Electric car owners face fee to fix roads

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The owners of electric cars in Washington may be shocked to learn that starting Feb. 1 they will be required to fork over a $100 annual fee to help pay for road and highway improvements.

Drivers of conventional vehicles are already contributing to that fund through the state’s 37.5 cents per gallon gasoline tax. According to The Associated Press, an average motorist driving 12,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 23 mpg pays about $200 a year.

This fee makes sense. Electric cars contribute to the wear and tear on the roads and should help pay to maintain them. But not everyone agrees.

“I think it’s wrong,” Joe Lambrix of Olympia told The Associated Press. “You pay taxes on the electricity, it’s not like they’re getting away for free. ... You’re trying to do something good and they still find a way to get revenue. It’s unfortunate.”

What Lambrix fails to understand is the taxes on electricity do not go toward fixing or building roads. While electric cars may be better for the environment, they still require drivable highways. Those who use those highways are expected to contribute toward their upkeep. By avoiding gasoline taxes, electric car owners would be getting a free ride.

The fee for electric cars does not apply to hybrid vehicles or those that don’t exceed 35 mph. Hybrid owners are paying the gas tax. The low-speed, electric, golf-cart-like vehicles are very light and aren’t allowed on most highways.

Electric car owners are not being punished. They are simply being required to pay their fair share. And most of them received a substantial break in state sales tax exemptions so they are still money ahead.

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