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The United States federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel. On average, as of April 2014, state and local taxes add 31.5 cents to gasoline and 31.0 cents to diesel, for a total US average fuel tax of 49.9 cents per gallon for gas and 55.4 cents per gallon for diesel.
The first US state tax on fuel was introduced in February 1919 in Oregon. It was a 5¢/gal (1.3¢/L) tax. In the following decade, all of the U.S. states (48 at the time), along with the District of Columbia, introduced a gasoline tax. By 1939, an average tax of 3.8¢/gal (1¢/L) of fuel was levied by the individual states.
The table below includes federal, state and local taxes. The American Petroleum Institute uses a weighted average of local taxes by population of each municipality to come up with an average tax for the entire state. Similarly, the national average is weighted by volume of fuel sold in each state. Because the states with the highest taxes also have higher populations, more states have below average taxes than above average taxes.
(includes federal tax of 18.4¢/gal)
(includes federal tax of 24.4¢/gal)
|US (Volume-Weighted) Average||49.9||55.4|
|District of Columbia||41.9||47.9|
The first federal gasoline tax in the United States was created on June 6, 1932 with the enactment of the Revenue Act of 1932 with a tax of 1¢/gal (0.3¢/L). Since 1993, the U.S. federal gasoline tax has been 18.4¢/gal (4.86¢/L). Unlike most other goods in the US, the price displayed includes all taxes, as opposed to inclusion at the point of purchase.
Then-Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters stated on August 15, 2007 that about 60% of federal gas taxes are used for highway and bridge construction. The remaining 40% goes to earmarked programs. However, revenues from other taxes are also used in federal transportation programs.
The federal gasoline tax raised $25 billion on gasoline in 2006. The tax was last raised in 1993, and is not indexed to inflation.
Some policy experts believe that an increased tax is needed to fund and sustain the country's transportation infrastructure. The National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission issued a detailed report in February 2009.
An increased cost of fuel would also encourage less consumption. A growing fiscal and national security concern is America's dependence on foreign oil. Americans sent nearly $430 billion to other countries in 2008 for the cost of imported oil.
Others argue that gas taxes are one of the most regressive taxes and that gas taxes are a drag on the economy because transportation fuel is a significant part of the cost of many goods, especially agricultural and construction. They would argue that ending the diversions of gas tax revenues would be a better way to free up more funds for transportation infrastructure.
As of 2007[update], jet fuel (called "kerosene for aviation" by the IRS) is taxed at 21.9¢/gal unless it is used for commercial aviation (airlines such as American Airlines and US Airways and small chartered commercial jets). Because such commercial operations are subject to the federal transportation tax, they are subject to a reduced fuel tax of 4.4¢/gal.
These taxes mainly fund airport and Air Traffic Control operations by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), of which commercial aviation is the biggest user.
US tax system: