Taxing Electric Vehicles to Make Up for Lost Gas Tax Revenue is Medically Irresponsible, Says Michigan Doctor


Recently, there’s been quite a bit of chatter concerning the decisions by several states to tax electric vehicles to make up for shortages in gas tax revenues.

Say No to Smog

Say No to Smog

As of right now, we stand against this idea, simply because there aren’t enough plug-ins out there to even begin to make up for the millions in shortages experienced by dozens of states and because it sends a conflicting message to potential plug in vehicle buyers who see a federal tax credit on one side and a “make-up” tax on the other.

But, apparently, there are other reasons why taxing electric vehicles in this way makes no sense.

From the medical viewpoint, taxing plug-in vehicles is absurd, says Robert Levine MD.

In an open letter submitted to the Detroit Free Press, Levine says this:

“Mark Phelan’s well-reasoned article should have included the tremendous health cost burden from vehicle emissions, paid for by Michigan residents with asthma, the businesses that supply their insurance and state funds from Medicaid that cover health costs for nearly half of Michigan children. This tilts the debate against new taxes on modern high-efficiency vehicles.”

“Why children in Detroit have more asthma the closer they live to I-96 is being studied in “The Near Road Exposures and Effects of Urban Air Pollutants Study (NEXUS)” by the Environmental Protection Agency. Living near highways, as many of us do in southeast Michigan, increases asthma, which is connected with emissions throughout the U.S. This means expensive hospitalizations primarily among children, and lost work by their caregivers.”

“High-efficiency vehicles are better for breathing because they use less fuel so less pollutants come out of the tailpipe. The demand for them is helping rebuild our auto industry. Since they cost more, more sales taxes are collected at purchase, which can be plowed back into our infrastructure.”

“There are fair ways to raise money to repair highways based on use. New taxes on our best vehicle technology, which contains the added bonus of keeping us healthier, is not the right road.”

Thanks doctor Levine, we most certainly agree.

Source: Detroit Free Press

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19 Comments on "Taxing Electric Vehicles to Make Up for Lost Gas Tax Revenue is Medically Irresponsible, Says Michigan Doctor"

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I prescribe a chill pill for said doctor.

Perhaps you would like a flight ticket to Detroit to use your taser on the doctor, Taser54?

Talk about lack of self-awareness.

Once there, I’d worry about getting out of Detroit- as do most of its residents.

Is it “Levine” or “Levin”?

Maybe you got confused w/our Senator, Carl Levin.

Unfortunately this all plays against us perfectly:

1.) Riffraff get all stupidly overexcited about responsible and timely scheduled gas tax increases to pay for the roads they use.
2.) Oil lobby would like to put a pillow on top of the EV market in its crib.
3.) Politicians are willing sockpuppets.

I love you.

Excellent op-ed. Thanks for sharing it. A good example for how to counter this “EV tax” nonsense.

Why is it irresponsible to tax EVs? The gas tax is really nothing more than a highway use tax, to maintain the infrastructure. It works well when everybody uses gas, and the amount of gas used in any given vehicle (and therefore tax collected) is a pretty good indicator of how much use the highway gets from that particular ICE vehicle. Totally fair, until EVs came along. If EVs are going to compete with ICE cars, they will need to pay their fair share of highway maintenance taxes. Not sure the best way to do that, but it has to be done.

Why didn’t governments tax hybrids that were getting 50mpg while SUV’s were getting 19mpg over the last 10 years? Why did it take plug-in cars to cause this tax? Can we guarantee the tax $ collected from fuel at the state & fed level actually goes towards the infrastructure? Should we tax people more on electricity that heat their homes with a fireplace instead of space heaters, since us EV people are supporting the electrical infrastructure more?

To me toll roads based on vehicle weight/axles is the fairest way.

kdawg, governments do tax hybrids because they do use gas. Not saying it’s fair, but if an SUV user wants to pay more tax because he has a gas guzzler, that’s his privilege. But as we use less gas per capita as a nation, gas tax revenue won’t do the job it originally was intended to do. Governments will have this funding problem with or without EVs. My point is that the gas tax will not be the best way to fund maintenance in the future, and owners of EVs, hybrids, fuel cell vehicles, or whatever will need to pay their fair share somehow. EV owners should not get a free pass.

