March 15, 2013

The Journal News: New York drivers pay highest gas taxes

media mention

At $4 per gallon of fuel, 69 cents in tax is paid at the pump

Mar 14, 2013

Written by Theresa Juva-Brown

As if the yo-yoing of gasoline prices isn’t puzzling enough, try understanding all the fuel taxes drivers pay in New York.

New York City-area drivers pay eight separate taxes at the pump.

From the state, there is the excise tax, petroleum business tax, state sales tax, petroleum testing fee and spill tax. That’s on top of local sales tax and the federal fuel tax of 18.4 cents. Local motorists also pay another tiny fee — less than a penny a gallon — to support the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

State drivers pay 69 cents per gallon of fuel in taxes — the highest gas tax total in the nation, according to the American Petroleum Institute.

“Anytime we look at the states that have the highest average retail gasoline prices, it’s inevitable it’s the states that have the highest gasoline taxes,” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst with

In New York, the average price for a regular gallon of gasoline has lingered near $4 in recent weeks.

Based on $4 a gallon, drivers filling up in Rockland and Putnam counties, Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, White Plains and Yonkers — where the local sales tax is 4 percent — pay 68.7 cents a gallon in taxes. In other Westchester communities, motorists shell out 65.2 cents, according to figures provided to The Journal News by the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

Many New York drivers, especially in Rockland, flock to New Jersey, where drivers pay a combined gas tax total of 32.9 cents a gallon, the third-lowest in the nation, according to API.

Carl Davis, senior analyst at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said New Jersey’s gas tax hasn’t been raised in 22 years and that’s a problem.

“They have these gas taxes that aren’t capable of growing over time alongside (infrastructure) construction costs,” he said, adding that “New York is one of the 15 states that does have a gas tax that grows over time.”

Davis is referring to the petroleum business tax, which is currently 18.6 cents a gallon and based on wholesale petroleum prices. That tax generated $1.1 billion in 2011-12. The money went to the state’s bridge, highway and mass transit funds, along with $502 million produced by the excise tax. Meanwhile, the state’s general fund received $493 million from sales tax on fuel, according to the state Division of the Budget.

James O’Toole, a 47-year-old bartender and cab driver from New Rochelle, said he doesn’t see those tax dollars at work on state highways in the area.

“If I’m paying 69 cents a gallon in taxes, what is there to show me something is being done?” he said. “The roads are an absolute mess.”

Beau Duffy, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, argued that state roads have been improving. A state report last year found that 60 percent of state roads are in good or excellent condition and 40 percent are rated as in poor or fair condition, he said.

“Governor Cuomo recognizes the infrastructure needs and is making the investments,” Duffy said. Last year, the state spent $229.9 million through the NY Works program to replace pavement along 2,157 miles of state roads, he noted.