EIA report: Average state diesel tax at 27.4 cents

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The U.S. Energy Information Administration released a report detailing state fuel taxes, which revealed an average state tax of 27.4 cents for diesel. The numbers come out during a time when diesel prices are relatively low and several states are considering increasing their fuel tax to support transportation funding.

As of Jan. 1, the lowest state diesel tax is in Alaska at 8.95 cent per gallon, the same tax rate for gasoline in the Last Frontier state. Pennsylvania holds the title for highest state diesel tax at 65.1 cents per gallon and highest gasoline tax (51.4 cents). Prices are in addition to the federal gasoline and diesel taxes, which are 18.4 cents and 24.4 cents, respectively.

In addition to state and federal fuel taxes, some local jurisdictions also impose their own tax. Florida and Hawaii have a statewide local option for fuel taxes. Options in Florida can go as high as an additional 6.3 cents. County diesel taxes in Maui add another 18 cents to the 17-cent state tax. Three counties near the Gulf in Mississippi impose a “Seawall Tax” on gasoline only. Chicago adds 5 cents to fuel in addition to federal, state and local taxes.

According to the EIA report, revenue from fuel taxes has decreased over the years as a result of better fuel mileage in newer vehicles. In 2014, the average light-duty vehicle performed at 23.2 miles per gallon, compared with 22.5 in 2004 and 20.7 in 1994.

Fuel economy for heavy-duty trucks has not improved as much in the long term. In 2014, trucks received 6.3 miles per gallon, less than 6.7 mpg in 2004 and slightly more than 6.1 mpg in 1994. However, trucks would get 9 mpg in 1949 and stayed within the 8-8.5 mpg range throughout the 1950s.

States from Hawaii to Delaware are proposing increases in state fuel taxes. Several states, including California, Oregon, Washington and Minnesota, have considered a “road usage charge” in lieu of fuel taxes.

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