Utah Congress is discussing the creation of an extra tax on hybrid and electric vehicles. The main reason given for such a tax is that it would make up for the income lost from taxes on fuel. It is true that tax money is needed for highway maintenance and construction.
Air pollution is perhaps the biggest public threat we are facing today. A very large percentage of that pollution is caused by exhaust emissions from motorized vehicles. Although some people might have been buying hybrid and electric vehicles to avoid the gas tax, it is far more likely those purchases have been made in an effort to help clean up the air.
Punishing climate conscious citizens with double taxation could be a driving force to cause them to go back to gas guzzlers. How could tax money be raised without the suggested penalty? One of the biggest destructive forces on a highway, other than weather and sun, is the pounding of the tires of each vehicle. Little can be done about wet/dry, freeze/thaw, and sun damage. But there are two tire factors that loom large. They are the pounding out of balance tires and the punching power of tires in pounds per square inch. Taxing only by vehicle weight is a fallacy. How many pounds per square inch of tire that is touching the road reveals the actual punching power.
Double taxing of hybrid and electric vehicles seems to be a legislative “easy-out” and results in regressive legislation. It can be done quickly, but without much real thought or investigation. Finding a “punching power” formula for all of the different models of cars, trucks, etc. would be a major undertaking, but it would be wiser and progressive. Vehicle manufacturers could easily provide all of that information to the state if they had the incentive. Petroleum companies will also fight hard to prevent the loss of sales. However, we need to move away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Punishing those who have chosen “go electric” is just plain wrong.
Paul R. Joines