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Two electric vehicle (EV) owners have gone to the High Court in Canberra to challenge the road-user tax imposed on EV drivers in Victoria.

The road-user tax is determined by the distance travelled and the vehicle type, which is declared by the owner after the annual registration period.

Drivers Christopher Vanderstock and Kathleen Davies have gone to the High Court to determine whether the levy on Victorian drivers is constitutional and requesting the law be removed on the basis the state does not have the power to impose the charge.

The case will determine whether the charge amounts to an excise or not, as under the constitution only the Commonwealth can impose an excise charge.

The levy was introduced to Victoria in 2021 and sparked debate as some saw the charge as a discouraging factor for those looking to purchase an EV.

“Victoria is already massively behind comparable jurisdictions in the US, the UK, and across Europe in terms of electric car uptake,” Behyad Jafari, CEO of the Electric Vehicle Council, said at the time.

“Far from being on track to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, emissions from transport are rising in Victoria. This is the wrong time to tax zero emissions vehicles,” Mr Jafari said.

The case may have a larger effect on state and Commonwealth government alike as it demands to clearly outline what can be taxed by the states before clashing with Commonwealth jurisdiction.

“An excise is in essence a tax on some step taken in dealing with goods,” the Commonwealth submissions said.