Hybrid and Electric Car Owners Could Face Tax Hikes

Oregon may start taxing electric vehicles.

If passed, a new bill in Oregon's house of representatives will introduce a per-mile fee for high efficiency cars (model year 2015 and later).

Last week, state officials met for the first public hearing on House Bill 2453, which would create a per-mile tax on cars that get at least 55 miles per gallon. The bill will add a fee of about one and a half cents per mile. As AutoBlogGreen points out, for a plug-in vehicle that's driven 15,000 yearly, that fee comes out to about $230 per year.

Why is Oregon, of all places, looking to add the tax? Why would a state known for being progressive and environmentally friendly be looking to discourage the use of high mileage and electric vehicles? The answer is road upkeep. The state of Oregon relies on gasoline taxes to cover about 60 percent of funding for state, county and city road projects.

"Gasoline taxes have been, traditionally, a very good stand-in for how many miles you drive," Representative Vicki Berger told Oregon's Register Guard newspaper. "That dynamic is changing."

These taxes were a test for determining how much a driver used (and caused wear and tear to) the state's roads, and charged them accordingly. But as cars are getting more and more efficient, the difference between an old, inefficient model and a new high efficiency one is increasing, meaning not everyone is paying an equal amount for the roads.

"You have folks in pickup (trucks) who are paying far more than their fair share and you have folks in hybrids or electric vehicles who are paying nothing to the roads system," Craig Campbell, a AAA lobbyist, told the Register Guard. According to Campbell, a mileage-based tax should even things out.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, while only 1.3 percent of the nation's population live in Oregon, six percent of the United States' publicly available electric vehicle charging stations is in the state.

If the bill passes, the new tax will be effective July 1, 2015.

(Edited by Lois Heyman)

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