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Gasoline Tax Levies By State

With gasoline prices skyrocketing, it’s once again interesting to read how much of the price is the result of demand and how much is the result of the government taxing it. Luckily, CNN Money has put a list together [3] that illustrates how much residents in each state pay in gasoline tax. Tops on the list is New York at a total tax burden of 62.9 cents; Alaska pays the least at 26.4 cents; and my Maryland is about middle of the pack at 41.9 cents.

The tax has three components:

federal flat tax 18.4 cents
state flat taxes avg. 21.8 cents
state sales tax 2-6%

Now here’s the fun part… the Energy Information Agency (which collects information fuel demand [4]) only breaks collects data on fuel consumption in every state. I found a table where they listed motor petroleum consumption [5] (unfortunately it’s from 2002, but still moderately relevant) and decided to check out how the states compared.

The top five states in terms of consumption as a percentage of US consumption were California (11.53%), Texas (8.33%), Florida (5.86%), New York (4.23%) and Pennsylvania (3.84%). Interestingly enough, California and New York are in the top three in terms of highest gas-tax burden with Florida and Pennsylvania in the top ten. Only Texas finds itself in the bottom half. (Of the top ten most taxed states, six are top ten consumers and the other four are from less populous states like Hawaii and Connecticut)

Okay, so this isn’t a mind-boggling “study” but it’s something you can bring to the trivia table. Plus, the next time you hear about California being a bastion of tree-hugging Democrats – consider that in 2002 they consumed more than a tenth of all transportation petroleum consumption in the United States. They might hug trees but they won’t let it stop them from filling up at the station.