What once was the group of drivers given the most incentives could now be one of the more heavily taxed groups. Washington passed a state tax on electric vehicle owners to make up for the fact that the drivers aren’t paying gas taxes. The $100 annual fee takes effect this year.

The tax is meant to offset the cost of road maintenance. Some states have a toll road system that pays for the price of upkeep and expansion. Washington has a grand total of three tolls with two of them being on bridges. Fuel taxes account for a strong source of the state’s transportation budget considering residents pay about 37 cents on the gallon to the state.

In terms of who’s paying more for transportation, it’s hard to make a general statement. On one hand, the owners of electric vehicles received sales and tax incentives during the initial purchase. They do have to pay tax on the added electricity added to the bill. The average driver of a gas powered vehicle will probably spend about $200 on taxes per year in addition to the cost of fuel.

Washington’s contradictory policy on electric vehicles has some residents scratching their heads. For example, hybrids and vehicles that don’t exceed 35 miles per hour are exempt from the tax. Additionally, the state will encourage drivers to purchase electric vehicles with exemptions. Yet once the vehicle is purchased, the fee is introduced.

Some are more understanding of the fee, but point out that the blanket amount is short-sighted. The annual fee takes no account of the actual mileage or weight of the car, which makes all the difference in wear and tear on the roads. A sliding scale relative to the mileage of the car as well the model would be sensible, especially considering the fee is paid with registration anyway.

What’s more perplexing is that Washington isn’t flooded with electric vehicles. There are 1,600 registered to the state. The revenue wouldn’t cover the cost of a new electric car. Meanwhile, in 2011 California had 100,000 electric cars registered and the numbers were growing.