Issues & Insights

Here’s Another Reason To Hate EVs

‘As fuel taxes plummet, states weigh charging by the mile instead of the tank.” That was the headline of a recent AP story, which should scare freedom-loving citizens everywhere. And you can place the blame squarely on government-subsidized EVs for this terrible new development.

The background is that state and federal gasoline taxes aren’t raising “enough” money these days to pay for roadway construction and maintenance. And a big reason for the growing shortfall is the increase in electric vehicles.

EVs get massive tax subsidies to convince people to buy them, but their owners don’t pay gasoline taxes, for the obvious reason that they never have to fill up. The more EVs on the road, the less revenue the gas taxes raise.

So the policy geniuses in Washington have a solution: Impose a per-mile tax.

Some states are already experimenting with “vehicle miles traveled” taxes, and the $1 trillion bi-partisan infrastructure bill includes $125 million for state and local pilot programs to test a national VMT fee.

A VMT sounds reasonable, right? After all, every driver imposes costs on roadways. And a mileage tax would capture all drivers, no matter what fuels their cars.

But look more closely, and the VMT tax is perhaps one of the most insidious tax ideas ever devised.

To start, a VMT tax would be incredibly complicated and costly to impose.

The gas tax is simple. A relatively small number of large fuel suppliers pay the tax, the costs of which are then passed on to retailers. But by definition, a VMT means collecting money directly from hundreds of millions of owners of hundreds of million cars. How?

One idea is to force motorists to have their odometers checked regularly, where they’d then be assessed a fee. But that would simply encourage widespread odometer fraud, which is already a problem. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 450,000 cars are sold each year with false odometer readings. You’d also need an army of IRS agents to audit the millions of odometers.

Another option is to use an electronic-toll-style-collection system, which would require every car to come with a transmission device. Still another is to put GPS devices in every car, to track each car’s movement.

But as the Government Accountability Office noted, “launching and operating a system to collect fees from 230 million U.S. passenger vehicles is expected to greatly exceed the current costs of collecting federal fuel taxes.”

That means that a huge portion of the new tax would go to the overhead cost of collecting the tax before a dime could be spent on roads. How much would it cost?

The Congressional Budget Office figures that installing an electronic-toll-type system would cost $56 billion — just to cover the interstates, which account for about 2% of the country’s more than 4 million miles of roads.

The American Transportation Research Institute found that replacing the fuel tax with a VMT tax that uses GPS devices “could result in collection costs of more than $20 billion annually – about 300 times higher than the federal fuel tax.”

Worse, a GPS system would open a Pandora’s box of new government intrusions.

It could, the GAO noted, lead to “variable pricing programs” that “charge drivers different rates based on the type of road or the location of travel.” But it could also vary the tax based on the kind of car you drive, how you drive, what time of day you drive, or any other behavior the government wants to discourage.

It would, in short, let government bureaucrats “politicize the way we drive by playing favorites,” notes Heritage Foundation researcher David Ditch.

There are also some inconvenient constitutional issues with a mandatory federal GPS tax collection scheme. The Supreme Court ruled in 2012 against a federal GPS tracking program, saying that it amounted to an unreasonable search and seizure of evidence.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that a VMT would almost certainly be added on top of the gas tax, not as a replacement. Climate alarmist view the gas tax as a sin tax and will never let it go.

If this monstrosity comes into being — and drivers should do everything they can to make sure it doesn’t — you can thank all those preening electric car owners for foisting it on the rest of us.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board


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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • The ev can keep track of how much electricity has been added to it. That data could be used for reporting tax burden for ev drivers

    • You mean the same way odometers do now?
      There is already a problem with cars bing “clocked” to increase their resale value, do you expect it will not happen to EVs too?

  • A more obvious answer would be to only impose the mileage tax on electric cars and continue to use the gas tax for all other cars.

