Wisconsin poised to impose annual fee on EVs and hybrids


As the average fuel economy of US vehicles increases, gas tax receipts around the country are declining, leaving less funding available for road construction and maintenance. In an effort to make up the shortfall, Wisconsin could join five other states in imposing a fee on fuel-efficient vehicles.

The $50 annual charge, which would apply to both EVs and hybrids, is designed “to ensure these owners continue to pay their fair share of the operating costs of our infrastructure,” said Wisconsin DOT Secretary Mark Gottlieb. The fee is part of a two-year package of tax increases proposed by the Wisconsin DOT, which will be considered by Governor Scott Walker, then sent to the state legislature next year.

MORE: Taxing EVs: no gas means no gas tax

Washington, Colorado, Nebraska, Virginia and North Carolina already charge EV drivers special fees, but Wisconsin’s would be the first to levy a fee on hybrids.

Some see a political motivation for the new fee. “It’s a little bit like charging an ex-smoker for not smoking,” said Steve Hiniker of the environmental group 1000 Friends of Wisconsin. “Transportation is the only department that has been getting funding increases for the past four years. That speaks to the power of the road builders, because they want to build more projects.”

Road builders gave nearly $731,000 in campaign contributions to Governor Scott Walker, and nearly $300,000 to state legislators, over the past 3 years, according to the Star Tribune.

EV drivers want to pay their fair share to keep roads and bridges in good repair, said Jay Friedland, Director of Plug-In America, but the fairest solution would be a fee based on vehicle miles traveled, rather than a flat fee or a fuel tax. Friedland believes that states should not impose fees until they have 100,000 EVs on the road (only California has so far reached this milestone). Until EV adoption reaches that point, administering a fee may cost more than it generates in revenue.


Source: Greentech Media
Image: Nicolas Raymond/Flickr

  • http://Getgreentv.com/ Jeff Theisen

    This is a kick in the butt stupid idea, taxing EVs in WI will cost more to administrate than it will take in…there just isn’t enough of them. They got it all backass words as we say in WI. They should really be taxing all the gas guzzlers …there’s lots more of them up here and those that drive them obviously don’t care how much it costs, nor understand the cost to the community, There should be a tax to allow them the foolish pleasure of spewing 1000s of tons of co2 and other pollution into our city’s …there’d likely even brag they pay it. So there’s your money.. Let go forward Scotty….we need to encourage EV adoption. Don’t give the guzzlers another excuse like …”I gotta tow a boat” now they’ll be using …I can’t buy an EV I’ll get a tax.

  • Denise Kolb

    I pay $100 a year for my little electric car here in Washington, but that’s cheap since I don’t buy gasoline. I think it makes sense to pay our fair share for road work since there is no easy way to do a mileage-based system for electric cars. I also think they should raise the tax rate on gaslline and levy a stiff tax on the purchase price of gas guzzlers.

    • liuping

      Mileage based taxes are the only fair solution, Otherwise EV’s risk paying more that they should, or less, depending on the arbitrary fee picked by politicians. We should all pay for the road maintenance, since we all use them.

      However, gas cars should continue to pay a gas tax in addition to a miles based usage tax, since using gas usage causes additional health and environmental damage.

  • Dave

    This is idiotic. We should be encouraging and incentivizing the use of EV vehicles because of their significantly less impact on long term damage and costs to our planet. This is doing exactly the opposite! The burden should be put on those harming the environment, not helping it. That means RAISING taxes on gasoline to make up for the loss. It might sound unfair, but it is exactly the right thing to do to benefit EVERYONE long term.

  • Bent LEAF

    So, if a tax based on miles driven is used, how do you tax the out-of-state motorists that use the roads and bridges? And how do you determine the number miles that your in-state motorists have driven in other states? If a person drives 10 miles to the state border and then 30 miles in the next state every day, how many miles should they be taxed on?

    Would it be reasonable for say 50% of the first 10 years of EV tax revenue to be used to improve the charging infrastructure in some way? I mean one could argue that the past 10 years they were paying gas taxes have already paid for the roads.