After this week’s High Court ruling, Victorian plug-in hybrid and electric-vehicle owners could be waiting months to find out if they’re going to be refunded for the unlawful road-user charge.
Victorian owners of electric and plug-in hybrid cars have been asked to be patient as authorities work through this week’s 393-page High Court judgement that ruled the charges were unconstitutional.
In the landmark ruling, a majority of High Court judges found Victoria’s Zero- and Low-Emissions Vehicle (ZLEV) road-user levy – which, since 2021, has charged those with plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles for every kilometre driven – was unlawful under the Australian Constitution.
In an email to owners of affected electric and plug-in hybrid cars, VicRoads asked for patience, stating that due to “the complexity it may some time to work through what this means for you”.
“The State of Victoria is clearly considering how to appropriately deal with prior payments [collected] under the levy,” Barrister and taxation law expert Gareth Redenbach told Drive.
“It will take at least weeks and more likely months for Victoria to reach and implement a fully-considered response,” he added.
“It is unlikely individual road users would have any advantage from incurring the cost for specific legal advice on their situation prior to any formal government response,” he said.
he High Court decision – which came down to four judges agreeing it was unlawful, and three judges disagreeing – is understood to have caused a stir among taxation and constitutional law circles.
However, Mr Redenbach told Drive the legal implications of the High Court decision could be far-reaching – with state-imposed excises beyond the electric and plug-in hybrid road-user charge now coming into question.
“There are likely to be broader questions of what other state taxes may be unallowable as excises raised by the decision. This is likely one reason all other states support the position of Victoria in the litigation,” Mr Redenbach said.