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The States Where Gas Taxes Sting the Worst

MoneyWise logoMoneyWise 11/15/2018 Esther Trattner
a close up of a device: The States Where Gas Taxes Bite Hardest © Mut Hardman / Shutterstock The States Where Gas Taxes Bite Hardest

Gas prices have been flirting with their highest levels in four years in 2018, according to AAA. Reasons have included tight supplies, heavy demand -- and steep fuel taxes in many parts of the U.S.

Seven states -- Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont -- raised their gas taxes during the summer. And, President Donald Trump has proposed hiking the 18.4-cents-a-gallon federal gas tax by 25 cents to improve roads and bridges.According to data from the American Petroleum Institute, motorists in these states pay the highest total gas taxes: federal, state and local. Local taxes have been averaged. We count down to the most expensive state.

16. Rhode Island

a train traveling down tracks near a forest: Aleksandar Mijatovic / Shutterstock Rhode Island roads need help, but the state is hoping for an increase in the federal gas tax. © Provided by Cheapism Aleksandar Mijatovic / Shutterstock Rhode Island roads need help, but the state is hoping for an increase in the federal gas tax.

Average tax: 52.40 cents per gallon

State officials have been holding Rhode Island's relatively high gas tax steady.

Nearly 80% of the state’s transportation budget comes from federal funding, and it appears officials are waiting for the federal gas tax to go up to provide more money to repair the 42% of Rhode Island roads that are in poor condition.

Meantime, the state's motorists can expect to spend an average of $662 a year on vehicle repairs and operating costs due to the deteriorating roads, says The Brown Daily Herald. Yikes!

15. Maryland

a car driving down a busy highway: Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock The Capital Beltway in Maryland is congested around the clock. © Provided by Cheapism Andrea Izzotti / Shutterstock The Capital Beltway in Maryland is congested around the clock.

Average tax: 53.70 cents per gallon

Maryland moved into the top 15 in July 2018, when its state gas tax was hiked by 1.5 cents a gallon.

The change was made under a five-year-old law that syncs up the state fuel tax with inflation.

Gov. Larry Hogan has proposed spending $9 billion to widen congested highways, including Maryland's portion of the Capital Beltway around Washington, D.C. Critics say the state can't afford it, even with the higher gas tax.

14. North Carolina

a truck on the side of a road: makasana photo / Shutterstock North Carolina has tried to control its state gas tax, which used to be all over the map. © Provided by Cheapism makasana photo / Shutterstock North Carolina has tried to control its state gas tax, which used to be all over the map.

Average tax: 53.75 cents per gallon

Before 2015, North Carolina's higher-than-average gasoline tax was determined by a formula that moved the rate up or down every six months in step with wholesale fuel prices.

In an attempt to control this wacky tax, the state legislature decided to fix the state's gas tax at 34 cents by the end of 2016.

Going forward, the tax will be calculated based on North Carolina's population growth and, to a lesser degree, on national increases in energy prices. The state's population continues to rise, meaning gas taxes will keep ticking upward.

13. West Virginia

a train crossing New River Gorge National River over a river: Steve Heap / Shutterstock West Virginia has held down its gas tax while raising other costs for motorists., © Provided by Cheapism Steve Heap / Shutterstock West Virginia has held down its gas tax while raising other costs for motorists.,

Average tax: 54.10 cents per gallon

West Virginians saw an average gas tax increase of a relatively tame 3.5 cents a gallon in 2017 — but other driving-related taxes and fees went up at the same time.

Notable changes included the vehicle registration fee increasing by $21.50, to $51.50, and the state's vehicle sales tax rising from 5% to 6%.

Taken together, these hikes were expected to bring in $130 million a year for the State Road Fund, says WV Metro News.

12. Oregon

a view of a mountain: Dan Lewis / Shutterstock Oregon has beautiful highways and rising gas taxes. © Provided by Cheapism Dan Lewis / Shutterstock Oregon has beautiful highways and rising gas taxes.

Average tax: 55.17 cents per gallon

Oregon residents rang in 2018 with a 4-cent hike in the state gas tax. And gasoline was already costly in the state.

