Beginning in 2000, legislation imposed a $50 annual tax on electric vehicles. The transportation legislation of 2013 raised that tax from $50 to $64 and included hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles as well. The $64 annual tax went into effect in July.
The theory behind the tax was that, since hybrid cars use less gasoline, drivers of hybrid cars pay less in gasoline taxes and therefore do not contribute as much as other drivers to the tax funds that help maintain Virginia roads and support Metro and other such projects.
Rust said he agrees that drivers of electric vehicles, which use no gas, should have to pay the tax, but said that adding in hybrid vehicles is "unfair and punitive."
“Hybrid drivers pay gas taxes. It’s that simple. They have to fill up their car at the gas station just like others on the roads," Rust said in a statement. "It is unfair to treat them the same as someone who doesn’t pay any gas tax."
"We should be encouraging people to purchase and drive hybrids—not punishing them," he added.
Rust said, in fact, since hybrid vehicles tend to get fewer miles per gallon of gasoline than regular cars, they may even pay more in gas taxes.
"For example, the Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets 28 miles per gallon (highway) while the Toyota Corolla gets 34 miles per gallon (highway). Driving the same number of miles, the driver of the Highlander Hybrid will pay more for gas than the Corolla driver, and be subject to the $64 tax," Rust's office said in a statement.
Del. Rust is not the only delegate to denounce the tax.
State Senator Janet Howell (D-Reston) said the tax "made her want to gag." State Senator Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria) and Del. Scott Surovell (D-Mount Vernon) called it "a tax on virtue" and have also expressed interest in repealing it.
“I look forward to introducing this legislation with my chief co-patron Delegate Hugo, and to delivering relief to hybrid drivers across Virginia,” Rust said this week.
Rust is currently running for re-election to his position in the House of Delegates. If he is re-elected, Speaker of the House William J. Howell has announced he plans to appoint him chair of the Transportation Committee.
TELL US - Do you think the tax on hybrid cars should be repealed? What about electric cars - do you agree they should pay the tax since they use no gasoline? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.
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