President Joe Biden is calling on Congress to suspend federal gas and diesel taxes for three months, a move that has been met with doubt and criticism by some lawmakers and industry experts.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other congressional Democrats have worried that suspending the federal gas tax would allow oil companies to reap additional profits with no guarantee that drivers would see savings at the pump, the Associated Press reports.
“President Biden understands that a gas tax holiday alone will not, on its own, relieve the run up in costs that we’ve seen. But the President believes that at this unique moment when the war in Ukraine is imposing costs on American families, Congress should do what it can to provide working families breathing room,” the White House said in a statement.
Biden is also urging states to provide direct relief by suspending their own gas taxes or through other legislative action.
Ahead of the news, some social media users claimed that five U.S. states have already suspended their gas taxes.
Have five U.S. states passed their own gas tax holidays in 2022?
Yes, five U.S. states have passed legislation to suspend gas taxes at some point in 2022.
WHAT WE FOUND
The federal fuel tax in the U.S. is 18.3 cents per gallon and the total for state gasoline taxes averages about 31 cents, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That means the average American pays about 49 cents total in gas taxes, though some people are paying more if their state taxes are higher.
State gas taxes include per-gallon excise taxes collected at the pump, excise taxes imposed on wholesalers and passed to drivers in the form of higher prices, and sales taxes that apply to the purchase of gasoline, the Tax Foundation explains on its website.
The federal gas tax holiday, if passed by Congress, “could in theory save Americans cumulatively around $70 million per day, though it could take a few weeks for effects to be seen,” GasBuddy spokesperson Nicole Petersen told VERIFY.
“The tax holiday also has the potential to increase demand for gasoline, which could create the opposite of the desired effect and put more upward pressure on prices at the pump,” she added.
As Biden calls on lawmakers to pass legislation that would temporarily eliminate the federal gas tax, five U.S. states – New York, Florida, Georgia, Connecticut and Maryland – have already suspended their state taxes or will do so in the future in hopes of offering relief for drivers.
Here’s what we know about the tax suspensions in each state.
New York is suspending certain state taxes, including the fuel excise tax and sales tax, on gasoline and diesel fuel from June 1 through Dec. 31, 2022, according to Gov. Kathy Hochul. This amounts to a reduction of at least 16 cents in the price of gas per gallon in the state, with some counties providing additional savings by setting temporary caps on sales tax.
"By suspending certain fuel taxes for the next seven months, New York is providing some $609 million in direct relief to New Yorkers – a critical lifeline for those who need it most,” Hochul said in a statement.
New York drivers would have paid at least 17.3 cents per gallon in state gas taxes as of June 1, 2022, if taxes had not been suspended, data from the state Department of Taxation and Finance show.
According to AAA, the average gas price per gallon in New York is about $4.99 as of June 22, slightly above the national average of roughly $4.96.
A one-month gas tax holiday, which will suspend fuel taxes in the state, is set to begin in Florida on Oct. 1, 2022.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 7071, which establishes the gas tax holiday along with nine other tax holidays, on May 6, 2022. A summary of the bill shows drivers in the state will save an estimated $200 million during a one-month fuel tax holiday beginning Oct. 1.
The fuel tax holiday will lower the price of gas in the state by 25.3 cents per gallon, according to DeSantis’ office.
The legislation also suspends taxes on items such as school supplies, items and admissions related to recreational activities, and Energy Star appliances.
AAA data show that the average gas price per gallon in Florida is currently about $4.77 as of June 22, almost 20 cents lower than the national average.
Georgia already suspended the collection of its fuel excise tax from March 18, 2022 through May 31, 2022, according to the state Department of Revenue (DOR). Gov. Brian Kemp later issued an executive order on May 26 extending the suspension of excise tax collection through July 14.
Georgia’s state gas tax is regularly 29.1 cents per gallon, DOR data show.
As of June 22, the average gas price per gallon in Georgia is roughly $4.45, about 50 cents lower than the national average, according to AAA.
On March 24, Gov. Ned Lamot signed emergency legislation suspending Connecticut's excise tax of 25 cents per gallon on gasoline from April 1 through June 30, 2022.
“The legislation includes language asserting that failure by retailers to reduce the per-gallon price of gasoline by this amount during the suspension period will be considered an ‘unfair or deceptive trade practice,’” the governor’s office said in a statement.
More than one month later, on May 9, Lamot announced that new legislation had further suspended Connecticut's excise tax on gas through Nov. 30, 2022.
The average gas price per gallon in Connecticut is hovering close to the national average at about $4.92 as of June 22, according to AAA.
Maryland implemented a 30-day gas tax holiday from March 18 through April 16, 2022, but it has since expired, according to the state Comptroller’s office. The state gas tax in Maryland is currently 36.1 cents per gallon, and is set to increase by 18% to 42.7 cents per gallon on July 1.
State Comptroller Peter Franchot sent a letter in late May to Gov. Larry Hogan and other legislators, urging them to pass emergency legislation that would waive the 18% increase to the state gas tax.
“This amounts to a new, highly regressive $200 million tax on Maryland families and small businesses,” Franchot said of the increase in his letter.
Franchot also called on the legislature to pass another state gas tax holiday through Sept. 30, similar to the monthlong holiday adopted in March.
Maryland’s average gas price per gallon is currently hovering near the national average at about $4.93 as of June 22, AAA data show.