I agree that toll roads are the fairest way to tax vehicles for road maintenance. That’s about the purest form of user fee available.

(Vehicle Weight * annual miles driven) – documented at annual inspection time. Easy way to recoup the proper tax on miles driven and accounting for vehicle weight which is an impact on the road use.

Of course, how much road wear is taken up by vehicles like UPS trucks, 18-wheelers, delivery vehicles and others? I’m glad to pay my fair share. Nothing now or on the planning board is fair. Other than a per-gallon tax right now. Heavier vehicles use more gas or diesel. Drive more, pay more tax. The lighter the vehicle and the less gas used – it’s pretty good to pay less tax. (I paid $2600 in state sales tax last year when I bought my EV – I could have just not bought the car and kept driving my used one)

My point was that hybrids, selling in the hundreds of thousands, have been using 1/2 the gas as normal cars for many years and no one said anything. Now a few EV’s are sold (even ones that use gas like the Volt) and all of a sudden this is a huge deal that EV’s are not paying taxes. To me, it comes off as another attack on EV’s, and less about generating tax dollars.

I like the doctor’s idea. If SUV owners, which cause more road damage BTW, wan’t to get technical on who owes what, and are asking me to pay for the road damage that my car does (even though I pay tax on my electricity already), then I want them to pay more for the health care budget, because they are causing more health “damage”. Everyone should pay their fair share right?

I’ve said it before, and I still believe it – A usage tax based on annual miles driven for ALL cars, ICE, PHEV, EV, etc – You can have multipliers for axles/weight if your like. Odometer is read annually at vehicle inspect time, or just via an annual filling. – Some “true up” occurs if case of cheating when a title is transferred. Then eliminate all gas/diesel taxes. One pays the tax rate based on where the car is registered..

I’m more of the liberal type, but having the govn’t pick favorites for this type of vehicle or that pays extra as well IN ADDITION to fuel taxes seems short sighted and somewhat unfair. Given the upcoming diversity of fuels (CNG, electricity, H2, etc), it just seems easier (and fairer) to move everything to miles driven – Then you can “tweak” on pollutant surcharges if you wish, but the current approach of some states of surcharges on EVs and some hybrids just seems crazy, and likely to need “future adjustments” as the number and type’s of cars on the road evolve – JMHO

I’m in favor of the VMT tax as well. The vehicle weight/axes should be a factor, as well as age of the car (generally speaking, the older the car, the less pollution control equipment was installed at the time of manufacture).

The problem is geography – how do you partition that tax based on geographic area. GPS? Then you have people complaining about privacy – I don’t want the government seeing what roads I go on!

I’m absolutely not a fan of GPS tracking. Way to much complexity and privacy concerns for my tastes. As for what “tax per geographic area?”, they are called state borders. Cars are registered in individual states, and states currently/individually set their gas taxes. My proposal, is once a year, a vehicle owner reports the odometer reading (or more easily done at inspection time for states with annual safety/emissions inspections) – You pay based on that delta of mileage in your home state for the past year – That’s it – A car registered in VA pays in VA, even if it’s driven in MI, or cross country – on average this should all wash out, as folks are basically paying their “home state” (or where the car is registered in).

Seems pretty straightforward to me…

What about federal taxes on gas?

Well that’s easy – either the gas tax stays on and states continue to remit that money to the government, or after most or all of the states switch to VMT, the Feds offer an alternate VMT plan that the states would like to go full-VMT.

I agree with just remitting the taxes to the home state. I live in the western US where that’s not that big of a problem (how often to I leave Nevada in a car? a few times a year). But its a bigger issue for other states, think NYC and the NY/NJ/CT area.

Then there is also the issue of double payment – if I pay VMT taxes in my home state, and travel to a state that doesn’t do VMT and pay taxes at the pump, I’m really double-paying (a small amount) of taxes. Can I get that reduced or refunded?

Vehicle weight is already considered with registration fees/apportionment for large trucks and Federal Heavy Vehicle Use Tax.