• Mar 24th 2011 at 11:49AM
  • 64
Opting to buy a battery-powered, all-electric vehicle not only frees your vehicle of tailpipe emissions. It also means owners of plug-ins don't have to pay gas taxes, right? Well, for residents of the states of Washington, Oregon and Texas, that sort of depends on whether or not soon-to-be introduced legislation to establish Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) taxes for electric vehicles gets passed into law.

Instead of taxing fuel to finance road infrastructure, a VMT tax system charges motorists based on their "road consumption," as measured by total miles traveled. VMT could be implemented via the use of GPS units, which records distance traveled and charges motorist accordingly.

Unsurprisingly, as with other taxes, VMT has its critics. Some motorists see VMT systems tracking your every move as an invasion of privacy. Others claim that VMT could become a roadblock that hinders the adoption of electric vehicle. Some even argue that the tax is unfair because it singles out a single type of vehicle. What's your take?

[Source: Plugin Cars]

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      the title seems just a tad dishonest and trolling, Eric : )

      as for road taxing which this seems to be, I don't like the bureaucracy of it, the cost overhead and the eternal awareness that driving will cost you. it's like an internet connection you pay by the minute, it's horrible. I get the justice of it but it's a bad idea
        • 4 Years Ago
        Rip off the gas taxes, and tax all cars by weight. Problem solved.
        • 4 Years Ago
        that's bs though sir vix. by that you justify everything. nazism. bushism. usa. you have to look with better eyes than that.
        JFK wasn't killed by justice. neither was his brother. evil reached out because it wanted its wars. and USA is proud to serve.
        • 4 Years Ago
        For once, I actually agree with Dan. Not only is it a bunch of expensive red tape as Dan points out, but it definately would be seen as an innapropriate invasion of privacy, even if it only sent back the number of miles. If it is the number of miles, why would they need a GPS? Why couldn't they just tie it to the odometer or check the odometer when it is time to renew registration? By the way, does anyone know how much taxes are tied into your power bill? Regardless of which pot the money goes to, it certainly would seem fair to double hit people, especially people who are trying to reduce emmissions and oil dependancy.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Gee Dan I am sure the people of Japan think the US Navy is pure evil right about now. Furthermore you have absolutely no clue about where tax dollars go given your ignorant statement.
        With regards to spending more on military than any other nation it is obvious that people are grossly ignorant to how much of the rest of the world, UN and pharma come to mind, US taxpayers subsidize.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The argument that the Government needs GPS tracking in order to apply a road tax is a bit farfetched. Yes, I understand that sometimes people drive outside of the state they're registered in, but people sometimes buy gas and pay gas tax in one state then go drive in another and we don't worry about that gas tax going to the wrong state. Paying an odometer based mileage tax for driving outside the state is much less of an imposition than the much higher cost and invasion of privacy inherent in a GPS based mileage tax.
        • 4 Years Ago
        sir vix, the thing you should be absolutely most mad about in us gov spending is the military. it is a humongous amount you spend on just pure evil. it doesn't do any good anywhere basically. just pure evil. sometimes in the guise of good like maybe libya, but they find a way to royally mess that up too. a no fly zone became shock and awe II. basically exactly the same as the iraq invasion and how great that turned out. only a million kills to get one man.
        journalists have access to Gaddafi so the fabulous CIA can't whack him? yeah right. let's bomb instead.
        a road tax is nothing by comparison.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry to go off on a tangent ...
        @Sir Vix: To say that we really need to spend as much on our military as the entire rest of the world combined is folly to say the least. If the point of our military is to defend us, then we can cut it's budget in half with no loss of actual defense.

        And stop referring to taxes as stealing. If you truly believe that a government has no right to tax it's citizens then you are either an anarchist or an idiot (or both).
        • 4 Years Ago
        One way to eliminate the need for the GPS would be to check the odometer whenever the vehicle enters and leaves the state. Then the number of miles driven in-state could be tallied and taxed, without the privacy issues of GPS.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "that's bs though sir vix. by that you justify everything. nazism. bushism. usa. you have to look with better eyes than that."

        Really dan? The existence of an army tank justifies the human idea of wanting to purge the world of jewish people? You don't understand. For all weapons to be evil, human opression in all forms must cease first. Then nobody will need weapons. My point is that a weapon doesn't make you deranged, you do.

