Recently, Gov. Sonny Perdue blocked a scheduled jump in the state sales tax charged on motor fuel.
Georgia, though, is still one of only a handful of states to levy local and state sales taxes on gasoline, piling on costs to already skyrocketing fuel prices.
Meanwhile, consumers often don’t even know that they pay an extra price in Georgia.
Georgia’s gas tax of about 30 cents per gallon has now soared passed Tennessee’s rate of 19 cents per gallon.
Ted Young, who owns Nob North Chevron in Whitfield County, Ga., said customers complain routinely about high gas costs but rarely mention the sales tax on gas.
“My guess is nine out of 10 wouldn’t know about it,” he said. Turning to a Mayfield Dairy delivery truck driver, he asked, “You know anything about the gas tax?” The reply was an immediate no.
“It gets more confusing every day, the way they adjust it,” Mr. Young explained. “I own this place, so it’s something I have to learn.”
The gas tax in Georgia can in fact be tough to comprehend. The Peach State levies three separate taxes on fuel, which are all pre-calculated into the cost-per-gallon consumers see at the pump, according to Department of Revenue spokesman Charles Willey.
One of these taxes is an excise tax of 7.5 cents per gallon.
The two other taxes — a state sales tax and a local sales tax — are readjusted every six months to reflect changes in gas prices. And, these days, those sales taxes have only been going up.
On June 2, Gov. Perdue signed an order suspending the adjustment set for July 1 that would have increased the state sales tax on gasoline from 11 to 13.9 cents per gallon, a jump of 26 percent.
“Georgians are already facing record gas prices, and raising taxes even higher would put further strain on families’ budgets and on our economy,” Gov. Perdue said in a statement released at the time.
But, the local sales tax on gas will go up in July, said the Department of Revenue’s Mr. Willey.
All the counties in the Northwest Georgia corner have three local option sales taxes in effect, and that translates to about 3 cents on the dollar, or 12 cents for each gallon of $4 gas.
In September, Whitfield County passed a 1 percent special sales tax for transportation projects. County Commissioner Mike Cowan said the increase is minimal compared to other gas taxes.
“It’s another penny on the dollar, which is the least amount of tax that’s placed on fuel sales,” he said.
Still, one Georgia resident, Greg Neal said the high cost of gas should encourage the government to remove the sales tax from gasoline.
“Georgia shouldn’t have all that tax on there because we have state income tax, too, which is pretty hefty, by the way,” said Mr. Neal, who rides his motorcycle to save money on gas.
Georgia is only one of nine states to charge a sales tax in addition to an excise tax for gas, said Ronald Alt, senior research associate with the Federation of Tax Administrators. Most states simply charge a single excise tax per gallon.
“The majority of states,” he said, “it’s pretty straightforward.”