Seattle And Washington State Residents To Pay Yearly $100 EV Fee Starting February 1st, 2013

DEC 26 2012 BY STAFF 22

Annual $100 EV-Fee Goes Into Effect February 1st, 2013

Although seen as a “EV-friendly” state, and the final leg on the West Coast Electric Highway, Washington state electric vehicle owners are soon going to be the first in the nation to face a $100 yearly fee to own and operate the cars.

West Coast Electric Highway Expanded In Washington Summer Of 2012

Washington state law (part of House Bill 266) outlines the fee (that is effective February 1st), and says that proceeds will go to road and highway improvements that electric vehicle owners take advantage of, but don’t have to pay for because they don’t buy gasoline, and therefore do not incur gas taxes.

The law does exempt those electric vehicles whose maximum speed does not exceed 35 mph (or NEVs-neighborhood electric vehicles) and those cars that are classes as “hybrids.”  Some notable hybrids would be the Toyota Prius plug-in and the Chevrolet Volt.

CBS’ local Seattle affiliate says that:

“About 1,600 cars currently registered in the state would likely be subject to the fee, including the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Roadster and some custom electric vehicles, according to the state licensing department.”

While it is understandable that at some point fees are an inevitable reality for electric cars, and even plug-in hybrids, we feel perhaps it is a touch too early (like by a decade) to begin the additional taxation program on them at this point.  Especially considering there is still a national $7,500 credit program along with many other state-level incentive bonuses to encourage the adoption of EVs.

Fred Nelson, an all-electric Nissan Leaf in Washington told CBS Seattle, “It’s a little frustrating. I do understand the logic behind it because we don’t pay gas taxes. ” 

Multiple EV owner, Joe Lambrix looks at it another way,  “I think it’s wrong. 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.”

CBS Seattle

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22 Comments on "Seattle And Washington State Residents To Pay Yearly $100 EV Fee Starting February 1st, 2013"

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Note that we don’t pay sales tax – so a Leaf owner saved a cool $3,500. That can be used to pay this fee for 35 years.

Richard C.

Yes, in Washington state, ICE vehicles are subject to sales tax, but through at least 2013, BEV’s are not taxed.

Washington state made a mistake by passing this $100/yr law on BEV’s. Most states (as well as the Federal gov’t) are trying to encourage citizens to move towards cleaner automobiles, and this law flies in the face of that. As we all know, BEV’s are very expensive at this point, so we need things like the federal tax credit, as well as state incentives to get the EV market moving.


I disagree. This tax covers road use and it still favors EVs. It will in no way discourage drivers from adopting EVs as the road use tax for ICE vehicles is $0.37 per gallon. That equivalent to the tax on 270 gallons of fuel-for a 45mpg car that would equate to 12150 miles of driving. The average ICE car is driven 13400 miles/year. So EVs are still taxed less than the average ICE car.

Richard C.

@ Taser

I’m not against paying my fair share for road use. I have two points however.

First, on a personal level, I drive only between 4,000-5,000 miles annually, so I will actually be taxed at a higher rate than most. If they want to tax BEV’s road use, it should be taxed by the mile.

Second, it just seems premature to begin this tax so soon, when we’re trying to promote the BEV industry. Buyers are already paying a high cost to purchase these vehicles, and in the long run, the state wins in cleaner air and roads. There is certainly a time for this tax to be implemented, but this seems rushed.


How exactly do EVs make the roads cleaner?


In the scheme of things, you are talking $50 difference between your per mile use and the the Fixed $100 fee that is equivalent to 12000miles use for a high MPG vehicle.

Given that EVs are such a small number of cars in the state, it makes sense for the government to establish this fee now and you can be sure that once the numbers of EVs rise to a certain level, you’ll be charged on miles driven per year.

As for what you’ve received for purchasing an EV, you’ve not been charged a sales tax.


I was surprised to find out that our 2013 Volt cost us around $685.00 for license & registration. Arizona does not consider PHEVs alternative fuel vehicles. A100% BEV qualifies for a big discount, otherwise your vehicle must use a ?% of of some other kind of “alternative fuel” to get the discount (grrr). Weight is also a factor when the DMV figures how much you owe, which also makes it more expensive for big batteries. I just can’t figure out why Tucson has such terrible roads with the millions & millions of dollars the Arizona DMV collects annually.

