States With the Highest (and Lowest) Gas Taxes

February 3, 2017 by Sam Stebbins

Pumping gas tax money
Source: Thinkstock
The federal government has some $51.4 billion in its coffers, primarily set aside for road construction and repair. These funds are raised from a federally imposed 18.4 cent tax on every gallon of gas purchased on American soil. On top of the federal tax, each state collects its own tax on every gallon of gas sold.

Just as the cost of gasoline varies considerably from state to state, so does the effective tax rate. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the amount each state levies per gallon of fuel to identify the states with the highest and lowest gas tax.

Just like federal taxes on gasoline, state-imposed gas taxes are primarily used for road repair and new road construction. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Scott Drenkard, director of state projects at the Tax Foundation, explained that gas taxes are designed to function as a sort of user fee. “It’s similar to a user fee in that it connects the users of roads with the costs of their provision and maintenance,” Drenkard said. Indeed, individuals who drive more will contribute to more wear and tear on road surfaces — but they will also end up funding more road repair through the tax they pay on their fuel consumption.

Click here to see the states with the highest (and lowest) gas taxes.

Despite the tax structure’s logical design, gas taxes are not enough to cover the cost of road construction and maintenance. According to Drenkard, gas taxes are particularly unpopular, and as a result, “they are not really high enough to pay for all state and local spending.” User fees, such as gas taxes and tolls, cover only 52.5% of state and local road spending, according to Drenkard.

With such considerable funding shortfalls, it is likely no coincidence that a large share of the nation’s roads are in mediocre or poor condition. According to a report released by the American Society of Civil Engineers, some 32% of major U.S. roadways are in sub-optimal condition. In some parts of the country, the problem is far more pronounced. In 23 states, over half of all roads are in need of some repair.

Partially because gas taxes can be so politically unpopular, some states have not increased per-gallon taxes in decades. Even the federally imposed 18.4 cent gas tax has remained the same since 1993. This pattern is not universal, however. South Carolina, a state with exceptionally low gas taxes, is one of more than a dozen states that may soon initiate modest increases. In addition, seven states, including Pennsylvania, the state with the highest per gallon gas tax, increased tax rates on January 1, 2017.

The amount a state chooses to tax per gallon of gas is only one factor contributing to prices at the pump. The most significant contributor to the cost of gasoline across the country is the price of crude oil, which is largely dictated by global supply and demand. Refining costs also comprise a considerable share of the final price of fuel.

The differences in gas prices between states are largely determined by both taxes and fuel transportation costs related to the distance from supply sources, such as refineries and pipelines. In general, gas prices tend to be higher in states with higher taxes. Depending on the state, gas taxes, including the 18.4 cent federal tax, account for anywhere between 11.0% and 29.5% of the total per gallon cost. As of mid-January, the average price of gasoline ranged from $2.07 a gallon in South Carolina to over $3.00 a gallon in Hawaii.

To identify the states with the highest and lowest gas taxes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed state and average local gas taxes from the American Petroleum Institute. Average gas prices as of January 24, 2017 for each state came from AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report. We also reviewed average annual vehicle miles travelled in each state from the Federal Highway Administration. The share of roads in poor or mediocre condition came from the American Society of Civil Engineer’s Report Card For America’s Infrastructure, which used data from the Federal Highway Administration. All data are as of the most recent period available.

These are the states with the highest, and lowest, gas prices.

Philadelphia skyline - Pennsylvania - USA United States of America
Source: Thinkstock

1. Pennsylvania
> State gas tax: 58.2 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.60 / gal. (5th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 29.5% (the highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 57% (16th highest)

Leavenworth, Washington
Source: Thinkstock

2. Washington
> State gas tax: 49.4 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.74 / gal. (4th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 24.8% (4th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 67% (8th highest)

Panorama Highway, Big Island, Hawaii
Source: Thinkstock

3. Hawaii
> State gas tax: 44.4 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $3.07 / gal. (the highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.4% (23rd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 49% (tied – 24th highest)

Rush hour in Times Square in New York City, NY, USA
Source: Thinkstock

4. New York
> State gas tax: 43.9 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.52 / gal. (7th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 24.7% (5th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 60% (14th highest)

Michigan winter driving
Source: Thinkstock

5. Michigan
> State gas tax: 40.4 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.27 / gal. (22nd lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 26.0% (2nd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 38% (tied – 10th lowest)

