April 6, 2012

Connecticut has highest diesel excise taxes in U.S., EIA data show

California has third-lowest, but devil is in the details.

By Mark B. Solomon

Attention truckers: Looking to fill up your rigs as you ply the interstate highways? Well, you might want to ensure you have enough fuel to bypass Connecticut.

The Nutmeg State charges a pocket-pinching $0.462 a gallon in diesel fuel excise taxes, by far the highest of any state in the country, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). Washington state was the second highest at $0.375 a gallon. North Carolina was next at $0.35 a gallon.

Connecticut also levies a 7-percent "gross earnings tax" on top of the diesel excise taxes, according to the EIA.

Until last year, Connecticut diesel taxes were paid through two channels, according to Bob Pitcher, vice president, state laws for the American Trucking Associations. A wholesale tax, equivalent to about 20 percent, was levied on producers and importers. The remainder was paid by truckers at the pump.

In 2011, the legislature consolidated the process into a single payment at fill-up, according to Pitcher. This was in response to requests by the state trucking association, which wanted to shield its truckers from price fluctuations associated with wholesale market prices, he said. By contrast, taxes paid at the pump remain in a stable range, he added.

Georgia has the lowest diesel excise taxes of any state in the country at $0.075 per gallon. That was followed by Alaska at $0.08 a gallon. Georgia also has the nation's lowest taxes on gasoline and gasohol at $0.075 a gallon.

California, which has a reputation for sky-high fuel prices and has the second-highest gasoline tax in the country after Washington state—levies the third-lowest diesel excise tax in the United States at $0.13 a gallon.

However, there is a catch. The state imposes a 9-percent sales tax on diesel fuel purchases. With diesel prices over $4.10 a gallon nationwide, the sales tax could add $0.35 or more to the cost of a truck fill-up, bringing the total tab to the highest in the nation.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Senior Editor
Mark Solomon has spent 25 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. Mr. Solomon graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

More articles by Mark B. Solomon

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