Is Proposed Illinois $1,000 Electric Vehicle Tax Hike Fair?

I answer a lot of questions on Quora. Many of those questions are about automotive things that may be of interest to CarNewsCafe readers. Like this one.

Is the proposed hike in Illinois’ annual registration fee for electric vehicles, at over 1000 dollars per year unfair and will slow sales of electric cars in the Chicago area?

My Answer: It’s unlikely to pass. The legislation appears to have been made largely as a publicity stunt to showcase how much cheaper it is (tax-wise) to own and operate a battery electric car.

The average car owner in Illinois pays somewhere around $432 in taxes for their vehicle annually. Title and registration fees are $196 (average) for most vehicles. The average Illinois driver puts about 12,600 miles on a car annually. At roughly 20 mpg average, that’s the other $236 in costs. Currently, EV owners pay only $18 per year. Further, they are listed as “protected” and that cost is fixed.

The point of the push for a higher EV tax in Illinois seems to be for publicity purposes and it illustrates important points.

The EV buyer, who’s demographically more likely to be wealthier than the average, gets a bunch of tax breaks for buying electric. That doesn’t seem fair. Especially considering that EV owners are statistically more likely to put more miles on their vehicles than average, they’re using the roads more. (Statistics say that the more efficient the vehicle, the more mileage the vehicle tends to clock annually.) Yet they pay far less for those roads. Hardly fair.

Illinois is just the latest in the “who pays for the roads?” argument stream that’s cropped up as electric vehicles proliferate. The same arguments have been made in Washington, Oregon, etc. They’ll keep happening until solutions are found.

My personal favorite is a tax on tires. The more you use your vehicle, the more it goes through tires and thus the more often they’re replaced. Further, tires are rated by GVW and the heavier the vehicle, the more wear it puts on roads. Finally, tires are universal. If a mileage usage tax is based on tires, it covers all of the bases without becoming intrusive to anyone’s personal travel rights and has no onus of “tracking” or the like.

Then more stringent enforcement of fines for unsafe tires—say by adding an automatic ticket or fault should a vehicle get into a wreck while having unsafe tires—and the problem seems solved.

Aaron Turpen
An automotive enthusiast for most of his adult life, Aaron has worked in and around the industry in many ways. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press (RMAP), the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA), and freelances as a writer and journalist around the Web and in print. You can find his portfolio at