“We should look at this as an opportunity to innovate and not just how do we collect road taxes and these vehicles that aren’t paying it,” Jaynes told lawmakers. “There’s a much bigger puzzle we need to pay attention to.”
For the past several years, legislators have considered several methods for taxing EVs, including what would amount to a higher sales tax on them and a flat annual registration fee in addition to the usual motor vehicle taxes.
Jaynes said the sales tax — actually, the targeted elimination of an exemption that applies to all vehicles — would have equaled on average 12 years of fuel taxes for comparable vehicles.
A flat tax on EVs and hybrids was actually enacted in 2017, but the state Supreme Court disallowed it. There remains interest in such a levy, but Jaynes said it would not raise enough money.
Both proposals, she said, disconnect actual road use from the amount paid.
That makes a mileage tax attractive to policy wonks. The technology required to assess the tax, though, raises the suspicions of a lot of drivers and civil libertarians.
“Privacy was a huge concern, as you might imagine,” said Jaynes, referring to several states with experimental programs. “As people have experience with the program, though, their concerns are reduced.”