"The most expensive markets are the regions that pay more for crude (West Coast and some Rocky Mountain areas, as well as the Northeast)," Tom Kloza, head of global energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, said in an email.

The gas tax increase was part of a hefty $5.3 billion package of taxes and fees passed last July to fund road, bridge and transit projects.

11. Illinois

an aerial view of a city: marchello74 / Shutterstock The rough roads in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois are notorious. © Provided by Cheapism marchello74 / Shutterstock The rough roads in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois are notorious.

Average tax: 55.91 cents per gallon

Illinois roads are in such bad shape and the backlog of road work is so large that the Illinois Economic Policy Institute has recommended more than doubling the state's portion of the gas tax from 34 cents to 85 cents a gallon.

If adopted, this proposal would make gas taxes in Illinois the highest in the nation.

Other unsavory suggestions to raise the money include hiking the state's vehicle registration fee from $101 to $578 annually (a 472% increase!) or levying a "vehicle miles traveled fee" of 4 or 5 cents per mile.

10. Florida

a boat on a body of water: pisaphotography / Shutterstock Florida has good roads, but counties want to raise gas taxes to keep the costs covered. © Provided by Cheapism pisaphotography / Shutterstock Florida has good roads, but counties want to raise gas taxes to keep the costs covered.

Average tax: 59.76 cents per gallon

National transport research group TRIP has rated Florida the state with the smallest percentage of bad roads in the country — only 7%. But that distinction comes at a cost.

Ongoing road work is pushing some Florida counties to consider raising taxes.

Officials in Lake County — north and west of Orlando's theme parks — had planned to ask voters to weigh in on a 5-cent gas tax increase this year. But the measure was scrapped from the November ballot in favor of a different tax question, to beef up school safety.

9. New Jersey

a close up of a busy city street: Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock © Provided by Cheapism Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock

Average tax: 59.80 cents per gallon

In New Jersey — the only state where it's a crime to pump your own gas — motorists also have had to deal with rapidly rising gasoline taxes.

The state's fuel tax jumped by 4.3 cents per gallon on Oct. 1, just two years after the tax was hiked by a steep 23 cents to help pay for work on roads, bridges and other transportation projects.

Before 2016, drivers in the Garden State enjoyed some of the nation's lowest fuel taxes.

8. Indiana

a sign on the side of a road: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock The costs of getting around have been going up in the Hoosier State. © Provided by Cheapism Katherine Welles / Shutterstock The costs of getting around have been going up in the Hoosier State.

Average tax: 61.30 cents per gallon

Indiana's gas tax rose last summer by another 1.8 cents a gallon, under a new inflation-based formula. It was the second increase in two years.

In 2017, lawmakers raised the state's fuel tax by 10 cents as part of a 20-year road-funding plan. Hoosiers also started paying a new $15 licensing fee, a $150 fee for electric vehicles and a $50 fee for hybrids, reports The Indianapolis Star.

These funds are expected to help the state finish building Interstate 69 and handle congestion around Indiana's major urban centers.

7. Connecticut

a train traveling down train tracks near a forest: barbsimages / Shutterstock The scenic Merritt Parkway and other Connecticut highways have been lacking in maintenance money. © Provided by Cheapism barbsimages / Shutterstock The scenic Merritt Parkway and other Connecticut highways have been lacking in maintenance money.

Average tax: 61.90 cents per gallon

Gas taxes in Connecticut are higher than average, but they don't come close to covering the cost of local road repairs.

In January 2018, the governor announced that 400 projects would be delayed indefinitely because the state's transportation fund did not have enough money to pay for them.

Residents are now facing a proposed 7-cent gas tax hike, high-speed electronic tolls and a $3 tax on new tires, says The CT Mirror.

6. Michigan

John McCormick / Shutterstock Michigan has been struggling to maintain the Mackinac Bridge and other transportation infrastructure. © Provided by Cheapism John McCormick / Shutterstock Michigan has been struggling to maintain the Mackinac Bridge and other transportation infrastructure.

Average tax: 62.52 cents per gallon

Michigan has been raising its state gas tax (a 7.3-cent increase took effect in 2017) to deal with deplorable road conditions caused by new potholes opening up every spring.