Highway Connecticut
Source: Thinkstock

6. Connecticut
> State gas tax: 39.9 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.46 / gal. (tied – 8th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 23.7% (7th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 73% (tied – the highest)

Interchange, Compton, California
Source: Thinkstock

7. California
> State gas tax: 38.1 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.80 / gal. (2nd highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.2% (25th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 68% (7th highest)

New Jersey
Source: Thinkstock

8. New Jersey
> State gas tax: 37.1 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.40 / gal. (11th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 23.1% (9th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 66% (9th highest)

Miami, Florida
Source: Thinkstock

9. Florida
> State gas tax: 36.8 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.34 / gal. (tied – 16th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 23.6% (8th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 26% (6th lowest)

Asheville, North Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

10. North Carolina
> State gas tax: 34.6 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.22 / gal. (17th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 23.9% (6th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 45% (tied – 19th lowest)

Bridge in downtown Chicago, Illinois
Source: Thinkstock

11. Illinois
> State gas tax: 34.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.34 / gal. (18th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 22.4% (12th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 73% (tied – the highest)

Tugboats in the harbor of an Ocean in Rhode Island
Source: Thinkstock

12. Rhode Island
> State gas tax: 34.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.32 / gal. (21st highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 22.6% (10th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 70% (tied – 4th highest)

Aerial view of Cloverleaf Freeway Intersection in South Bend, Indiana
Source: Thinkstock

13. Indiana
> State gas tax: 33.6 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.09 / gal. (2nd lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 24.8% (3rd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 17% (the lowest)

Desert road Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
Source: Thinkstock

14. Nevada
> State gas tax: 33.5 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.46 / gal. (tied – 8th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 21.1% (19th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 20% (3rd lowest)

Maryland
Source: Thinkstock

15. Maryland
> State gas tax: 33.5 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.33 / gal. (20th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 22.3% (13th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 55% (17th highest)

Welcome sign to Idaho State
Source: Thinkstock

16. Idaho
> State gas tax: 33.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.37 / gal. (13th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 21.7% (16th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 45% (tied – 19th lowest)

Traditional american red farm with tractor, Wisconsin
Source: Thinkstock

17. Wisconsin
> State gas tax: 32.9 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.31 / gal. (23rd highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 22.2% (14th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 71% (3rd highest)

New River Bridge West Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

18. West Virginia
> State gas tax: 32.2 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.36 / gal. (15th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 21.5% (17th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 47% (tied – 23rd lowest)

mountain road snow winter trees, Bend, Oregon
Source: Thinkstock

19. Oregon
> State gas tax: 31.1 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.54 / gal. (6th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 19.5% (20th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 65% (10th highest)

20. Georgia
> State gas tax: 31.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.21 / gal. (16th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 22.4% (11th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 19% (2nd lowest)

Iowa
Source: Thinkstock

21. Iowa
> State gas tax: 30.7 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.34 / gal. (19th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 21.0% (20th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 46% (22nd lowest)

Welcome sign of the state of Vermont
Source: Thinkstock

22. Vermont
> State gas tax: 30.5 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.37 / gal. (12th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.6% (22nd highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 45% (tied – 19th lowest)

Portland Fishing Harbour at Sunset, Maine
Source: Thinkstock

23. Maine
> State gas tax: 30.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.40 / gal. (10th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.1% (24th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 53% (19th highest)

The four presidents at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota
Source: Thinkstock

24. South Dakota
> State gas tax: 30.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.34 / gal. (tied – 16th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.7% (21st highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 61% (13th highest)

Road leading towards a mountain, Wendover Peak, Utah, USA
Source: Thinkstock

25. Utah
> State gas tax: 29.4 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.25 / gal. (21st lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 21.2% (18th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 25% (tied – 4th lowest)

Speed of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Source: Thinkstock

26. Minnesota
> State gas tax: 28.6 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.30 / gal. (24th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.4% (25th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 52% (tied – 20th highest)

Nebraska sign
Source: Thinkstock

27. Nebraska
> State gas tax: 28.2 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.37 / gal. (14th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 19.7% (22nd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 59% (15th highest)

Cincinnati, Ohio
Source: Thinkstock

28. Ohio
> State gas tax: 28.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.11 / gal. (5th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 22.0% (15th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 42% (tied – 15th lowest)

