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Should electric cars and hybrids be taxed extra?

Consumer Reports News
Should electric cars and hybrids be taxed extra?

Highway repair money is running lean in many states, due to decreased revenue from gas tax--a result of cars becoming more fuel efficient and Americans driving less. To plug the crater in highway funding, several states have proposed new taxes on electric cars and even hybrids. This raises a question of fairness, one we put to our fans on Facebook.

We asked: Should electric cars be taxed to ensure their drivers pay their fair share to maintain roads? Or would taxing electric cars defeat the purpose of efforts to develop electric cars to save gas, clean the air, and reduce dependence on imported oil?

We got more than 300 comments (and more than 1,200 Likes); the overwhelming majority said no, new taxes on electric cars and hybrids are not the answer. Many were colorful; some even salty.

To learn more about electric cars and hybrids, visit our alternative-fuel car guide.

Lots of commenters noted that no drivers should be penalized for burning less gas. Many acknowledged the issue of fairness, that electric car drivers should pay for highway upkeep the same as any other car. But most respondents said the few electric cars on the roads shouldn't bear the burden of filling the gap left by all other cars getting better fuel economy. A few readers thought electric car drivers should eventually face more highway taxes, but not until more hit the road. And some mention that electricity is already taxed, although we didn't see any who acknowledged that electricity taxes pay for electrical infrastructure, not for roads. (Visit our hybrids and EVs buying guide.)

A few readers offered other suggestions. Here are a few of the more creative and interesting ones:

"Of course not. They should be rewarded for saving the environment from the emissions and not using up the oil supplies unnecessarily. Don't punish them for doing the right thing."

"Surprisingly, I find myself in agreement with the idea of road-use tax. I have driven a hybrid car for seven years. All the while I watch our roads worsen.... I think it fair to pay my share... I don't think the breaks should continue forever."

"How about taxing people for not buying cigarettes? Or liquor?"

"Maybe they should do away with road tax in gasoline and just charge more to buy a tag?"

"If you use the roads, you should pay regardless of the type of vehicle you drive. I say scrap the gas tax and replace it with a tire tax. Everyone pays!"

"People should not be treated like royalty because they choose to drive electric or hybrid cars."

"Raise gasoline taxes incrementally every year (say 3 cents per year.). Governments' goal should be to make it more financially attractive to own a hybrid / low consumption vehicle."

"A weight tax on vehicles would be a reasonable way to accomplish this."

"Let the government raise the tax on luxury vehicles to offset any loss."

"...if they're so worried about it, they should stop giving tax credits on hybrid vehicles."

"No, electric car owners should not be charged extra fees. Some people support increasing tax on carbon fuels. Let us talk about that."

"Instead of creating more indirect user taxes to supplement the gas tax, turn interstate highways into toll roads. This would make them directly self-sustaining. Many interstates on the east coast already are toll roads.

"The oil companies continue to post record profits, so how about doing away with the total $4.4 billion in tax credits the government is giving each year to Shell Oil and Exxon/Mobil?"

"Get rid of fuel 'transportation' fuel taxes. Tax road damage / use instead. Perhaps proportional to vehicle weight and miles driven."

Check out our Facebook page to read the rest of the submissions. Or feel free to leave your own ideas in the comments, below.

—Eric Evarts

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