle emissions program designed to cut emissions that was patterned after California’s rules after just one year in effect. The state government voted to instead match federal greenhouse-gas regulations. Oregon has been studying per-mile fees as well, while Washington and Kansas are also looking at special electric car taxes.

The article has the math wrong but the principle is relevant; I think these discussions are good. None of them will be the perfect solution to this issue of taxing PEVs or ZEVs but they are a start. Taxing roadway usage is one issue while considering the environmental impacts of such vehicles is another. Pure analysis requires analysis of the carbon emissions generated by the power plant producing the electricity used to charge these vehicles. Efforts to protect and preserve our environment and reduce emissions and carbon consumption are good and need to be pursued. But it is hard to be totally “green” because processes that emit are what create the opportunity to be “green.” Everything needs to be looked at in its totality. TW

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