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Should Electric Vehicle Drivers Pay Per Mile?
Since EV drivers zip past gas taxes, they don’t contribute to the federal fund for road maintenance. A new working paper tries to determine whether plug-ins should pay up.
More than 1 million electric cars are now zipping (quietly) around the United States. That’s still a tiny fraction of the nation’s 260 million-strong vehicle fleet, but EVs hit a sales record of 208,000 registrations in 2018.
The Highway Trust Fund, the federal government’s purse for road maintenance, depends on the 18 cents per gallon U.S. motorists pay in gasoline taxes. But it’s nearly insolvent, in part because Americans drive more fuel-efficient machines than before.
It is estimated that two-thirds of those foregone resources comes from households that make more than $100,000 in annual income, since EVs tend to be more expensive to purchase than conventional cars and are disproportionately driven by more affluent people. This suggests that the under-taxation of zero-emissions cars has a “regressive” effect—it hurts poorer Americans more than rich folks.
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