Illinois gas taxes trail only California for highest in nation; Missouri second-lowest

Gas taxes Illinois

Illinois was No. 10 just a few years ago, but diligent efforts by politicians mean Illinois is now No. 2 for the taxes paid on a gallon of gas.

The American Petroleum Institute just broke down the taxes on gas in each state and found Illinois charges 77.96 cents per gallon with both federal and state taxes and fees combined. That is No. 2 in the U.S., up from third place after Illinois doubled its gas tax in 2019 and 10th place before the tax hike.

The top spot was claimed by California, which charges 85.38 cents a gallon. Alaska was lowest at 33.38 cents.

The second-lowest gas tax state is a problem for Illinois retailers. Missouri charges 35.82 cents in taxes, meaning the same gallon of gas in Illinois costs 42 cents a gallon more.

You see a lot of Illinois license plates at gas stations just across the state line in both Missouri and Indiana, said Robert Forsyth, president of Moto Inc. He is based in Belleville, Ill., and operates 79 Moto Mart gas and convenience stores in six Midwest states. Indiana taxes are nearly 20 cents cheaper.

“It’s politically expedient to say you care, but when you pass regressive taxes like this it shows you do not really care about the rest of the state or your poor,” Forsyth said.

He said low-income families tend to drive older, larger cars that are not as fuel efficient.

Every state pays an 18.4 cent federal excise fee. The state excise tax of 39.2 cents makes up the bulk of the tax in Illinois after doubling from 19 cents. State leaders now can avoid voting on politically unpopular gas tax hikes because they tied future taxes to inflation, with automatic increases every July 1.

Drivers pay another 20 cents per gallon in other state taxes and fees. Illinois is one of seven states that levies sales tax on top of gas taxes, which is essentially taxing the taxes.

The average Illinoisan will pay $11.55 in taxes for 15 gallons of gas. During the course of a year, the average gasoline tax is $408 per driver ­– $105 a year more than before Illinois doubled the gas tax in 2019.

It gets worse for Chicago drivers.

Chicago charges $1.02 per gallon in taxes by including city and Cook County taxes and fees. Each fill-up includes $15.33 in taxes, which add up to an average of $534 in gas taxes a year.

As inflation creeps upward, so, too, with the automatically increasing Illinois state gas taxes. Given a few years, Illinois might pass California for the No. 1 spot.

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