A bill introduced into the Washington House of Representatives by Representative Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham) would exempt electric bikes, and up to $200 in bike accessories, from state sales taxes. HB 1330 would not apply to non-electric bikes, using the definition of ebike in state law, “bicycle with two or three wheels, a saddle, fully operative pedals for human propulsion, and an electric motor. The electric-assisted bicycle’s electric motor must have a power output of no more than seven hundred fifty watts”.
On Twitter, Rep. Shewmake explained her reasoning for confining the legislation to ebikes:
“My thinking was e-bikes are emerging tech and a car replacement. Haul kids, handle hills, more groceries! We give tax breaks to EVs but not e-bikes which are cheaper, don’t take up as much space, use less electricity, are FUN and a LOT cheaper but still suffer from sticker shock.”
As written, the exemption would take effect on August 1st of this year, and expire in 2027 or if $500,000 in sales taxes have been waived under the provision, whichever comes first. However, there’s also a provision that signals the intent of the legislature to extend the exemption if it’s successful, specifically if sales of ebikes go up 25% or more compared to 2020 levels.
Bike accessories that qualify for the exemption (up to $200) are defined as “cycling accessories commonly associated with bicycle ownership including, but not limited to, helmets, bicycle locks, fenders, lights, and a bicycle service or repair plan, purchased as part of the same transaction as an electric bicycle”.
This bill would be an easier pathway to providing a state-supported boost to ebike ownership than a frequently-discussed rebate program (which we should also be pursuing). The transportation package floated during the 2020 session actually included a special sales tax on bikes, which would match a similar fee passed in Oregon in 2017, but so far we’ve seen no indication that a transportation package in either legislative house will include a special bike tax.
To stand a chance getting through the legislature, the bill currently needs co-sponsors. Contact your local House members to ask them to add their name to HB 1330.