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Posts Tagged ‘Kansas legislature’

The Registration Fee Increase on Electric Vehicles

Mon ,27/05/2019

Though this is written from a Kansas perspective, it may be similar to an attempt by other states to impose additional fees and taxes on hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs). Traditionally, state roads have been funded by a tax on fuel.  Some state lawmakers are concerned that hybrid and electric vehicles are not paying their share of the cost of road construction. To be proactive, which is a novelty, they wish to add an additional fee onto electric vehicles to make sure they pay their fair share the cost of roads. It seems reasonable, but it is not.

Owners of hybrids and EVs help reduce health and the environmental costs and pay more in other taxes and than owners of the standard internal combustion models. Hybrid vehicles get about the same mileage as fuel-efficient gasoline cars, and an additional fee is not added on to those. How fair is that?

Electric vehicles contribute to people’s health and the environment. EVs reduce air pollution and the costs associated with lung and heart diseases which are made worse by particulates, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, and ozone. Though air pollution is more of a problem in the cities, those in rural areas are still affected by extreme weather and by the increased medical and insurance costs associated with air pollution. EVs reduce carbon emissions and thereby reduce the associated risk of extreme weather caused by global warming. Conventional electric power plants are about twice as efficient at converting fuel to energy as internal combustion engines. That means electric vehicles reduce emissions by about half, even if charged from a conventional coal fired power plant.

At one time the federal government recognized the value of electric vehicles by providing a $7500 rebate to encourage their purchase. Likewise, many states give tax rebates on the purchase of electric vehicles. California gives rebates of up to $2500 for purchase of an EV, Colorado has a $5000 rebate, and 10 other states give similar rebates. Those tax incentives are now being phased out, as there are forces at work to discourage electric vehicles.

Last session, Kansas passed HB 2214 which raised the registration fee on hybrid vehicles to $50 dollars and those on electric vehicles to $100. That amount probably will not discourage anyone from buying an EV or a hybrid, but putting a tax on EVs is a move in the wrong direction. Those who buy EVs pay a premium for those vehicles because they are concerned about air pollution and the environment. It does not seem right that they are rewarded with an increased registration fee, especially when they already pay more in purchase price and property tax to upgrade to an environmentally friendly vehicle.

For examples, Ford’s basic gasoline auto is the Focus which has an MSRP of $18,000 with a property tax of $294. The buyer of a CMAX, a hybrid Focus ($25,000), pays $412 in property tax and of Ford’s Energi plug-in hybrid($28,000) pays $490 in property tax. The gas powered Nissan Sentra ($21,000) pays $342 in property tax while the comparable Nissan Leaf EV ($31,000) pays $503. The property tax decreases each year but the differential remains so that over the life of the vehicle, the buyer of a hybrid or EV pays, not only more for the car but considerably more in property taxes than the buyer of a comparable gasoline vehicle. Besides the additional property tax, EV owners also pay taxes on the electricity used to charge their car. Westar customers, for instance, pay a 6.15% sales tax on electricity as well as a property tax surcharge of $0.001209 per kilowatt hour. It is no wonder owners of hybrids and EVs feel they have are taxed enough already.

In 2010, the Kansas Legislature enacted a 10 year highway/transportation program to ensure job growth, economic development, safety and overall prosperity for our state. The $8 billion,10 year KDOT program was funded through a variety of sources, including dedicating four– tenths of a cent in state sales tax to the highway fund and bonds. However, to shore up the state’s general fund, previous legislatures transferred $2.3 billion from KDOT to plug budget holes. The extra registration fee put on EVS is expected to raise about $600,000 annually, which would require 40 years to pay back KDOT if the purchase of additional EVS was discouraged.

The most reasonable way to fund our roads into the future is to restore the 0.4 cent diverted from KDOT and to add an additional 0.4 cent, which would come partly from the additional taxes paid by electric vehicle owners. As the number of electric vehicles grows, so would the highway funds.