  • EV’s may be part of the lower Hwy taxes but that’s not the real bottom line reason. Fuel, gasoline sales are down which is the reason gasoline pricing is lower at the pump than a couple years ago. Why are gasoline sales lower? The one and only reason that comes to mind for many of us in that industry is, fewer drivers. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why fewer folks are driving. They are dead or disabled, real world fact. Compound that with millions are leaving the larger cities and moving to more country settings (should be buying more gasoline and likely are) and to smaller cities. Smaller cities likely buying less gasoline. Employees working from home but those employees and new smaller city folks are not putting in the miles so the roads have less use. Another issue is upper management in government can’t be part of the pink slip world so new taxing schemes need to be devised without being truthful about the shortfalls of fuel taxes, EV are the scapegoat.

    • Fuel prices are ‘lower’ than a couple of years ago? Where do you live? Prices are thru the roof. In WA St. they’re now the highest gas tax state in the nation. Washington’s fuel prices are $1.32 per gallon higher than the national average of $3.57 per gallon and $1.90 per gallon above the country’s least expensive fuel costs in Mississippi of $2.99 per gallon. The Demoncrats added 45 cents per gallon for their “carbon tax” nonsense which will do NOTHING to improve roads. Their goal is to get people out of their vehicles onto transit, etc. so they want to social engineer the public to stay home by making it too expensive to drive, especially for pleasure.

    • Fuel taxes are lower than a couple of years ago? Where do you live? The prices at the pump are thru the roof. Washington St. fuel prices are $1.32 per gallon higher than the national average of $3.57 per gallon and $1.90 per gallon above the country’s least expensive fuel costs in Mississippi of $2.99 per gallon. The democrats added an additional 45 cents per gallon for their “carbon tax” nonsense. This will solve nothing but use social engineering to force people out of their vehicles due to high prices and onto transit. They especially want people to stay home and not use their vehicles for pleasure trips.

    • We are trying to find an alternative to Paypal. Checks are always welcome!

  • Hmm, 1% of all cars are EV nullifying the premise of this article.

    • Increased cost of tax collection, reason: *More* bureaucrats needed.
      That’s a FEATURE, not a bug.

  • They need to transfer the lost tax revenue to EV chargers, home and public. No way should anyone using gasoline or diesel pay a cent more so the EV driving scum can get a free ride.

  • Since the gvt simply prints more money when it needs, why are we taxed at all?

  • simple solution, treat electric chargers as if they are fuel pumps, add the road tax onto each KW of electricity that a person downloads into their tesla..

  • “But by definition, a VMT means collecting money directly from hundreds of millions of owners of hundreds of million cars. How?”

    The state of illinois state tax imputes a tax on internet buying, based on income, when you have no receipts to back up your internet buying. whether you bought anything or not via the internet.

    Look for something like that coming down the pike.

  • Your mileage driven is already known. It’s collected each time you have a state inspection performed.

    • I have never had a state inspection. But my state could change that.
      Then, should my home state tax ALL of my miles?

  • Every charging station can generate tax revenue if the government so chooses. The rate can be flat or vary according to the type of vehicle and or all kinds of inputs like the age of the vehicle, miles driven etc. The government should do that so why aren’t they?

    • Most EV owners charge their vehicles at home, not at a charging station.

  • There is no way in “H. e. l. l.” this can be pulled off without an extreme cost to everything and everyone involved. The people will not put up with that kind of surveillance and restrictions upon our right to move about freely, locking us down with new Administrative laws when only less than 1% of the 250 million cars on the road are EVs.

    As soon as Trump is reelected back in office most of this left leaning idiocy will disappear as he restarts our energy sector that Biden tried to destroy. Evs are not most people’s cup of tea, and we’ll be damned if we’ll put up with that kind of lockdown idiocy AGAIN !!!

    • I guess you missed the last government lock down. For the last several years, and in some places currently, people’s movements, associations and freedoms were curtailed or eliminated by a government “plandemic”. It’s all part of the same master plan; to control everybody and everything.

  • Charging ev drivers at superchargers doesn’t work very well since likely only !0% of their charging takes place there.If you wished to charge drivers for their impact another way would be a carbon tax or fee.That way everyone is encouraged to either use less,or make it themselves.Making it themselves (the energy)means a more diversified electric grid,more local jobs,less reliance upon the utility,And less pollution.