Yet despite its high fuel tax, the state is dead last in the country for per-capita investment in roads, says The Detroit News.

Outgoing Gov. Rick Snyder says residents have paid enough and that there should be an increase in the federal fuel tax to cover badly needed highway repairs.

5. New York

a bridge over a body of water with a city in the background: oneinchpunch / Shutterstock New York is considering a "congestion toll" in parts of Manhattan, because gas taxes don't go far enough. © Provided by Cheapism oneinchpunch / Shutterstock New York is considering a "congestion toll" in parts of Manhattan, because gas taxes don't go far enough.

Average tax: 64.02 cents per gallon

About 60% of New York’s major roads and 6,000 bridges need fixing via a trust fund that gets money from the state's fuel tax, reports Albany's WNYT news.

But the taxes don’t even begin to address ongoing problems with repairs and congestion in the state. The New York Times reports Gov. Andrew Cuomo is considering a $11.52 "congestion toll" for cars entering parts of Manhattan.

All things considered, it doesn’t look like the price of driving in New York will be going down anytime soon.

4. Hawaii

a close up of a street sign in front of a building: cleanfotos / Shutterstock In Hawaii, you say aloha -- meaning goodbye -- to a lot of money when you fill your gas tank. © Provided by Cheapism cleanfotos / Shutterstock In Hawaii, you say aloha -- meaning goodbye -- to a lot of money when you fill your gas tank.

Average tax: 66.50 cents per gallon

Hawaii’s island roads rank 48th in the nation for performance and maintenance, according to a 2016 analysis by the Reason Foundation.

But fixing them is complex and expensive, and Hawaiians already contend with the highest cost of living in the country.

In 2017, Hawaii’s Big Island put into motion its first fuel tax hike in 30 years, a 23-cent hike to be spread out over three years.

3. Washington

a view of a city: Checubus / Shutterstock Washington state has been hiking its gas tax to address poor roads. © Provided by Cheapism Checubus / Shutterstock Washington state has been hiking its gas tax to address poor roads.

Average tax: 67.80 cents per gallon

In 2015, research group TRIP noted that 39% of Washington roads were in bad shape. The state lacked funds to fix them, so lawmakers raised the gas tax by 11.9 cents.

The tax increase was intended to fund Connecting Washington Communities, a 16-year program that's supposed to make everyone’s life better.

Major investments include $9.4 billion for state highways and local roads, $1.4 billion for maintenance — and even $300 million to remove barriers so salmon and other fish will have an easier time getting around!

2. California

a close up of a building: TierneyMJ / Shutterstock Los Angeles' notorious freeways are as challenging for motorists as California's fuel taxes. © Provided by Cheapism TierneyMJ / Shutterstock Los Angeles' notorious freeways are as challenging for motorists as California's fuel taxes.

Average tax: 73.93 cents per gallon

In 2015, transportation research group TRIP reported that 51% of California’s highways were in poor condition.

But to fund road maintenance, local drivers were already paying a 2.25% sales tax on gas and 50 cents more per gallon than the rest of the country. Then, in November 2017, the state's gas tax went up by another 12 cents.

On Election Day, the state's voters rejected a measure that would have reversed last year's increase. California's gas tax will be raised yet again, by another 7.5 cents a gallon, in July 2019. Ouch.

1. Pennsylvania

a train crossing a bridge over a body of water: mandritoiu / Shutterstock Gas taxes have been rising in Pennsyvania because roads and bridges in Pittsburgh and elsewhere have been falling apart. © Provided by Cheapism mandritoiu / Shutterstock Gas taxes have been rising in Pennsyvania because roads and bridges in Pittsburgh and elsewhere have been falling apart.

Average tax: 77.10 cents per gallon

Motorists in Pennsylvania pay the highest gas taxes in the country, says the American Petroleum Institute — and it will only get worse.

The state has been enacting yearly tax hikes via a 2013 law aimed at boosting work on crumbling bridges and roads by $1 billion a year.

Tolls on the Pennsylvania Turnpike also have been going up yearly and contribute to the astronomical cost of driving in the Keystone State.

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