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How do motor fuel tax rates vary by state?

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Quick Answer

The state tax rates in 2014 varied from a high of nearly 53 cents per gallon in California to a low of 12.4 cents per gallon in Alaska, according to the Tax Foundation. Drivers in all states pay a federal excise tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline in addition to the state's fuel taxes.

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Full Answer

States have different methods of taxing fuel, as the American Petroleum Institute illustrates. Some states have lower-than- average excise taxes on fuel but make up the difference through other taxes and fees. For example, in October 2015, Florida had an excise tax of only 4 cents per gallon, but other taxes and fees added an average of more than 32 cents per gallon to this price, placing Florida above average in the United States. Washington, on the other hand, charged only an excise tax of 44.5 cents per gallon and has no other fees.

Taxes on fuel fund transportation infrastructure and related expenses, states the Tax Foundation. They serve as an alternative to tolls or other means of collecting revenue from people who use the roads. Because people who drive more frequently use more fuel, they typically pay more taxes than those who drive less frequently.

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