Start saving your spare change.
Gas taxes in California are going to climb nearly 4 cents per gallon next week when a fuel tax hike meant to make up for lost revenue goes into effect.
Come Monday, an extra 3.5 cents will be tacked onto every gallon of gas bought in the Golden State.
A gallon of regular gasoline is California is among the most costly in the country at $4.026 Friday afternoon, according to AAA's daily fuel gauge report. That’s 51 cents more than the national average of $3.514 per gallon of regular gasoline.
The average driver in California burned 600 gallons of fuel in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, according to data from the California Energy Commission.
By those numbers, the average driver will pay an extra $21 next year under the raised excise tax.
The tax hike – meant to keep California’s sales tax rate at a constant 7.5 percent – will bring the state gasoline excise tax to 39.5 cents per gallon, said Venus Stromberg, spokeswoman for the California Board of Equalization.
Nationwide, the average state excise gas tax is about 21 cents, according to data from the American Petroleum Institute.
Stromberg said that while gas prices are going up, there’s a silver lining. The overall state sales tax remains the same. And tariffs on other purchases – like clothes and computers – have dipped.
Dubbed the Fuel Tax Swap, the requirement to keep the sales tax at a constant rate by adjusting fuel and diesel excise taxes went into law under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010, Stromberg said.
It allows for a combination of lowering the sales and use tax rate while simultaneously raising the state excise fuel tax, so that the total amount of revenue is equal to what would have been generated had the taxes remained unchanged.
Money generated from the fuel excise tax goes toward mass transit projects and public roads in the state, Stromberg said.