Gas Prices Skyrocketing: Rip-Off, Conspiracy, … or? [Shocking State-by-State Comparison]

Craig Huey California, Current Events, Taxation 3 Comments

The biased media and politicians are making false claims about gasoline prices:

  • Why are gas prices in some states so much higher than in others?
  • Why don’t they tell you how much of the price per gallon you pay goes to the government?

Let’s face it – high gasoline prices and car registration fees hurt us all…

The poor and middle class suffer the most.

Even those who ride public transportation face higher fares due to increased fuel costs.

But fuel price increases also impact every business and every consumer … as the increasing costs of transportation – which add to the cost of production – are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices for everything you buy.

The dirty little secret is how much you pay to the government for each gallon of gas you buy.

The federal government’s gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.

But that’s just the beginning…

Each state plus the District of Columbia adds its own taxes – ranging from 14.4 cents per gallon in Alaska to 58.7 cents per gallon in Pennsylvania … and some counties add additional taxes on top of the state taxes.

California even adds an underground storage tank fee to its two state excise taxes … plus sales tax on the price of gasoline at the pump – which includes sales tax on the federal, state and local taxes!

According to July 2019 data from the American Petroleum Institute, these are the 10 states with the highest total taxes on gasoline (including the 18.4-cent federal tax):

  1. California – 79.6 cents per gallon (and going up another 72 cents in 2020)
  2. Pennsylvania – 77.1 cents per gallon
  3. Illinois – 73.38 cents per gallon
  4. Washington – 67.8 cents per gallon
  5. Hawaii – 66.65 cents per gallon
  6. Indiana – 65.02 cents per gallon
  7. New York – 64.36 cents per gallon
  8. Michigan – 60.88 cents per gallon
  9. Connecticut – 60.51 cents per gallon
  • Florida – 60.39 cents per gallon

The national average total price per gallon of regular gasoline is $2.749.

Compare that with California’s average price of $3.760.

Prices fluctuate weekly. You can check the latest information on state and national average prices and trends by clicking here.

California has the highest gasoline prices in the nation for several reasons:

  • California does not allow drilling or fracking for oil. In fact, the state is suing President Trump to stop him from allowing drilling on federally-owned land in the state!
  • California refuses to allow the construction of new refineries. In fact, the state is closing down existing refineries.
  • California is a net importer of oil – even though it has more oil than any other state.
  • The state legislature requires that only a special blend of low-emission gasoline is sold in California between April 1 and October 1 every year.

On January 1, 2020, total state gasoline taxes could go up by as much as an additional 72 cents per gallon thanks to the 2013 California law on cap and trade … and a new additional adjustment for inflation.

Every April, California also sees an increase in gasoline prices due to:

  • Refinery shutdowns for annual maintenance
  • Refinery switchover from “winter blend” formulation to the “summer blend” formulation required by California state law

Vehicle registration fees is another source of revenue that varies widely by state and by vehicle type, weight and value.

Among all the states, I feel sorry for those living in California…

In 2017, 14.86 million automobiles were registered in California – more than 6.5 million more than in Texas (8.177 million) or Florida (7.778 million).

The number of fees included when registering a car in California is mind-boggling.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Registration Fee
  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) Fees
  • Transportation Improvement Fee (TIF)
  • Vehicle License Fee (VLF) – 0.65% of car’s value
  • Miscellaneous Registration and Service Fees

Then there are County/District Fees that vary based on where you live:

  • Service Authority for Freeway Emergencies Fee (SAFE)
  • Air Quality Fee
  • Auto Theft Deterrence/DUI Fee
  • Abandoned Vehicle Abatement Fee
  • Fingerprint ID Fee
  • County Transportation Project Fee (CTPF)

These are all hidden fees collected by the California DMV that don’t show up on a registration renewal notice.

No wonder California total vehicle registration costs are the highest in the nation!

One other note: The Transportation Improvement Fee (TIF) is used to repair infrastructure and provide road maintenance. The state also receives billions of dollars annually for road maintenance and infrastructure from:

  • The 18.4-cent federal excise tax on every gallon of gasoline sold in the state
  • The highway funds portion of California property taxes

Here is where the roughly $16 billion in California gas taxes and vehicle fees supposedly goes:

  • Highway repairs, maintenance and public transit (buses and trains) – 59%
  • Enforcement and regulation (DMV, California Highway Patrol) – 22%
  • Local law enforcement, General Fund, Dept. of Food and Agriculture, Dept of Parks and Recreation – 7%
  • Debt service – 7.5%
  • Administration (includes costs of collecting, distributing and auditing gas taxes and fees) – 3%
  • Environmental mitigation, bike path and pedestrian amenities, transportation-related research and workforce development – 1.3%

Some of these categories are too broad to maintain accountability…

For example, there’s no breakdown showing how much of the 59% — representing $9.5 billion – goes toward highway and bridge repair versus public transit – including the ill-conceived and incredibly wasteful high-speed bullet train project between Bakersfield and Merced.

No wonder California has some of the worst maintained freeways and state highways in the nation…

What do you think? Email me at

Here are the rest of this week’s articles:

Comments 3

  1. If you lived in Needles(s) which it is, you could purchase gas in Arizona and burn it in California. I wonder how the gas stations are doing on the east side of the Chili Colorado River.

    1. Gas stations in AZ do VERY well along the border! If you exit the 40 at River road and go about 2 miles from the stations on the CA side, you’ll pay 2.15 LESS on the AZ side! Or if you are traveling east on the 40, just keep going for another 23 miles to the turn off for Lake Havasu City; the Pilot and Loves stations are RIGHT there off the 40. NO ONE stops in Needles for gas when they are heading to AZ! Unless they are on fumes. We fill up all our gas cans too!

  2. Thank you for this date….I have never been able to add up all the fees and taxes as could not be sure of my information, but you did it for me including your resource.

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