Anthony Fiti

I paid about $775 for my 2012 Volt in Nevada. I was feeling bad about not paying that much in gas taxes until that. Realistically, the $250/yr I’m not paying in gas taxes is being made up in the registration fees vs. a regular car.


Are you saying that in Nevada the registration fees for a Volt are more than the registration fees for a regular ICE car? If yes, how much of a difference?

David Murray

I agree that if/when electric cars are poised to become mainstream, we will need fees to compensate for road taxes. But I also agree with the article that it is WAY too early to start this.

I am curios if it is possible to calculate how much the average US driver pays in such fees through their purchase of gasoline.


The Volt exempt? What a laugh… either the powerful EV purists in WA and OR feel obliged to demonstrate how true they are even though it’s kind of a shot in their own foot, or it’s a bunch of America-First types who are powerful enough to influence the decisionmaking.

Actually, I think both groups are involved and bear guilt.


Stuart22, since you don’t know, I suggest you don’t speculate.

The EV association here was against the fee. Some of the objections included talk about low speed NEVs, that PHEVs already pay some gas tax etc. So, the legislature changed the language to exclude those groups.


Yes, that gas engine onboard saved Volt owners from paying one extra cent, even though it always runs off its electric motors mostly without help from its gas driven generator. Had EV purists not insisted on classifying it as a hybrid (plug in, strong, etc.) rather than EREV, there might have been a push to slap a half tax on it similar to the half credits given to buyers of strong hybrids like the PIPs and Energis.

I imagine the EV association is dominated by EV purists, no? It sounds like my speculation was right on the mark. Shame on anyone considering the Volt as electric……lol

A Singh

Yes, while such fees may be required in the long run, it’s much too early to be assessing special fees on EV’s. We want to do everything possible to encourage EV adoption. It sends a very mixed message to be offering incentives on the one hand, while assessing special fees on the other hand. I’m really disappointed that Washington passed this.

Furthermore, EV owners DO pay a number of taxes on the electricity they use to charge their cars, but none of these taxes go towards road maintenance. Maybe some of this additional tax revenue should be directed to roads.

Finally, the estimates I have seen are that the state will spend far more in implementing and collecting this tax than the tax itself will bring in! (They only stand to bring in $160K gross right now.) That’s completely nuts. Definitely very premature.


It’s not a special fee. It’s a road use tax. Something all vechicles have to pay.


Well, I’ve been wondering how to get the EV Wonderland off of the Left Coast and out into the hinterland … looks like the Pacific states are going to provide the solution themselves.

Seriously, the road improvement tax needs to be taken away from the fuel, and calculated for each vehicle based on annual miles, weight class and fuel type. If they actually want to discourage petroleum and promote EVs, governments can give breaks for the fuel used, instead of tarnishing the segment with a special tariff. Consider that the calculate-by-mile approach isn’t that different from tag and ad valorem tax which is assessed annually now.


I disagree. Fuel type should make no difference on a road use tax. EVs of a certain weight do the same amount of road damage as ICE vechicles of the same weight.

EVs and the like are given tax subsidies and HOV access and that should be the extent of the preferential treatment. EV owners can benefit from the difference in fuel costs and maintenance; however, road use is road use is road use.


“EVs and the like are given tax subsidies and HOV access and that should be the extent of the preferential treatment. EV owners can benefit from the difference in fuel costs and maintenance; however, road use is road use is road use.”

I agree 100%.

Mark Hovis

Simple equation. As far as I know, all states still require an annual inspection where odometer readings are input. Weight of your car x miles driven should calculate your road tax. All automated without any additional effort. Give everyone an option to pay monthly or annually. Allow ICE owners to keep paying at the pump in that change is eeevil.


Nope. Not all states have those inspections anymore. Good idea to apply the fee there, though, in those places that still do.

Mark Hovis

A better idea to me would be to track all vehicles and charge based on which state the miles were actually driven. While we are at it, lets track guns the same way and download the location every time they are fired. We live in a time where the technology exist. Most have already given into this loss of privacy with the mobile phones that we carry. Brother Cole has probably sold the cookies even as I write. Privacy is a thing of the past. Take the lemons and make lemonade.


Is the gas road tax not a federal tax? If a state imposes the same tax on EVs are they subject to a reduced federal road repair fund subsidy?