By JIM SMITH
I’ve been driving electric cars, buying little or no gasoline, since 2012, happy to be a freeloader when it comes to the cost of building and maintaining our state and federal roads and bridges.
But the adoption of electric cars is accelerating, as expected, to the point where we can’t continue to depend on gas and diesel taxes to pay for our transportation infrastructure.
Yes, I have paid a $50 registration fee each year for my EVs, but that doesn’t come close to paying my fair share of the costs, and it contributes nothing to the federal highway trust fund.
In Colorado, there is a 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax, plus an 18.4-cent federal gas tax. Rita and I drove our three EVs a total of 16,380 miles in 2020. If they had been fueled by gas and got 25 miles per gallon, we would have purchased 655 gallons, paying $271 in state and federal gas taxes.
Raising the gas tax makes no sense as fewer and fewer vehicles will be consuming gas in coming years.
As much as I’d like to keep being a freeloader in this regard, I am willing to pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled on my combined state and federal tax returns instead of paying $50 in annual registration fees per vehicle. This is referred to as a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax.
Critics of a VMT tax say people will lie about miles traveled, but our tax system is based on voluntary reporting, and mileage is easily audited now that cars, like Tesla, are connected to the internet.