Longer-term followers of The Driven will well remember the furore caused by the Victorian government’s attempt to levy a road user charge on EV owners. At the time, it appeared they could not have done a worse job of it if they tried.

To recap:

  1. It was too early. To put a tax on EVs early in their adoption curve was sending a strong message against the buying of zero and low emission vehicles (ZLEVs). It was effectively putting a brake on EV adoption over buying the status quo of a fossil-fuelled vehicle. Even the Victorian opposition called it at the time a ‘bat-shit crazy’ tax.
  2. The tax structure was botched. Under the Fuel Excise, poor fuel economy vehicles pay more and fuel efficient vehicles less. (A good reason to choose more efficient cars!) However, the ZLEV road user was the same per kilometre whether you owned the most or least energy efficient EV. To put this in perspective the Australian Electric Vehicle Association position is in fact in support of a road user tax – provided it is well structured.
  3. It was effectively a Robotax.  This was because the system was rushed in and the legislation written to make it ‘unquestionable’. When I queried Vicroads over an obviously erroneous number: well, the counter staff agreed but found they could not correct the system. Head office then reviewed it, and steadfastly demanded my obviously 40% to high miscalculated amount. Even when I went to the Ombudsman, the government replied to the Ombudsman (who passed the ruling on to me) that the tax calculation was what the legislation demanded and the amount stood. Only when I stood my ground and my car was within days of being de-registered were Vicroads allowed to set up a system to fix the errors and recalculate erroneous amounts.
  4. It was found to be invalid. On October 18th last year, in a scene reminiscent of the film The Castle, the challenge brought on EV owners Kathleen Davies and Chris Vanderstock brought down the tax. The High Court summary was telling, with a very succinct summary. Is the tax invalid – yes. Who should pay the costs: the defendant.

 

So when it came to possibly repaying it after the High Court ruling – well suffice it to say Victorian EV owners did not have high expectations. Initially we didn’t even expect to see it returned, but the calls some EV owners received from Vicroads were both puzzling and surprising, as refunds were verbally promised. (This was well before the Victorian government actually announced they would do so).

Now it seems that the Victorian Government is bending over backwards to mollify their long-suffering EV community. Not only are the roads user charges being returning in full – the payments include all card payment fees, plus adding a very decent rate of interest.

In my case, I will receive almost $800 back – including over $45 in interest. Better in fact than if I had left it in the bank. (Perhaps I should have paid the over-calculated amount after all 😉

 

A curious part of the refund process is the included waiver to be signed in order to receive the refund. Clause (c) is the most interesting part: it requires that the refund recipient agrees “not to assert a claim or commence or maintain proceedings against the State arising out of, or in any way connected with, the ZLEV Payments”.

Seems they are a bit gun-shy of another court-room debacle – perhaps over the distress that the ZLEV road user charge caused many Victorian EV owners, especially after de-registering a number of them for non-payment of an invalid tax.

In my case, I am happy to agree – and will be donating the refund to a worthy charity. After all, I was never expecting to see that money again.

Extracted in full from: https://thedriven.io/2024/01/19/victoria-begins-refunds-of-worlds-worst-ev-road-tax/

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