There has been a debate among politicians in many states. Some want to cut state gas taxes to stimulate their economies as gasoline prices surge due to a run-up in crude oil prices. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested that the state suspend the tax completely for at least six months. Several states increased gas taxes last year as a means to bring in more money for state budgets. These debates will continue.
Crude oil prices have almost doubled in the past year to nearly $90 a barrel, which means $4 per gallon gas prices are not far behind. At some point, consumers who drive a great deal will start to see a meaningful part of their discretionary incomes disappear, a challenge for America’s ongoing economic growth.
Gas taxes do exacerbate the high gas price problem. Most of the states with high gas taxes also have the highest total price per gallon for gasoline. Their budgets may benefit from the income, but the consumers in these states are more likely to have their household budgets hurt.
To determine the state with the highest gas taxes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed data on average state gas taxes in January 2022 from the American Petroleum Institute. Already built into the price of a gallon of gas is the federal government tax of 18.4 cents. Each state also adds an excise tax. State-levied taxes and fees can account for anywhere from roughly 5% to more than 20% of the total cost of gas. (Note that taxes on diesel fuel are higher than those on gasoline in most states.) Federal and state governments have directed that revenue from gasoline taxes go to fund road construction and repair.
The price of gasoline has been a sore spot for inflation-strapped consumers. From December 2020 to December 2021, the energy index portion of the consumer price index leaped 29.3%, boosting the overall index by 7%, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982.
Data on state gas tax totals does not include the federal gas tax. Supplemental data on average prices for regular gas by state came from the AAA. Prices are current as of Jan. 14, 2021. Annual vehicle miles traveled per driver was calculated using data on total vehicle miles traveled in 2020 from the Federal Highway Administration and an estimate of the number of licensed drivers in 2020 based on administration data for the number of those drivers in 2019. Population data for 2020 came from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The state with the highest gas tax is California. Here are the details:
- Average state gas tax: 68.2 cents per gallon
- Average gas price as of Jan. 14, 2022: $4.65 per gallon (the highest)
- State taxes as a percentage of gas price: 14.6% (fifth highest)
- Annual miles traveled per driver: 11,020 (14th fewest)
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