  • I have family in Norway. They have extremely high gasoline taxes and the also pay VMT. Our governments are monsters that have insatiable appetites for money.

  • Won’t go through, too much work and effort on the liberals’s part.

    What will go through is to tax electricity much more….even for those who do not have an EV. The gas tax will remain in place.

  • Here in the PRK, Peoples Republik of Kalifornia, we are already seeing this. When delivering for a local company, driving their vehicle on the highways, you would hear a click from inside the vehicle about every 2 miles.
    It has started.

  • Those taxes are used to pay for road maintenance? Not here in California, our roads in San Diego, La Jolla, Del Mar are haven’t been maintained in years! They do pot hole repairs and nothing else!!! Road maintenance funds were diverted away 20 years ago.

  • I live in Texas and have a Tesla. Texas passed a law this year charging Bev owners $200/yr tax to register such a vehicle because they do not pay state gasoline tax collected at the pump. $200 is arguably an increase of approximately 2x what the average non-Ev owner would pay in a year. The Texas rate of gasoline tax is $0.20/gal, thus $200 divided by $0.20 equals 1000 gallons taxed. If an average equivalent ICE car to my Tesla gets 30mpg, then I would have to drive such a vehicle 30,000 miles in a year to equal the $200 tax I will pay for my BEV. Average mileage of a car is ~15,000 miles, or about half of what BEV owners will pay.

  • So we can save the environment and get rid of fossil fuels by driving
    electric cars, right?

    Read this.


    Tesla said it best when they called it an Energy Storage System. That’s important.They do not make electricity– they store electricity produced elsewhere, primarily by coal, uranium, natural gas-powered plants, diesel-fueled generators or minerals. So, to say an Electric Vehicle (EV) is a zero-emission vehicle is not at all valid.

    Also, since twenty percent of the electricity generated in the U.S. is from coal-fire plants, it follows that forty percent of the EVs on the road are coal-powered, do you see? If not, read on.

    Einstein’s formula, E=MC2, tells us it takes the same amount of energy to move a five-thousand-pound gasoline-driven automobile a mile as it does an electric one. The only question again is what produces the power? To reiterate, it does not come from the battery; the battery is only the storage device, like a gas tank in a car.

    There are two orders of batteries, rechargeable, and single-use.  The most common single-use batteries are A, AA, AAA, C, D. 9V, and lantern types. Those dry-cell species use zinc, manganese, lithium, silver oxide, or zinc. Rechargeable batteries only differ in their internal materials, usually lithium-ion, nickel-metal oxide, and nickel-cadmium. The United States uses three billion of these two
    battery types a year, and most are not recycled; they end up in landfills. California is the only state which requires all batteries be recycled. If you throw your small, used batteries in the trash,
    here is what happens to them.

    All batteries are self-discharging. That means even when not in use, they leak tiny amounts of energy. You have likely ruined a flashlight or two from an old, ruptured battery. When a battery runs down and can no longer power a toy or light, you think of it as dead; well, it is not. It continues to leak small amounts of electricity.

    As the chemicals inside it run out, pressure builds inside the battery’s metal casing, and eventually, it cracks. The metals left inside then ooze out. The ooze in your ruined flashlight is toxic, and so is the ooze that will inevitably leak from every battery in a landfill. All batteries eventually rupture; it just takes
    rechargeable batteries longer to end up in the landfill.

    In addition to dry cell batteries, there are also wet cell ones used in automobiles, boats, and motorcycles. The good thing about those is, ninety percent of them are recycled. Unfortunately, we do not yet know how to recycle single-use ones properly.

    But that is not half of it. For those of you excited about electric cars and the green revolution look at batteries and also windmills and solar panels. These three technologies share what we call environmentally destructive embedded costs.

    Everything manufactured has two costs associated with it, embedded costs and operating costs. I will explain embedded costs using a can of baked beans as my subject. In this scenario, baked beans are on sale, so you jump in your car and head for the grocery store. Sure enough, there they are on the shelf for $1.75 a can. As you head to the checkout, you begin to think about the embedded costs in the can of beans.

