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Discussion in 'New England' started by cinergi, Dec 29, 2012.
Noticed this recently: State Electric Vehicle Incentives State Chart
I don't want to see MA state tax incentives on EVs. MA towns need all the money they can get right now, with the inane Prop. 2.5 starving them of funds, so they end up cutting the only things they can--schools and safety -in order to pay for things they cannot cut, like fuel and health care costs which are rising way more than 2.5% a year. I'm aware that at the current adoption rates, incentives on EVs are more symbolic than substantive and the amount of funds lost is trivial, but I'd rather see that money given to the towns than EV owners.
True story: I was charging my ActiveE one fine autumn Saturday at a ChargePoint station at Newton City Hall, while sitting in the car listening to the radio. Along comes a concerned citizen who spies my car charging there and asks in a very demanding tone "Is this a city vehicle?" When I tell him it isn't he instantly jumps to a certain conclusion and says "Do you think it's right for you to steal city resources for your private use?" Fortunately I was able to explain to him that I was not stealing electricity, and in fact was accounting for each kWh used with the ChargePoint RFID tag which is linked to my account. (What I didn't tell him was the price was $0.00 / kWh--but that's between Newton and ChargePoint!) Later, someone who works in the Mayor's office came by and wanted to take a picture of the car charging, in order "to show the Mayor it (the ChargePoint station) was actually being used!"
The point being people are very sensitive to "unfairness", especially at the local level. Tax incentives for EVs sends a bad message to non-EV purchasers, they don't see it as good thing that someone else gets off not paying while they have to. If MA really wants to incentivize EV purchases, then I think they'd be better off increasing taxes on gasoline, and using the money for a "say no to gasoline" PSA campaign to educate the public on the very real dangers of burning gasoline, the same way they educate the public on the dangers of using tobacco. Once the public understands that EVs are 1/4 cheaper to operate and better for the community, they'll see the advantages for themselves.
While I agree with @woof's concern that towns are being starved of tax revenues, an important role of tax policy is to encourage individual choices that promote the public welfare. EVs reduce local air and noise pollution, and so it's reasonable to grant them a preferred tax position. As @woof suggests, towns could be made revenue neutral by increasing gasoline taxes to offset reduced vehicle taxes.
One wrinkle I would introduce: I would only exempt the first $40,000 of the EVs purchase price. This cap would guard against the "it's only for rich people's expensive toys" argument.
Doesn't seem to be going anywhere, look at the "Bill History": Bill S.1490
Also, it's not as innocuous as it seems:
"SETION 1. Section 6 of chapter 64H of the general laws, as most recently appearing, is hereby amended by inserting at the end thereof the following new subsection:--
(yy) A battery electric vehicle (BEV), also known as an electric car, together with the battery recharging station shall be exempt from the sales tax, provided, however, that the owner agrees to pay a vehicle miles traveled tax established by regulation by the department of revenue collected as part of any battery rental agreement."
Of course MA finds a way to generate revenue from a law designed to elliminate sales tax, by adding a new tax! We didn't get the name "Taxachusetts" by accident. I wonder why it specifies as part of a battery rental agreement? They seem to be targeting something specific with that sentenence. Does that mean if we own the battery, we don't pay a "vehicle miles travelled tax"? If they are going to have a tax for miles driven, it needs to be on ALL vehicles, gasoline powered and EVs, owned or leased, doesn't matter. The fact that gasoline powered vehicles already have a gasoline tax added is fine, this is an additional fee for road maintenance, and a penalty for driving a stinker (taxed twice)