Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

06 August 2008

Gasoline Taxes by State

The Democrats in Congress love to complain about the huge profits being made by the oil companies, who are making a profit of about 8% on their total revenues. This is not a particularly good rate of return for oil company investors. Many industries provide a better profit margin. But Barack Obama calls these windfall profits and wants to confiscate them and turn them over to people with low incomes to help pay for their home heating costs.

Now oil companies revenues come largely from the sale of oil, gasoline, and some organic chemical products, such as those that go into making plastics, waxes, paints and other products. If we assume that they make about the same profit on a gallon of gasoline as they do on all of their other products, then they make a profit of about $0.32 per gallon when gasoline is selling for $4.00 at the pump. In comparison, the sum of gasoline taxes taken by local, state, and federal government in July 2008 is shown by state in this map.

Some states and the federal government have a tax which is a fixed dollar amount per gallon of gasoline. Some states set the rate as a percentage of the cost of the gasoline sold at the pump or have a combination of fixed amount and percentage tax rates. Because Americans used less gasoline in the first half of this year, those states with fixed amount rates are crying in pain because they are raking in less gasoline taxes, so some of them have actually increased the gas tax this year! Those who tax as a percentage of the price are very happy with the gasoline tax money swamping them. Well, of course they are up to the task of spending any tax revenues and then some on top of that!

In July, in California governments raked in $0.749 per gallon of gasoline sold at the pump. Connecticut was nipping at CA's heels at $0.708/gal. total taxes. Let us make a list of the tax take by all levels of government by state for the most expensive states:

California $0.749
Connecticut $0.708
Illinois $0.666
New York $0.623
Michigan $0.607
Indiana $0.569
Washington $0.559
Florida $0.516
Wisconsin $0.513
Hawaii $0.51
Nevada $0.51
Pennsylvania $0.507
West Virginia $0.506
Rhode Island $0.494
North Carolina $0.486

Other state tax takings of interest to some friends and family are:

Ohio $0.464
Kansas $0.434
Minnesota $0.424
Maryland $0.419
Colorado $0.404
Texas $0.384
Oklahoma $0.354

Only South Carolina at $0.352, Wyoming at $0.324, and Alaska at $0.264 have lower gas tax rates than Oklahoma. Only in Alaska is the government gasoline tax taking less than the estimated $0.32/gal. of profit for the oil companies.

So, if you live in a state with a gasoline tax stated as a percentage of the gasoline price, you would have a much better claim for relief from the high cost of gasoline against your state than you would against the oil companies.

In any case, if we have a shortage of gasoline and that is causing the high gasoline prices we are paying, taking profits away from the oil companies will only encourage them to forget drilling for more oil and forget refining oil into gasoline, and perhaps encourage them to invest their money instead into photovoltaics and wind farms, while seeking government subsidies for those operations. Of course, these subsidies will be paid by you for many, many years. But, neither photovoltaics nor wind farms are going to power your car now or in the next few years, so any so-called windfall profits tax on oil companies will only drive the price of gasoline up more. This is exactly what Barack Obama and the Democrats want. They want gasoline to cost more and they want to try to reduce oil and gasoline use while forcing the oil companies to invest more into the development of alternative energy.

The net result for you will be more expensive fuel costs all around and higher taxes to pay for more subsidies. What a bargain. Oh well, you can feel good that you are doing your part to stop man-made global warming! Ah....., but there is no evidence that that is a problem, while there is clear evidence that high energy costs are a huge problem. What a bargain those Democrats are offering you! But, they can sell half the people Brooklyn Bridge, so we have to hand it to them that they are effective salesmen. Demagoguery is their specialty.

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