Fuel tax

A fuel tax (also known as a petrol, gasoline or gas tax, or as a fuel duty) is an excise tax imposed on the sale of fuel. In most countries the fuel tax is imposed on fuels which are intended for transportation. Fuels used to power agricultural vehicles, and/or home heating oil which is similar to diesel are taxed at a different, usually lower rate. The fuel tax receipts are often dedicated or hypothecated to transportation projects so that the fuel tax is considered by many a user fee. In other countries, the fuel tax is a source of general revenue. Sometimes, the fuel tax is used as an ecotax, to promote ecological sustainability. Fuel taxes are often considered regressive taxes.[1]

Role in energy policy

Taxes on transportation fuels have been advocated as a way to reduce pollution and the possibility of global warming and conserve energy. Placing higher taxes on fossil fuels makes petrol just as expensive as other fuels such as natural gas, biodiesel or electric batteries, at a cost to the consumer in the form of inflation as transportation costs rise to transport goods all over the country.

Proponents advocate that automobiles should pay for the roads they use and argue that the user tax should not be applied to mass transit projects.

Tax rates

International pump prices for diesel and gasoline for November 2010 are available at http://web.archive.org/web/20110315151539/http://www.gtz.de:80/en/themen/29957.htm . Price history from surveys taken in November of even number years are also available. Price differences mostly reflect differences in tax policy.

Fuel tax in OECD countries 2010 [2]



In China, fuel tax has been a very contentious issue. Efforts by the State Council to institute a fuel tax in order to finance the National Trunk Highway System have run into strong opposition from the National People's Congress, largely out of concern for its impact on farmers. This has been one of the uncommon instances in which the legislature has asserted its authority.[3]

Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, leaded petrol is taxed at $6.82 per litre and unleaded petrol at $6.06 per litre. The tax on Euro V diesel is $0.[4]


In India, the pricing of fuel varies by state, though central taxes still are part of the pump price of fuel. The Central and state government's taxes make up nearly half of petrol's pump price. The Central govt has different taxes, which amount to about 24–26% of the final cost. The states taxes vary, but on average end up making about 20–25% of the final cost. As a result, approximately 50% of the pump cost goes to the government in the form of different taxes.

For example, in Bengaluru, Karnataka as of May 16, 2011, price of petrol is 71.09 (US$1.10) per litre. Out of this, 17.06 (25¢ US) go to Govt of India in the form of excise and customs tax. 16.63 (25¢ US) is collected by state government in the form of sales tax and entry tax. Thus, a total of 33.69 (50¢ US) is collected due to various taxes (which accounts for around 47% of the total price).[5]



Petroleum products destined for utilisation by aircraft engaged in commercial flights outside of the customs territory of continental France are exempt from all customs duties and domestic taxes.[6]


Fuel taxes in Germany are €0.4704 per litre for ultra-low sulphur Diesel and €0.6545 per litre for conventional unleaded petrol, plus Value Added Tax (19%) on the fuel itself and the Fuel Tax. That adds up to prices of €1.12 per litre for ultra-low sulphur Diesel and €1.27 per litre (approximately US$6.14 per US gallon) for unleaded petrol (December 2014).


The sale of fuels in the Netherlands is levied with an excise tax. As of 2015, petrol excise tax is EUR0.766 per litre and diesel excise tax is EUR0.482 per litre, while LPG excise tax is EUR0.185 per litre.[7] The 2007 fuel tax was €0.684 per litre or $3.5 per gallon. On top of that is 21% VAT over the entire fuel price, making the Dutch taxes one of the highest in the world. In total, taxes account for 68.84% of the total price of petrol and 56.55% of the total price of diesel.[8] A 1995 excise was raised by Dutch gulden 25 cents (€0.11), the Kok Quarter (€0.08 raise per litre gasoline and €0.03 raise per litre diesel), by then Prime-Minister Wim Kok is now specifically set aside by the second Balkenende cabinet for use in road creation and road and public transport maintenance.


Motor fuel is taxed with both a road use tax and a CO2-tax. The road use tax on petrol is NOK 4.62 per litre and the CO2-tax on petrol is NOK 0.88 per litre. The road use tax on auto diesel is NOK 3.62 per litre mineral oil and NOK 1.81 per litre bio diesel. The CO2-tax on mineral oil is NOK 0.59 per litre.[9]


In Poland half of the end-user price charged at a petrol station goes towards 3 distinct taxes:

Excise and fuel tax are prescribed by European Commission law, and therefore cannot be lower in any EU nation. However it is even higher than this EU minimum in Poland, a policy pursued by the former Minister of finance. [10]


Tax on mineral resource extraction (2008–2009):

Excise tax on motor fuel 2008–2009:

Other fuel (like avia gasoline, jet fuel, heavy oils, natural gas and autogas) prices has no excise tax.

Value Added Tax — 18% on fuel and taxes.

Full tax rate is near 55% of motor fuel prices (ministry of industry and energy facts 2006).


The fuel tax in Sweden comprises a carbon tax and an energy tax. The total tax (including value added tax) is, from January 1, 2014, 8.285 kr per liter petrol.[11]

United Kingdom

Main article: Hydrocarbon oil duty

From 23 March 2011 the UK duty rate for the road fuels unleaded petrol, diesel, biodiesel and bioethanol is GB£0.5795 per litre (£2.63 per imperial gallon or £2.19 per U.S. gallon).[12]

Value Added Tax at 20% is also charged on the price of the fuel and on the duty. An additional vehicle excise duty, depending on a vehicle's CO2 production per kilometre, which depends directly on fuel consumption, is also levied.

Diesel for use by farmers and construction vehicles is coloured red (Red Diesel) and has a much reduced tax, currently GB£0.1133 per litre (£0.52 per imperial gallon or £0.43 per U.S. gallon).[12]

Jet fuel used for international aviation attracts no duty, and no VAT.[13]

North America


Fuel taxes in Canada can vary greatly between locales. On average, about one-third of the total price of gas at the pump is tax. Excise taxes on gasoline and diesel are collected both federal and provincial governments, as well as by some select municipalities (Montreal, Vancouver, and Victoria); with combined excise taxes varying from 16.2 ¢/L (73.6 ¢/imperial gal; 61.2 ¢/US gal) in the Yukon to 30.5 ¢/L ($1.386/imperial gal; $1.153/US gal) in Vancouver. As well, the federal government and some provincial governments (Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Quebec) collect sales tax (GST and PST) on top of the retail price and the excise taxes.[14]

United States

The first U.S. state to enact a gas tax was Oregon in 1919. The states of Colorado, North Dakota, and New Mexico followed shortly thereafter. By 1929, all existing 48 states had enacted some sort of gas tax.[15] Today, fuel taxes in the United States vary by state. The United States federal excise tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon (4.86 ¢/L) and 24.4 cents per gallon (6.45 ¢/L) for diesel fuel. On average, as of July 2016, state and local taxes add 29.78 cents to gasoline and 29.81 cents to diesel for a total US average fuel tax of 48.18 cents per gallon for gas (12.89 ¢/L) and 54.21 cents per gallon for diesel (14.37 ¢/L).[16]

The state and local tax figures includes fixed-per-gallon taxes as well as variable-rate taxes such as those levied as a percentage of the sales price. For state-level fuel taxes, nineteen states and the District of Columbia levy variable-rate taxes of some kind.[17] The other thirty one states do not tie the per-gallon tax rate to inflation, gas prices, or other factors, and the rate changes only by legislation. As of July 2016, twenty one states had gone ten years or more without an increase in their per-gallon gasoline tax rate.[18]