Road to Church, sunset on Mustard Fields, Kalispell Montana
Source: Thinkstock

29. Montana
> State gas tax: 27.8 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.30 / gal. (25th highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.0% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 52% (tied – 20th highest)

Welcome to Massachusetts
Source: Thinkstock

30. Massachusetts
> State gas tax: 26.5 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.31 / gal. (22nd highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 19.4% (19th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 42% (tied – 15th lowest)

Bridge Rush Hour in Louisville, Kentucky Skyline at Sunrise
Source: Thinkstock

31. Kentucky
> State gas tax: 26.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.17 / gal. (12th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 20.4% (24th highest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 34% (8th lowest)

Welcome to Kansas
Source: Thinkstock

32. Kansas
> State gas tax: 24.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.19 / gal. (15th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 19.3% (18th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 62% (tied – 11th highest)

Wyoming Winter Traffic Jam
Source: Thinkstock

33. Wyoming
> State gas tax: 24.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.22 / gal. (18th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 19.1% (17th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 47% (tied – 23rd lowest)

Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Rockingham County
Source: Thinkstock

34. New Hampshire
> State gas tax: 23.8 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.28 / gal. (23rd lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.5% (13th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 54% (18th highest)

North Dakota, Oil Rig
Source: Thinkstock

35. North Dakota
> State gas tax: 23.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.29 / gal. (25th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.1% (9th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 44% (tied – 17th lowest)

Alabama
Source: Thinkstock

36. Alabama
> State gas tax: 23.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.10 / gal. (4th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 19.7% (21st lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 25% (tied – 4th lowest)

Wilmington, Delaware Memorial Bridge
Source: Thinkstock

37. Delaware
> State gas tax: 22.9 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.29 / gal. (24th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.1% (10th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 36% (9th lowest)

Virginia
Source: Thinkstock

38. Virginia
> State gas tax: 22.4 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.18 / gal. (13th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.7% (14th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 47% (tied – 23rd lowest)

Mountains Road in Colorado
Source: Thinkstock

39. Colorado
> State gas tax: 22.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.24 / gal. (20th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.1% (11th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 70% (tied – 4th highest)

Arkansas
Source: Thinkstock

40. Arkansas
> State gas tax: 21.8 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.13 / gal. (9th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.9% (15th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 39% (13th lowest)

Downtown Nashville
Source: Thinkstock

41. Tennessee
> State gas tax: 21.4 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.10 / gal. (3rd lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.9% (16th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 38% (tied – 10th lowest)

Aerial view of downtown New Orleans, Louisiana
Source: Thinkstock

42. Louisiana
> State gas tax: 20.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.17 / gal. (11th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 17.7% (8th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 62% (tied – 11th highest)

Austin, Texas
Source: Thinkstock

43. Texas
> State gas tax: 20.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.12 / gal. (8th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 18.1% (12th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 38% (tied – 10th lowest)

Road to Superstition Mountain Arizona
Source: Thinkstock

44. Arizona
> State gas tax: 19.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.18 / gal. (14th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 17.1% (6th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 52% (tied – 20th highest)

Vicksburg Bridge, Mississippi
Source: Thinkstock

45. Mississippi
> State gas tax: 18.9 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.11 / gal. (6th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 17.7% (7th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 51% (23rd highest)

highway bridges near Albuquerque new mexico
Source: Thinkstock

46. New Mexico
> State gas tax: 18.8 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.23 / gal. (19th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 16.7% (3rd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 44% (tied – 17th lowest)

Downtown St. Louis, Missouri with the Gateway Arch.
Source: Thinkstock

47. Missouri
> State gas tax: 17.3 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.15 / gal. (10th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 16.6% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 31% (7th lowest)

Fracking oil rig drills in Oklahoma field, gas extraction
Source: Thinkstock

48. Oklahoma
> State gas tax: 17.0 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.12 / gal. (7th lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 16.7% (4th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 70% (tied – 4th highest)

Traffic Out of Charleston, South Carolina
Source: Thinkstock

49. South Carolina
> State gas tax: 16.8 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.07 / gal. (the lowest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 17.0% (5th lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 40% (14th lowest)

Oil Pipeline, Alaska
Source: Thinkstock

50. Alaska
> State gas tax: 12.3 cents / gal.
> Gas price: $2.77 / gal. (3rd highest)
> State + fed. taxes as pct. of gas price: 11.0% (the lowest)
> Pct. of roadway in sub-optimal condition: 49% (tied – 24th highest)