Maine Proposes Tax for Owning an Electric or Hybrid Car

Owning a hybrid or electric car in Maine could get more expensive. Governor Paul LePage's administration has proposed an annual fee for people who own environmentally-friendly cars.

Hybrid car owners would pay an annual $150 fee, and electric car owners would pay $250.

"It's a fairness issue," said Maine DOT Commissioner David Bernhardt.

The annual fee would go toward the state's Highway Fund.

Bernhardt says other drivers contribute to the highway fund by paying the gas tax.

"[Hybrid or electric car owners] use the highway system, yet they pay nothing toward it," said Commissioner Bernhardt.

Other states impose similar fees, but Maine's would be the highest in the nation.

"No one that I know who owns an electric vehicle wants to avoid paying road tax -- we just want it done fairly," said Tony Giambro, who owns Paris Autobarn, a garage that specializes in hybrid and electric cars.

Giambro owns a Kia Sol electric vehicle and drives few miles a year.

"A flat fee on me would make me pay more in road tax than someone who owns a gas car," he said.

He says a fee structure that is based on mileage would be more fair.

Giambro worries this proposed fee could deter people from buying environmentally-friendly vehicles. He will be attending a public hearing for the proposed legislation at the Maine State House Tuesday afternoon.

"Let's re-work the system," he said, "so it's fair for everybody."

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