Because the fuel tax is universally styled as a "road use" tax, exempting off-road farming, marine, etc. use; states impose a tax on commercial operators traveling through their state as if the fuel used was bought there, wherever the fuel is purchased. While most commercial truck drivers have an agent to handle the required paperwork: what's reported is how much tax was collected in each state, how much should have been paid to each state, the net tax for each state and the combined net tax for all states to be paid by or refunded to the operator by their base jurisdiction where they file. The operator carries paperwork proving compliance. The member jurisdictions, the US states and the CA provinces, transmit the return information to each other and settle their net tax balances with each other either by a single transmittal through a clearinghouse set up by the IFTA and operated by Morgan Stanley, or by separate transfers with the other member jurisdictions.[19]



The fuel tax system in Australia is very similar to Canada in terms of featuring both a fixed and a variable tax, but varies in the case of exemptions including tax credits and certain excise free fuel.

Since 2015, the fuel tax in Australia is A$0.38143 per litre for petrol and ultra-low sulphur diesel (conventional diesel being taxed at A$0.38143 per litre) and the excise for LPG is $0.225 per litre. Since 2000, there is also the GST on top of the fuel tax and inflation calculated twice a year into the fuel tax since 2015.

New Zealand

Fuel taxes in New Zealand are considered an excise applied by the New Zealand Customs Service on shipments brought into the country. A breakdown of the fuel taxes is published by the Ministry of Economic Development. Excise as at 1 August 2012 totals 50.524 cents per litre ($1.89/imperial gal; $1.58/US gal) on petrol. In addition the national compulsory Accident Compensation Corporation motor vehicle account receives a contribution of 9.9 cents/litre (37.1¢/imperial gal; 30.9¢/US gal). The ethanol component of bio blended petrol currently attracts no excise duty. This was to be reviewed in 2012. Diesel is not taxed at the pump, but road users with vehicles over 3.5 tonne in Gross Laden Weight and any vehicles not powered wholly by any combination of petrol, LPG or CNG must pay the Road User Charge instead. The Goods and Services Tax (15%) is then applied to the combined total of the value of the commodity and the various taxes. On 25 July 2007 the Minister of Transport Annette King announced that from 1 July 2008 all fuel excise collected would be hypothecated to the National Land Transport Programme.[20]

See also


  1. https://apps.irs.gov/app/understandingTaxes/whys/thm03/les05/media/ws_ans_thm03_les05.pdf
  2. Petrol tax, The Economist, 25 Sep 2010, p. 110
  3. http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/Issues/2009/January/ChinaBitesTheBulletOnFuelTax.asp
  4. "Half of what you pay for petrol is taxes". Deccan Herald. May 16, 2011. Retrieved May 25, 2012.
  5. France Customs Code (Code des Douanes) Article 195
  6. Main features of the Government’s tax programme for 2011
  7. http://biznes.gazetaprawna.pl/artykuly/535404,mamy_najdrozsze_paliwo_na_swiecie_polowa_ceny_to_podatki.html
  8. http://www.preem.se/templates/page____791.aspx. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. 1 2 "Hydrocarbon Oils: Duty Rates" (PDF). HMRC.
  10. "Notice 179A Aviation Turbine Fuel (Avtur)". HM Revenue & Customs. December 2006.
  11. "Oil and Gas Prices, Taxes and Consumers". Department of Finance (Canada). July 2006. pp. 6b) Application of the GST. Archived from the original on December 21, 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-13.
  12. "Pain at the Pump", Rall, Jamie. State Legislatures magazine; June 2013. National Conference of State Legislatures
  13. "Motor Fuel Taxes: State Gasoline Tax Reports". API. 2016.
  14. "Most Americans Live in States with Variable-Rate Gas Taxes". ITEP. 2016.
  15. "How Long Has It Been Since Your State Raised Its Gas Tax?". ITEP. 2016.
  16. International Fuel Tax Agreement
  17. "Fuel excise duty revenue will all be used on land transport". Beehive (New Zealand). July 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-17.

External links

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