        "JFK wasn't killed by justice. neither was his brother. evil reached out because it wanted its wars. and USA is proud to serve."

        This part is all BS retehoric that I was never implying. You know this. And what does the sentence "Evil reached out because it wanted its wars" mean? When your neighbor peter claims he is possessed by the devil and goes around the neighborhood murdering people at random, is a gun in the hand of a sound minded citizen or police officer pure evil because it is a gun?

        "sir vix, the thing you should be absolutely most mad about in us gov spending is the military."

        Maybe what I said before wasn't seen: "Dan, the 75% of the US budget that is NOT discretionary is quite bothersome to me!" Did you notice me agreeing with you?

        "@Sir Vix: To say that we really need to spend as much on our military as the entire rest of the world combined is folly to say the least. If the point of our military is to defend us, then we can cut it's budget in half with no loss of actual defense."

        So me saying that the existence of a weapon does not make that weapon evil means (to you) that I was somehow, somewhere, defending the US military budget spending. Can you please quote me? Did I also say anything along the lines of supporting the idea that people not being able to control their military's spending is GOOD? Are you on crack? Did you not read what I wrote?

        "Dan, the 75% of the US budget that is NOT discretionary is quite bothersome to me!"

        What do you think that means?

        "And stop referring to taxes as stealing. If you truly believe that a government has no right to tax it's citizens then you are either an anarchist or an idiot (or both)."

        If you believe that my lack of support for EV related road taxes, which stems from my belief that we are already taxed well enough, and the money is spent very innefficiently, can somehow be taken as a belief that ALL TAXES have NO RIGHT to be imposed, then the idiot is not me. Taxes ARE stealing by nature, which should help most intelligent human beings want to keep such things in check. How many years have taxes been increasing? About 200?

        Wow guys. Remember that assumptions are the enemy of intelligence!

        • 4 Years Ago
        Dan, the 75% of the US budget that is NOT discretionary is quite bothersome to me!

        I do not believe though that a tool of destruction like a gun or a military vehicle is pure evil for existing. The day the world needs no weapons is the day that no justice is required and thus is the day that nobody wants to steal from, enslave, or opress anyone else. THEN a weapon will be evil just for existing; a weapon is a creation of the mind.
        • 4 Years Ago
        GPS is needed so it is known which state or jurisdiction is driven in. Gas taxes are issued by federal, state, county, and city. The VMT taxes would need to only charge you when you drive within the appropriate jurisdiction.

        For example, 2/3 of Oregon population is in the Portland metropolitan area which sits on the border with Washington. So if a vehicle is driving in Washington, they should not be charged Oregon road taxes.

        I personally think the VMT idea is good - except it doesn't account for fuel economy. The rates need to adjust for vehicle consumption and road damage. The formula should include vehicle weight, number of axels, and power output.

        A Smart or a Scooter do much less road damage than a Suburban.

        Oh, and add a percent or so for studded tire use. ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        The 25-40ish% income tax we all pay, plus property and sales taxes, apparently aren't enough already.

        The government's THINKING behind this tax is infuriating "Well...since we were able to steal some money from you before through your fuel purchases, we're leachy pieces of $hit and can't think of any creative ways to reduce the governmental costs to fix roads (because the government is a corporation that allows no competition) so we'll just feel that we now have the right to steal money from you regarding your vehicle in other ways"

        Only an idiocracy can create a government like this. If you don't know what an Idiocracy is, go see the movie. :)

