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06/11/2013

Why North Carolina wants to tax hybrid, electric car owners

Hybrid

A file photo of a Toyota Prius hybrid. (Toronto Star) 

Some things are hard to believe. Like this one: North Carolina wants to tax hybrid and electric car owners.

Lawmakers in the state are considering a tax on drivers of energy-efficient cars: $50 a year for a hybrid and $100 for an electric car. Very simply put, state politicans say it is a way to make up for the revenue lost when drivers buy less gasoline. The gasoline tax funds highways in the state.

This tax could raise to about $1.5 million each year.

(The state's Senate will consider the measure but hasn’t acted yet.)

Here is how The Daily Beast explains it:

"The state relies on gas taxes to fund highway construction. But gas consumption has been falling, in part because the American auto fleet has been getting more efficient. In effect, people who drive cars that get 50 miles per gallon are contributing only half as much to the upkeep of roads as people who drive cars that get 25 miles per gallon."

Of course, online commentators have had a field day and they have raised vital questions: Should drivers of fuel-efficient gasoline vehicles be charged more because they use less gasoline? Or those who use lots of gas be offered a rebate?

Most commentators have angrily called it the “backward thinking attitude” of the N.C. government. Others have said they will “never” pay the tax.

To be fair, N.C. isn’t the only state embroiled in this.

Similar legislation that may tax hybrid cars is pending in Texas, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Arizona. Washington state added a $100 registration fee in February for owners of all-electric cars.

The bottomline: That’s the thank you drivers get a) for trying to save money on gasoline, b) for reducing carbon emissions.

Raveena Aulakh is the Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term, and wildlife. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

Comments

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Unbelievable.. you do something to save money and you be politicians will find a way to get it back from you.. very sad considering we pay their salaries and then they try and rip us off anytime we find a way to save a few dollars... just amazing

I find this completely galling. On the one hand, our Federal and State governments want the car companies to reduce the CAFE mileage; that is the average mileage across all models they produce. And we are barraged by messages about conserving energy and becoming more energy independent. So we buy Hybrids. They reduce the use of foreign energy and reduce the carbon footprint that is caused by burning larger amounts of hydrocarbons. Great. Now the people that are determined to tax as much as they can decide that tax revenues will be down because hybrids burn less fuel and therefore do not produce enough tax revenue to support and maintain roads. Somehow these tax collecting government officials seem to forget that hybrid buyers pay more for their vehicles and pay more in sales taxes. They forget that everyone can breath better when their cars belch out less carbon. They forget that hybrids are lighter and smaller than most of the other vehicles on the road. And they forget that when the use of gas goes down, so do the prices for everyone.

I think it should be the other way around. The tax on fuel per gallon should go up for those that buy more fuel. After all, the cost to society for those that waste fuel and belch out carbon raises the cost to everyone in our society. And the wear and tear on roads is caused more by the big road hogs, not the tiny hybrids.

I am appalled by this new money grabbing tactic. Just think about this. When the CAFE requirements get stricter and stricter, and they will, auto manufacturers will be forced to make more and more hybrids. It is already happening. And when you have no choice but to buy a hybrid, you will find that this is just another tax.

Now they want to punish you for going green and saving the environment. Seems to me there are some politicians down there that need to be voted out of office ASAP.

For decades now, North Carolina has been the center of the tobacco industry and given this bizarre idea, I am surprised they haven't taxed "non-smokers" in the state for not smoking.

Intriguing.

A much better solution would be to charge road tolls. That way the people who use the roads the most and/or use them at the busiest times will pay for them.

If you own a car but don't use it, why should you pay for the roads?

That's like leveling a tax on non drinkers and non smoker to boost tax revenue, that's ridiculous.. how about taxing the rich, closing tax loop holes

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