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Runner: State Gas Tax Revenues Hit Record High

George Runner today announced that California motorists paid a record $8.3 billion in state and local fuel taxes during the 2011-12 fiscal year.

“Our latest numbers show that high gas prices resulted in a record windfall for government at the expense of California consumers,” Runner said in a statement. “It’s bad enough that California’s gas tax is among the highest in the nation. It’s even worse that gas tax goes up whenever gas prices rise.”

From July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, the California State Board of Equalization collected $6.9 billion in motor vehicle fuel taxes, up from $6.7 billion the prior year. Excise tax revenues accounted for $5.2 billion, while sales tax revenues accounted for $1.7 billion.

Over the same time period, the state collected $1.4 billion in diesel fuel taxes, up from $1.2 billion the prior year. Excise tax revenues accounted for $343 million, while sales tax revenues accounted for $1.1 billion.

“What’s particularly concerning about these numbers is that they would have been even higher had the Governor been successful in extending the higher sales tax,” noted Runner.

Had the 1 percent temporary sales tax not expired on July 1, 2011, Californians would have paid an additional $96 million in diesel tax last fiscal year. Furthermore, California’s 2010 fuel tax swap law would have required a larger motor vehicle fuel excise tax rate increase, costing Californians more than half a billion dollars extra in the 2012-13 fiscal year.

According to theAmerican Petroleum Institute, California's gasoline taxes and fees, averaging 68.9 cents per gallon, and California’s diesel taxes and fees, averaging 77.1 cents per gallon, both rank second highest in the nation.

Among these taxes and fees are a federal excise tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, a state excise tax of 36.0 cents per gallon (up from 35.7 cents effective July 1) and a sales tax averaging 3.12% when local taxes are included. Notably, the sales tax is calculated on the total price of the fuel sale including excise taxes, resulting in double taxation—California consumers pay a tax on a tax.

For diesel, the federal excise tax is 24.4 cents per gallon, the state excise tax is 10 cents per gallon (down from 13 cents effective July 1) and the sales tax is 9.42% (up from 9.12 percent), plus applicable local taxes, according to the statement.