      • 4 Years Ago
      EV users are already paying more for the additional cost of the battery of $15k - $20k+. Where I live, that would be about $750 - $1000 in additional taxes for the first year, plus $400-$600 per year more in personal property taxes. That is just for the priviledge of owning the car. The owner would be paying additional taxes for charging the vehicle.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Another problem could be when you sell a car. Would you have to settle your mileage charge account at the time of sale?
      • 4 Years Ago
      There is NOTHING they are not trying to figure out how to tax. They have spent their granchildren's inheritance, killed the economy (which is the producer of government revenues) and are facing an angry electorate. The bloated bureaucracy has to go on a crash diet, and they don't like it!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Or we could just raise taxes on the top 2% and everything would be fine.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I used to think that was a bad idea, but now I am tending to agree, Paul. The question is how do you drive the desired behavior without succumbing to the unintended consequences with your tax policy. I also firmly believe that everyone in society with any income should be a tax payer. Maybe if they share the pain, they will understand what those who produce go through and pay a little more attention to what the hell their government id doing. The present model where a continually expanding number of people are on government relief of one kind or other is unsustainable. All prosperity comes from commerce. Is the government enhancing and sustaining commerce, or are they just another dam obstruction?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The problem is, Paul, that the top 2% have political power equivalent to their wealth, and that is how they protect the status quo.
      • 2 Years Ago
      If I Fart on the road does that mean I give Free Taxing Gas to all that travel on it? I guess I better watch it, it might come back to byte me on the Ashtray. ( oh wait, Now my car doesnt have one of those). What if everyone installed a fart collection unit in their home i wonder how much energy could be saved by that, no matter how taxing it may be?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Electric cars need all the breaks they can get to get them into the public lexicon of good. They will be less then 1% of the total car population for years .I think this is premature .When they become a larger part of the vehicle mix then tax them with other type of highly efficient cars that are also paying less road tax via their declining fuel use.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Excuse me... "NOBODY (other than the bloggers) are suggesting using GPS *in EVs*!

        Whatever tests there were in Oregon for those internal combustion vehicles... never got passed into law... and are NOT being considered for this new law concerning EVs.

        I am just trying to quell the suspicion and paranoia of folks on here screaming about privacy issues. THERE ARE NO ISSUES... because only us bloggers are talking about GPS tracking.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The article is slightly misleading, at least with regard to Oregon.

        The plan is not to tax electric vehicles, but to move _all_ Oregon registered vehicles to the new form of taxing.

        The problem is simply this:

        Vehicles on average are getting more efficient. The gas tax has not been raised since the early 90s. More people are driving more miles.

        This means that there is more damage being done to roads and less revenue to maintain or improve them.

        The problem only gets worse with hybrids or electrics - as they will pay much less or zero fuel taxes. Yet they still drive on roads that need to be maintained.

        The problem with adding a simple weight fee at registration (which is not a bad idea either) is that it does not take into account how much the vehicle is driven. A person who drives 1 mile would pay the same fee as a person who drives 50,000 miles.

        So the system needs to account for:

        Miles driven within the taxing jurisdiction
        Weight per wheel

        The Oregon system would simply log miles driven in a jurisdiction, and report it at some interval. For internal combustion cars, it would be read when they fill at an Oregon fueling station. For electric cars I am not sure when it would be read. Perhaps quarterly or annually? Or perhaps could be read when plugged in at home - I don't know the plans for those.

        It is not a bad idea. But it is a change - and people always resist change.
        • 4 Years Ago
        NOBODY (other than the bloggers) are suggesting using GPS!

        At the most, they MAY look at the vehicles telemetrics* to transmit the odometer every year.

        *the part that allows you to turn on your A/C from your smartphone, and also may find charging stations using GPS.

        Otherwise, without pinning the tax to every gallon you buy... they can only gauge "miles driven" based on odometer reading. It is the downside of being independent from the gas station.

        And unless the state government wants to spend money on yearly inspections of your odometer... might as well just use the car's cellular signal to do it once a year.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "NOBODY (other than the bloggers) are suggesting using GPS!"

        Wrong. Google is your friend.

        I was involved in the Oregon test program. They equipped 300 vehicles with GPS devices which counted how much you drove in Oregon and then when you went to a gas station to fill up a machine at the station read the mileage and you paid tax on that instead of paying gasoline tax.

        Most of the articles are kind of old because it was a few years ago. But the info is there.

        Before a system like this would go live we would need to definitely work out the privacy issues.

        But the day is coming when we won't have gasoline and a gas tax will be moot. Sure, electric cars are a tiny tiny percent of sales now - but it won't be that way in 20 years and it takes a long time to write the laws and get the systems in place - so if we waited until 20 years from now to start we would be very far behind the curve.

        I ask all of the people bitching - what is your idea of how to pay for roads in a fair manner when gasoline and diesel are no longer the main fuel sources for vehicles?

        A system needs to account for differences in vehicle weight and how much you drive. So a simple registration fee based on weight won't work. And it needs to know where you drive so that your money goes to the jurisdictions that you utilize - for example the city of Portland needs money to maintain their streets but so does the state of Washington, so the system needs to make sure any place you use a street gets a cut of the money. And it needs to be a system that is non-intrusive in both privacy and convenience. We don't want to set up "odometer checks" at every jurisdiction change and we don't want detailed travel records kept.

        It is just not an easy problem to solve. Everyone likes to bitch but you all still want the potholes repaired.

        Everyone wants to have the nice roads but no one wants to pay for them. God bless America!
        • 4 Years Ago
        John the privacy issues are always a dicey issue .Instead of being obstinate what would your solution be??
        • 4 Years Ago
        If Oregon wants mandated GPS tracking for all vehicles, I won't live there.

        The ensuing warrantless data mining will result in a Big Brother situation, and I'll have nothing of it.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They should wait on this since it will cost more to implement than they will collect right now.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Exactly. Talk about such a think, once you can get at least (!) 100 million $ out of this countrywide.

        We have a road tax for EVs here in Germany (German car makers don't make them...) which is 28€ per ton weight. Well, 2010 EV sales where about 300 - makes incredible 8400€ tax...
        • 4 Years Ago
        Probably a combo of both David.

        Our highway system is in BIG need of repair. And more revenue IS needed for that. But the timing of it... reeks of being suggested by the current anti-EV industry.
        • 4 Years Ago

        You have obviously never met our governor or legislature in Washington state. Never met a tax they didn't like!

        There's a reason the eastern part of the state wants to break off and form a new state!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Do people in those states not pay any tax as part of their electricity charges?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The intent of this is pretty clear, and it's not to raise revenue or repair roads. It's a 'discouragement' tax, aka 'big oil levy', and it has been bought and paid for in campaign contributions.
      • 4 Years Ago
      You have to keep the gas tax to give tangible incentive to drive more efficient vehicles. Taxing EV's now is far too premature to make any sense other than to discourage their adoption. When it actually becomes appropriate, maybe when EV's are around 5% of all vehicles, a registration fee by weight coupled with a mileage fee levied during the yearly inspection would cover it, no need for GPS tracking.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Lots of good points made here. I would say VMT (vehicle miles traveled), vehicle weight, and time of day should all be incorporated into an equation that spits out final cost. The last figure should be used as a congestion charge to discourage people from commuting peak periods (I know slightly off topic).

      Any system that does not take mileage into account is extremely unfair to those who have decided to live closer to work and would just subsidize more sprawl and exurban development.

      Problem is the jurisdiction to jurisdiction parsing of charges add bureaucracy. I have a friend who works at the state DOT that has to figure out charges to truck drivers base on how many miles they drive in each state. It is complicated but GPS could help a lot and I'm surprised they don't use it.

      And taxes on utility bills aren't the only issue with EVs. My electric co. has a two-tiered system so the extra MWHs would cost me more since I would definitely be above there 500 MWH tier one level each month.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You must mean 500kWh tier.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't live in the US, so the issue really doesn't concern me. However, IMHO, the 'user pays' principle on road taxes seems very complicated and difficult to administer.

      Australia, like many countries, taxes petrol (GAS) and LPG, Diesel. The individual state levy an annual vehicle registration charge.

      The Federal government builds and maintains the highway system from general revenue, and rebates a proportion of GST tax revenue back to the States for secondary road building and maintenance.

      Much simpler, but ends up with the same level of mismanagement and ineptitude.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Tax will only be acceptable if it is based solely on electric only driven miles; preferably at point of resale.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why wouldnt they simply just require EV buyers to register their ownership with the utility company and put a flat rate tax increase on their home power bills? Give or take a few bucks every year, it would be pretty easy to guage how much of the extra energy consumption goes to their car. If the taxers or taxees want to nitpick they can calculate the rate by each specific model of vehicle and it's battery economy per mile. In the far away future, when charging kiosks are in every gas station, they can simply tax per energy unit there.

      It's easy. It's familiar in that it would just work with a bill you already pay, and it's no more intrusive than the vehicle registration information you already give. Why the need for complex tracking schemes?
    • Load More Comments
    Share This Photo X