Beginning in 2020, hybrid and electric vehicle owners in Ohio will be required to pay an annual registration tax. Non-plugin hybrids will be assessed $100 per year, and all vehicles with a plug, both hybrids and full-electrics, will be assessed $200 per year. The taxes are part of a two-year transportation bill and place a disproportionately large cost of Ohio’s infrastructure maintenance on electric vehicle owners compared to the amount of wear-and-tear they place on the road.
In April of this year, Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 62, the biennial transportation bill which, among other things, increases the statewide gas tax to 38.5 cents per gallon (from 28 cents) by 2020. Many have directed their attention at a different aspect of HB 62, the electric vehicle registration tax. Lawmakers justified the registration tax because electric vehicle drivers avoid the gas tax, which is Ohio’s primary method for funding road repair and construction. However not only does the average driver of a gas vehicle only pay $130-$140 a year with the increased gas tax, but electric vehicle owners also drive less on average than gas vehicle owners. Additionally, hybrid owners will pay gas tax on top of the registration tax.
The approved $200 electric vehicle tax is among the largest in the country, even as an increasing number of states enact similar policies. “We are seeing a sudden, dramatic increase in fees that are especially unfair,” says co-author of a 2019 study by Consumer Reports, Shannon Baker-Branstetter. She adds, “People should be allowed to choose a vehicle that is safe, reliable and better for the environment without being punished.” The Consumer Reports’ study classified Ohio’s tax as “punitive” and concludes that the taxes will especially impact low-to-middle-income consumers looking to save money by going gasless.
Clean Fuels Ohio staff provided information to lawmakers that acknowledges the broad societal benefits of widespread electric vehicle adoption and nascent electric vehicle market in Ohio while also providing information about how to set the electric vehicle tax at a rate which would ensure all drivers pay their fair share in road maintenance costs. Clean Fuels Ohio partnered with a variety of stakeholders in policymaker education efforts prior to the bill’s passing. Drive Electric Ohio regional chapters of electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts mobilized their members to call for a tax to be set at or below $100.
“Ohio is well positioned to be at the front of the pack when it comes to electric vehicle manufacturing in the next decade,” says Brendan Kelley, Drive Electric Ohio Director for Clean Fuels Ohio. “If Ohio wants to protect and expand upon current auto manufacturing jobs, the state should send a signal to the increasingly electric auto manufacturing industry by passing a more reasonable and equitable electric vehicle tax in the next transportation bill in 2021.
To find out who your state representatives are and how to contact them, visit www.ohiohouse.gov and www.ohiosenate.gov.