HARRISBURG, Pa. – According to some Pennsylvania lawmakers, most electric vehicle (EV) owners are unaware they have to pay a monthly tax for charging their EV. Some senators believe it’s a burden, and now, they’re looking to replace it.
According to PennDOT data, there were over five-times the number of registered EVs on Pennsylvania roads in 2022 than in 2018.
“EV adoption is growing, and this is our EV moment. Electric vehicles have a ton of benefits that they bring to the consumer and also to our country,” said Katherine Stainken, the Vice President of Policy for the Electrification Coalition.
“There’s also the public health benefits that come from switching to something that has zero tailpipe emissions,” said Stainken. “You’re going to see immense financial savings, and that’s savings on the fuel and also on the maintenance costs,” she added.
If you’re not fueling at the pump, you’re also not paying Pennsylvania’s 61 cents gas tax, which provides revenue for road and bridge repairs. Instead, EV owners are supposed to submit a monthly payment to the PA Department of Revenue for the electricity used to charge their vehicle. It’s a self-reporting tax known as the alternative fuel tax.
“It’s complicated. It requires you to keep track of all the electricity used to charge your vehicle, regardless of where you charge it,” said Sen. Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland/Dauphin/Perry).
“It’s very cumbersome,” said Rothman, adding that it’s not working as it should. “We believe that only ten percent of electric vehicle drivers actually pay the tax, and probably not much more than that know about it,” said Rothman.
That’s why Rothman proposed legislation to eliminate the alternative fuel tax and replace it with an electric vehicle fee of $290 annually, or just over $24 per month. He says it could be paid monthly via debit or credit card.
“You’re paying less than a dollar a day to drive on Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges,” said Rothman. “I don’t think electric vehicle drivers are going to object to paying their fair share,” he added.
Rothman says the flat fee was calculated to reflect the rate of the gas tax, which is one of the highest in the nation. He says it’s millions more for infrastructure, if the bill is signed into law.
“If you think about it right now, it’s going to generate over $20 million. As we go to more and more vehicles that are electric based, that number could go to 100 million or a billion,” said Rothman. “Even the most conservative Republican believes that roads are a core function of government,” he added.
Stainken believes it’s important to weigh all the benefits and potential savings that come with EV’s before enacting any type of EV fee. She wants to ensure the state doesn’t discourage drivers from making the switch to electric.
“We don’t want to see anything punitive out there for EVs. We want to be sure that it is a fair fee,” said Stainken.
Rothman’s SB 656 made it out of committee with bipartisan support. He’s hoping to see it incorporated into the budget so that PennDOT could put those dollars to work as soon as possible.