California gas tax rates go up: how much tax do you pay per gallon?
The Golden State’s gas tax rises every year to pay for roads; a proposed freeze to the hike appears dead, with Californians set to pay ¢2.8 more per gallon.
Gas tax in California is currently 51.1 cents per gallon, and under Senate Bill 1, enacted in 2017, that amount is raised every year, in part to keep pace with inflation. The money raised goes to fund maintain road infrastructure.
The programmed annual gas tax hike is set to occur on 1 July 2022, with an increase of 5.6%, which takes it to 53.9 cents per gallon, a jump of 2.8 cents.
For a typical 14-gallon size fuel tank that’s almost 40 cents, not huge, but not nothing either, particularly for individuals and families struggling with rising costs across the board, caused by global supply chain issues, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, which in particular has sent gas and energy prices soaring.
Average gas prices right now in California are $5.72 per gallon, according to the AAA Gas Price monitor. That’s a hefty chunk over the national average of $4.18.
Newsom talked of gas tax hike freeze
With gas prices rocketing Gov. Gavin Newsom started talking up a proposal to freeze the annual gas tax hike, but that plan appears to have run out of time. The hike comes into effect on 1 July, but to alter it lawmakers need to get the statute onto the books 60 days in advance, that is by 1 May and that’s not going to happen.
“It is clear now that the Legislature will not act in time to provide that immediate, limited relief, but we look forward to working with lawmakers on the Governor’s proposal for direct payments to Californians wrestling with rising prices,” said Alex Stack, Newsom spokesman, in a statement.
The truth is that while Newsom’s proposal might have grabbed headlines, a number of California legislators were never convinced. In their view a relatively small programmed tax hike is not where the focus should be, when other prices are rising even faster. Another issue is that there is no guarantee alterations to gas tax will have an impact at the pump, because they rely on suppliers passing them on to consumers.
Republicans naturally criticised the failure to stop the rise in gas tax. Kevin Kiley (Rocklin) who has drafted a bill to suspend the gas tax entirely for six months, slammed the move to allow the increase to go through: “When fuel prices rise again in July, drivers can thank the out of touch politicians in Sacramento who put politics over bipartisan solutions to help all Californians.”
California gas stimulus measures
Although the freeze to the gas tax increase is dead in the water, there are other measures being debated to help hard-working Californians meet the rising cost of filling up at the pump.
In late March Newsom announced a proposal to give drivers $400 per vehicle - with up to two vehicles per individual - as a debit card. Alongside that, the Governor offered funding for three months of free public transportation for state residents across the whole of California.
Democrats Toni Atkins and Anthony Rendon are keener on what is effective another income-limited stimulus check, with the idea of giving $200 to all taxpayers earning less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 in joint-filing households.
Meanwhile the most generous proposed plan comes from Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine) who unveiled a relief proposal of $400 to all taxpayers, independent of income or vehicle ownership.
Petrie-Norris said this week that she thinks there will be a relief plan put in place with the revised budget which will take effect by the summer. That relief plan will likely include pieces of all three proposals to help taxpayers.
No matter the stimulus plans or relief proposals, what is clear is that the California gas tax will be going up on 1 July 2022, by just under 3 cents a gallon.
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