Ohio lawmakers will decide soon whether you will start paying more at the pump through a gas tax increase to help fix Ohio’s roads and build new ones.
How much do you pay a year now in gasoline taxes? When was the last increase? Do urban areas like Cuyahoga County and rural areas such as Medina County get their fair shares?
How does Ohio’s current tax of 28 cents a gallon compare to other states?
These questions and more should be on the minds of voters as their elected representatives in Columbus – from the Statehouse to Gov. Mike DeWine – consider whether the time is right to increase the state’s gas tax.
Scroll below for some questions and answers, as discussions heat up in Columbus.Included in the price – unlike sales taxes
Close to one-fourth of the cost of gasoline is actually gas taxes, when the advertised price is $2 per gallon. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)
Unlike a normal sales tax, the gasoline tax is baked into the advertised price at the pump.
So when you see that gas is priced at $1.99 a gallon, that price already includes the federal gasoline tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, and Ohio’s tax of 28 cents a gallon.How much you pay a year in gas taxes
Four examples for the total annual cost of gasoline taxes, depending on your driving habits and the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)
Gas taxes are sometimes referred to as user taxes, because the more you drive, the more you pay to help cover the cost of road repairs and construction. (Non-drivers pay a lot for roads, too, through local property and income taxes.)
If your car averages 30 miles per gallon and you drive 12,000 miles a year, you’re paying about $74 a year in gas taxes to the federal government and another $112 to Ohio.
But a driver covering 20,000 miles in a car getting 25 miles per gallon ends up paying $147 in federal gas taxes and $224 in Ohio gas taxes.
Complicating matters has been the introduction of all-electric of hybrid vehicles. They save a lot of oil, but aren’t good for the theory that the gas tax is a user tax.How Ohio’s 28-cent gas tax compares
State taxes on gasoline, including sales taxes and fees where they apply, for Ohio and surrounding states. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)
Ohio is on the low end for taxes on gasoline regionally, and far below neighboring Pennsylvania.
Buy your gas in the Keystone State to the east, and you’ll be paying 58.7 cents a gallon in state taxes – more than double Ohio’s rate of 28 cents per gallon.
Elsewhere, a cleveland.com survey of tax officials in neighboring states found, the taxes total 26 cents per gallon in Kentucky, 40 cents in Indiana, 35.7 cents in West Virginia and 36.7 cents in Michigan.
But Michigan is a good example of how taxes per gallon can vary, even without law changes.
Michigan’s fuel tax is 26.3 cents per gallon. Unlike Ohio, Michigan also applies a sales tax (included in the advertised price at the pump). Together, that brought the total to about 36.7 cents per gallon last week, a Michigan Department of Treasury spokesman estimated.
In Indiana, the total this month is 40 cents per gallon – 29 cents as a gas tax and 11 cents a substitute sales tax, a state Department of Revenue spokeswoman said.
The last increase was in 2005
At the urging of Republican Gov. Bob Taft, Republicans and Democrats in the state legislature voted in early 2003 to increase the gasoline tax.
This legislation – with 2-cent increases for each of three years – raised Ohio’s gas tax from 22 cents before the change to 28 cents in 2005.
The measure passed by wide margins – 62-33 in the House and 20-12 in the Senate – but lawmakers haven’t touched the rate since then.
Ohio’s gas tax was first enacted at 2 cents a gallon in 1925. It edged up to 7 cents a gallon by 1959 and stayed there through 1980, before a series of increases.
Separately, the federal gas tax has been 18.4 cents a gallon since 1997.Flat revenue from the tax
Though many roads are busier, gas tax revenue has been essentially unchanged since the last increase in Ohio’s gas tax.
Ohio took in $1.84 billion in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016, and $1.91 billion in fiscal 2018, according to the Ohio Department of Taxation.Local shares for cities, townships and counties
This is the amount of Ohio gas tax money provided to county governments, per capita, in 2017. Each county received $2.4 million. (Rich Exner, cleveland.com)
About one-third of Ohio’s gas tax money gets forwarded to local governments under formulas established by the law.
Shares for cities, villages and townships get distributed on formulas tied to the number of registered vehicles and, in some cases, the miles of road in the townships.
Overall, townships account for about one-third of Ohio’s population and they get about one-third of the roughly $367 million shared with townships, villages or cities.
At the county level, however, larger areas lose out.
The roughly $210 million for counties is divided evenly among Ohio’s 88 counties, regardless of population or the number of registered vehicles.
Cuyahoga, with 10.7 percent of the population, received 1.1 percent of the money from this pool in 2017.
This amounted to $2.4 million. If the formula was population-based, Cuyahoga County would have instead received $22.5 million for its roads and bridges.