    The first cost is the diesel fuel the farmer used to plow the field, till the ground, harvest the beans, and transport them to the food processor. Not only is his diesel fuel an embedded cost, so are the costs to build the tractors, combines, and trucks. In addition, the farmer might use a nitrogen fertilizer made from natural gas.

    Next is the energy costs of cooking the beans, heating the building, transporting the workers, and paying for the vast amounts of electricity used to run the plant. The steel can holding the beansis also an embedded cost. Making the steel can requires mining taconite, shipping it by boat, extracting the iron, placing it in a coal-fired blast furnace, and adding carbon. Then it’s back on another truck to take the beans to the grocery store. Finally, add in the cost of the gasoline for your car.

    A typical EV battery weighs one thousand pounds, about the size of a travel trunk. It contains twenty-five pounds of lithium, sixty pounds of nickel, 44 pounds of manganese, 30 pounds cobalt, 200 pounds of copper, and 400 pounds of aluminum, steel, and plastic. Inside are over 6,000 individual lithium-ion cells.

    It should concern you that all those toxic components come from mining. For instance, to manufacture each EV auto battery, you must process 25,000 pounds of brine for the lithium, 30,000 pounds of orefor the cobalt, 5,000 pounds of ore for the nickel, and 25,000 pounds of ore for copper. All told, you dig up 500,000 pounds of the earth’s crust for just one battery.”

    Sixty-eight percent of the world’s cobalt, a significant  part of a battery, comes from the Congo. Their mines have no pollution controls, and they employ children who die from handling this toxic material. Should we factor in these diseased kids as part of the cost of driving an electric car?” And the Chinese just bought most of these mines!

    California is building the largest battery in the world near San Francisco, and they intendto power it from solar panels and windmills. They claim this is the ultimate in being ‘green,’ but it is not! This construction project is creating an environmental disaster.

    The main problem with solar arrays is the chemicals needed to process silicate into the silicon used in the panels. To make pure enough silicon requires processing it with hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrogen fluoride, trichloroethane, and acetone. In addition, they also need gallium, arsenide, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride, which also are highly toxic. Silicone dust is a hazard to the workers, and the panels cannot be recycled.

    Windmills are the ultimate in embedded costs and environmental destruction. Each weighs 1688 tons (the equivalent of 23 houses) and contains 1300 tons of concrete, 295 tons of steel, 48 tons of iron,
    24 tons of fiberglass, and the hard to extract rare earths neodymium, praseodymium, and dysprosium. Each blade weighs 81,000 pounds and will last 15 to 20 years, at which time it must be replaced. We cannot recycle used blades. Sadly, both solar arrays and windmills kill birds, bats, sea life, and migratory insects.

    There may be a place for these technologies, but you must look beyond the myth of zero emissions. I predict EVs and windmills will be abandoned once the embedded environmental costs of making and
    replacing them become apparent. “Going Green” may sound like the Utopian ideal and are easily espoused, catchy buzzwords, but when you look at the hidden and embedded costs realistically with an open mind, you can see that Going Green is more destructive to the Earth’s environment than meets the eye, for sure.

  • Suddenly there’s a shortfall in revenue to maintain roads? Beg to differ. There have been shortfalls for many years, and not because of EV sales, but because the criminals in the legislatures are diverting those moneys, from sales and gas taxes, to their own corrupt priorities. California, as usual, leads the nation, in this corrupt regard. It’s the dem recipe: Raise taxes; waste the dough; cry shortfall; raise taxes to cure the shortfall. Repeat.

  • EV’s are much heavier and therefore much more damaging to the infrastructure that was designed with different weight parameters. They should pay accordingly.

  • Al the Washington D.C. Politicians all the United Nations all of Hollywood Greens should be made to ride in one for a whole year

  • It would not be that hard or complicated to charge a mileage tax. All they would have to do is put the tax on tires. If you buy a tire rated for 50,000 miles, then you pay the tax on 50,000 miles upfront when you sell the tire. You better have some wheel locks on your wheels – there will be a huge black market for stolen tires!

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