Washingtonians are one step closer to being able to buy an electric bicycle without paying state sales tax.
That’s thanks to progress on House Bill 1330.
The bill passed in the state House of Representatives last week and has nowmoved on to the state Senate.
The bill would remove sales and use tax on electric bicycles and related cycling equipment. The maximum exemption in the bill is set at $200.
With Washington’s 6.5% sales tax rate, e-bikes priced up to around $3,000 could be purchased without paying any sales tax, if the bill passes. Supporters of the bill argue that extra incentives are needed for electric bicycles compared to pedal bicycles due to the higher cost of the former, as well as e-bikes’ increased ability to replace cars as compared to pedal bicycles.
Rep Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham, who is known to cycle to work and for being a strong supporter of electric bicycles, explained the justification for the electric bicycle sales tax exemption:
“They really are a car replacement in the way a regular bike isn’t.”
E-bikes don’t just replace single-occupant trips, they can also serve as family trip replacements.
The bill could have multiple impacts, including helping to lower prices of electric bicycles to the point that more people can afford to make the switch from a car, as well as allowing riders to purchase higher quality e-bikes that will last longer and ultimately be more sustainable.
As Carolyn Eaton, owner of the Montlake Bicycle Shop, explained to theSeattle Times:
“I would hope that by not having the sales tax, the customer who only has that $1,500 budget, maybe they’re able to get something a little bit nicer in that $2,000 price range. Something that’s more reliable, more environmentally conscious, in the long term being something they can hold on to for many years.”
This wouldn’t be the first tax incentive for e-bikes under consideration in the US.
There is currently a bill working its way through Congressto create a federal tax incentive for 30% of the purchase price of an electric bicycle. That bill would have a major impact on the accessibility of e-bikes across the country, and we’ll continue to cover it as the bill progresses.
I think this is a wonderful idea and an important part of making electric bicycles more affordable for Washingtonians. Other states should look to Washington as an example.
The small amount of tax revenue “lost” through this program can easily be recuperated through the pile-on benefits of increased e-bike use, such as benefits caused by reduced load on local transportation infrastructure, reduced pollution, improved health of citizens resulting in lower medical. expenses, etc.
We’ve covered many budget-level e-bikes in the $600-$700 range, and there are some decent finds. But quality really improves when you hit the $1,400-$1,500 range and continues to rise in the higher price classes as well.
By helping riders buy slightly more expensive e-bikes, this will encourage the use of more sustainable e-bikes designed to function for many more years.
For the same reason, I fully support the proposed 30% e-bike tax credit bill. And I support Americans using their $1,400 stimulus check to purchase a new e-bike, assuming they have their basic necessities taken care of first. We’ll have more on that last subject soon.
Lastly, I’d just like to address those few that are going to get their spandex in a wad over pedal bicycles not being included. Here’s the deal: the point of the bill is to replace cars with e-bikes. That’s it. The reason most drivers aren’t switching to a pedal bike isn’t that they can’t afford it; it’s because they don’t want to be a sweaty mess trying to overcome hills and long pedal commutes. E-bikes are perfectly designed to solve that problem by taking the “edge” off of cycling by making hills less arduous and long commutes more manageable. And considering that several studies demonstrate that e-bikes offer almost as much exercise as pedal bikes, there are serious health benefits to consider in addition to just the transportation infrastructure benefits.