State Board of Equalization approves 3.5 cent gas tax

Californians could end up paying the highest gasoline taxes in the nation when a 3.5-cents-per-gallon increase kicks in this summer.

The state Board of Equalization voted Thursday to increase the excise tax from 36 cents to 39.5 cents per gallon on non-diesel fuel beginning with the new fiscal year July 1, partly to offset tax losses because Californians are using less gas.

The change is expected to provide more than $500 million in revenue for the fiscal year, based on consumption figures. The diesel fuel tax will remain unchanged at 10 cents per gallon.

The excise tax is levied on gasoline suppliers but is often passed on to consumers. With the increase, a driver who travels 15,000 miles a year at 20 miles per gallon would pay about $26 in additional taxes.

When federal and other state taxes are added, Californians this summer could pay the highest gas tax in the nation, averaging more than 70 cents per gallon, according to petroleum industry figures. However, the board said in a statement Friday that it "cannot predict what the selling price of gasoline will be" on July 1.

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