Proposed Tax on Electric Vehicle Owners will Hurt the Market and the Environment

Electric vehicles (EV), particularly those utilizing renewable energy to charge, are the future of transportation. EVs use Ohio roadways without using gas, and under current Ohio law, that means they are not contributing to the tax fund the state relies on for roadway infrastructure. But, the Ohio legislature’s proposed fees would be a huge burden on EV and hybrid owners.

The annual fee proposed in the House is $200 for electric vehicles and $100 for all hybrid vehicles — much higher than annual fees in other states. While the OEC Action Fund agrees that EV owners should pay their fair share in roadway infrastructure taxes, this excessive fee on EVs and hybrid vehicles would penalize drivers who are taking part in the future of transportation.  

At $175 for EVs and $75 for plug-in hybrid vehicles, the Senate proposal is slightly better than the House version, importantly removing any fee on regular gas-powered hybrid vehicles (hybrid owners already pay the gas tax and should not be charged additional fee). But, both versions still contain fees that are far too high if the goal is to make the tax on EV drivers equal to what non-EV owners pay in gas taxes. Most EV owners will now pay a higher fee for their vehicles than they would by paying the gas tax.

EVs are not only for the rich and elite. Used varieties can be essential to low-income communities due to their price and companion costs. Southeastern Ohio saw a tremendous build-out of EV ownership with the launch of EV Cruisers, and the creation of a zero percent interest loan fund for EV and hybrid vehicle loans through the Ohio University Credit Union. Through this program, income-qualified and credit-challenged folks were able to obtain an EV for an affordable price. This fee would set their progress back and limit the accessibility of EVs.

Owners will now need to factor in $1,750 of extra costs over a ten year period—that’s roughly fourth of the cost of a used Nissan Leaf. For many people, this fee will turn them off of EV ownership, meaning less zero emission vehicles on the road and, ultimately, dirtier air. Vehicles emit greenhouse gasses, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, which contribute to climate change—and we should be encouraging, not discouraging, Ohioans to shift toward EVs. This fee will stunt EV ownership in our state, meaning less EVs and therefore continued emission of greenhouse gasses.

Ohio needs infrastructure improvements, but those betterments should not come at the cost of our future, and the taxes to make those improvements should not be raised by singling out and penalizing Ohioans who drive EVs. We should tax all drivers fairly and equally, and we should not use our state’s infrastructure shortfalls to put forth damaging legislation that hurts a rapidly growing industry that helps all Ohioans breathe cleaner air. The legislature should reject any fee over $100 for EVs owners, and if their proposed transportation budget contains a higher number, Governor DeWine should line-item veto the proposal to ensure we aren’t damaging this growing piece of Ohio’s future.