Electric car advocates are still seeking an extension for a state sales tax break “on top of the existing federal tax credit they receive of $7,500.” And, according to the Washington Policy Center, top advocate JJ McCoy of the Seattle Electric Vehicle Association is using phony metrics to convince lawmakers to extend the tax break. The break costs Washington State about $10 million a year and benefits predominately the wealthiest 10 percent of Washington residents.
The Washington Policy Center points out McCoy’s claims don’t quite measure up to reality. McCoy asserts that an electric car tax break would lead to an environmental benefit value of $18 million over the course of the four additional years the tax break (at a cost of $39 million) would be extended. That math is very, very wrong. The Washington Policy Center,
“Using the correct calculation, it is actually a loss of $36.4 million to subsidize wealthy electric car buyers. Put another way, for every dollar the state provides subsidizing electric cars to reduce carbon, more than 93 cents is wasted. Nobody who is serious about cutting carbon emissions would advocate such a wasteful environmental policy.”
An analysis conducted by the Washington Policy Center’s Todd Myer proved that “even in the best circumstances,” a sales tax exemption on electric vehicles “costs $136.41 to reduce one ton of carbon.” To put it into perspective, that is “more than ten times the cost to reduce a ton of carbon compared to investing in projects that reduce carbon… Instead of reducing 10 tons of CO2, the state only reduces one.”
Jay Inslee’s originally pushed for a sales tax extension not to benefit the environment, but for political gain at the expense of working families. As Myers put it, the policy essentially taxes “working families to give tax breaks to people who can afford” an electric car, buyers who “are extremely price insensitive and it is unlikely that any of them would have decided not to buy the car without the sales tax break.”
Electric vehicle incentive policies are not about fighting global warming, they are “political touchstones for politicians who want to appear they are doing something by associating with a cool, new technology.”