As the world desperately tries transition to electric vehicles to stop climate change and clean up our city air, Victoria’s regressive EV road user tax has reportedly resulted in the registration for 240 of the state’s electric vehicles being cancelled.
Described as “the world’s worst EV policy” the Zero and Low-Emission Vehicle road user charge is a fee on every kilometre an EV driver travels each year.
Introduced in July 2021, the ZLEV (better known as “The EV Tax”) charges 2.6c for every kilometre driven by EVs inside or outside the state of Victoria. It also applies to plug in hybrids, although at a different rate.
This week, VicRoads Registration and Licensing Services chief operations officer Michael Hooper is quoted in an AAP report as saying 243 car registrations had been cancelled since the law was introduced, which he described as a small percentage of those charged the fee.
“Less than one per cent of ZLEV-registered operators have had their registration cancelled from non-declaration of odometer readings,” he said.
“Registered operators have 14 days from the date of request to provide their odometer reading.”
The Driven has sought to verify those numbers independently and is seeking comment from the Victorian state government.
New from me – Australia’s first electric vehicle tax has seen more than 240 vehicles deregistered, and at least one driver said she had no idea her car’s rego had been cancelled. https://t.co/uRrXXaDAbc via @AAPNewswire
— Jen Dudley-Nicholson (@jendudley) February 28, 2023
AAP also reports that one Victorian EV driver said the tax had caused her registration to be cancelled without her knowledge. while she continued to drive the unregistered EV unaware for 6 months.
Feedback from Victorian EV drivers suggests that the reporting process is quite laborious – drivers musk submit a photo of their car’s odometer annually to calculate the tax owning.
The AAP report says that the Victorian government suspends vehicle registrations if their owners fail to pay ZLEV charges within 56 days and cancels registrations within 78 days.
The highly unpopular tax is currently facing a High Court challenge for what the plaintiffs say is an “unconstitutional” charge.
Equity Generation Lawyers, who are representing two EV driving plaintiffs Chris Vanderstock and Kath Davies, argue that the State of Victoria lacks the constitutional authority to impose such a charge. The basis of their claim is section 90 of the Commonwealth Constitution, which reserves the exclusive power to levy duties of excise for the Commonwealth.
South Australian government fulfills election promise to axe the EV tax
The South Australian Labor Party went to last year’s state election promising to scrap SA’s EV tax. A promise they delivered when “The Repeal Bill” passed through the SA parliament earlier this month.
In a statement regarding the passing of repeal bill, the South Australian Labor government said that the former Treasurer had “spruiked the Liberal levy as a substitute for federal fuel excise, but it was rather a stealth tax – with a hidden cost for the environment.”
South Australian Minister for Transport Tom Koutsantonis went further saying: “This backwards-thinking tax was another betrayal of the Liberals’ low-taxing rhetoric, as well as a betrayal of the pursuit of Clean Energy solutions.”
“South Australians want to see their State Government incentivising the take-up of electric vehicles, not slugging users with extra costs.” Koutsantonis said.
With the SA government scrapping the unpopular tax, Victoria is now the only state in Australia and possibly the only place in the world that actually taxes electric vehicles.
All eyes will be on the High Court’s decision in April to see if the tax is indeed unconstitutional.
The High Court timetable gives the Commonwealth until mid-March to reply to the interveners. After this, Victoria has a right of reply to the Commonwealth which is due by mid-April.
The judges decision is anticipated to be handed down between late May and July.
Daniel Bleakley is a clean technology researcher and advocate with a background in engineering and business. He has a strong interest in electric vehicles, renewable energy, manufacturing and public policy.