Residents of 10 states will see their gasoline tax rates change on Jan. 1, but the direction of those changes is decidedly mixed. Five states will raise their gas tax rates when the clock strikes midnight, while the other five will cut theirs, at least for the time being.
Among the states with gas tax increases are Pennsylvania (9.8 cents), Virginia (5.1 cents), and Maryland (2.9 cents). Each of these increases is taking place as scheduled under major transportation finance laws enacted last year.
North Carolina (1 cent) and Florida (0.3 cents) are also seeing smaller gas tax increases as a result of formulas written into their laws that update their tax rates each year alongside inflation or gas prices.
The states where gas tax rates will fall are Kentucky (4.3 cents), West Virginia (0.9 cents), Vermont (0.83 cents), Nebraska (0.8 cents), and New York (0.6 cents). Each of these states ties at least part of its gas tax rate to the price of gas, much like a traditional sales tax. With gas prices having fallen, their gas tax rates are now falling as well.
While some drivers may be excited by the prospect of a lower gas tax, these cuts will result in less funding for bridge repairs, repaving projects, and other infrastructure enhancements that in many cases are long overdue. Because of this, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal recently signed an executive order preventing a gas tax cut from taking effect in his state on January 1. And Kentucky is considering following Maryland and West Virginia’s lead by enacting a law that stabilizes the gas tax during times of dramatic declines in the price of gas.
But while states such as Kentucky may struggle to fund their transportation networks in the immediate wake of these tax cuts, these types of “variable-rate” gas taxes are still more sustainable than fixed-rate taxes that are guaranteed to become increasingly outdated with every passing year. To that point, here are the states where gas tax rates will be reaching notable milestones of inaction on Jan. 1:
- Iowa, Mississippi, and South Carolina will see their gas tax rates turn 26 years old this January. Each of these states last increased their gas taxes on January 1, 1989.
- Louisiana will watch as its gas tax rate hits the quarter-century mark. Its gas tax was last raised on January 1, 1990.
- Colorado’s gas tax rate will “celebrate” its 24th birthday on New Years Day, having last been increased on January 1, 1991.
- Delaware will become the newest addition to the 20+ year club as it “celebrates” two decades since its last gas tax increase on January 1, 1995.
Gas tax rates need to go up if our infrastructure is going to be brought into the 21st century. Jan. 1 may be a mixed bag in that regard, but it’s increasingly likely that things could change soon as debates over gas tax increases and reforms get under way in states as varied as Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin.