• 81°

U.S. gasoline taxesare far lower than some

By Staff
Gas prices getting you down?
Try moving to Venezuela. When CNN Money.com did a recent survey of global gas prices it found that fuel in Caracas was going for just 14 cents a gallon. That’s not a typo. Just 14 cents. You could also find bargains if you lived in the former Soviet republics of Azerbaijan ($1.15) and Tajikistan ($1.32.) Filling up the tank in Saudi Arabia and Iraq is also pretty cheap. In Kuwait, gas is cheaper than water. Of course, all of the above have plenty of oil.
We don’t see a hoard of Americans ready to give up life in the USA for cheaper gas, but you get the picture that fuel prices vary widely.
But if you think it’s bad here, don’t go to Europe. At the same time CNN did its list, fuel in the United Kingdom was going for $5.64 a gallon. In May, it was well over $6.50.
While prices of $3 a gallon have North Carolinians feeling low, you can easily expect to pay twice that in European countries.
There are any number of reasons why gas prices vary, but taxation and national policy are the two that stand out the most. Venezuela is a huge producer of oil, and it can keep prices low to help the poorest of the poor. On the flip side, other governments use gas taxes as a way to generate vast amounts of income and spur conservation. In the U.K., two-thirds of the price at the pump represents the tax, just one third is the actual fuel price. In the U.S., only about 40 cents of that $3 a gallon you spend goes to taxes.
As much as Americans may hate to admit it, our government really isn’t giving us any reason to conserve compared to other countries. Some would change that.
U.S. drivers would pay a 50-cent tax on each gallon of gasoline they pump to encourage less fuel use and cut greenhouse gas emissions under draft legislation to fight global warming released in September.
Diesel fuel, which produces 20-percent fewer emissions than gasoline, would be exempt from the tax, as would biofuels that do not contain petroleum.
Before introducing a formal bill, Dingell said he is seeking feedback from the public and other interested parties on his current proposal.
There would also be a $50 tax on each ton of carbon produced from coal, petroleum and natural gas. This would also be phased in over five years and adjusted for inflation.
The money from the gasoline tax would go into the federal highway trust fund to pay for roads and mass transit. The jet fuel tax would be used to improve airports.
Since 1993, the federal gas tax has hovered around 18 cents a gallon while the total gas price has soared. Including state taxes, which vary, the hit is about 40 cents. In North Carolina, there is a 30-cent tax and an 18-cent federal tax. That compares to $1.03 in Canada, $2.07 in Japan, $3.80 in France and $3.99 in Germany.
It’s not surprising that residents in those countries drive more fuel-efficient vehicles. While 25 miles per gallon is normal in the U.S., in Canada it’s closer to 30 mpg. In China, which is experiencing a huge growth spurt, the average is over 35 mpg and in Japan its nearly 45 mpg.
Politics will probably prevent lawmakers from passing any higher gas taxes, especially now. But motorists should be aware that in the eyes of some we’re getting a real bargain. That won’t make it hurt any less when you fill up the tank, but it’s a reality that Americans need to understand.