Last month Virginia governor Bob McDonnell signed a gas tax bill that has attracted attention from states around the nation. The new tax legislation lowers the gas tax for Virginia drivers, while at the same time slapping a $64 annual flat tax on drivers of hybrid vehicles.
Virginia lawmakers, like their counterparts in other parts of the nation, are grappling with declining revenue from gasoline taxes. This drop is the result of a variety of factors, from historically stagnant gas tax rates to a dip in the amount of driving people have been doing overall since the onset of the recession.
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With the increasing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles, legislators have been forced to get creative to continue to extract tax revenue from drivers. Virginia lawmakers reasoned that since hybrid and electric vehicle owners are creating as much wear and tear on roads and bridges as drivers of conventional vehicles but are paying less into the state’s kitty to repair roadways, the $64 annual tax helps to plug the hole in Virginia’s coffers.
Virginia isn’t the only state to consider slapping an annual tax on green vehicles. According to USA Today, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Idaho, and Arizona are considering similar legislation. Virginia is unique, though, in its move to lower the gas tax on the whole while at the same time creating a new tax for a subset of drivers. Environmentalists claim that this specific action seems to have been designed to disincentivize the purchase of earth-friendly vehicles, but proponents contest that, in order to keep Virginia roadways safe, they’re left with very few options.
Would a tax like Virginia’s discourage you from purchasing a green vehicle?