Legislators Revolt Against Their Own Revolting Hybrid Tax

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The General Assembly is falling all over itself to repeal the annual license tax on hybrid vehicles.


The tax should fall and break its neck.

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It is the kind of tax that would have inked Thomas Jefferson’s quill and sharpened George Washington’s sword. Part of the funding mechanism for the so-called massive transportation package passed by legislators last year—massive, perhaps, for every region of the state but our own—the tax was initially $100.

Per year.

The tax—they tried to call it an annual fee—placed an unfair burden on the owners of one type of vehicle, and one that would help ease our dependence on OPEC while doing better things for the environment.

And that deserved punishment?

Hardly anyone outside the state capitol thought so and there has since been a Vulcan mind meld—my thoughts to your thoughts—among infuriated constituents and delegates and senators who imposed a tax. Had there been a General Assembly ship full of tea in the James River many would have gladly boarded that vessel and dumped the tea in the river, making it a hybrid tea-water river.

Outrage forced Governor McDonnell to almost immediately reduce the tax down to $64 last spring but that didn’t take anger off the boil. Two of the bills under consideration now would not only repeal the tax but would also direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to refund any portion of the tax paid by a vehicle owner that is attributable to registration years beginning on or after July 1, 2014. Over 75,000 Virginia drivers have paid the hybrid vehicle tax.

And they should not have been forced to do so.

The General Assembly has shifted gears on this issue and is moving in the direction of fairness and commons sense.