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- State and local gas taxes in New York state are about 50 cents per gallon, and the average price is currently above $4 per gallon.
- Helming corrected her mistake in online postings.
Since October, State Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua, has been calling for the temporary suspension of New York State’s gas tax because of rising gas prices.
During a recent radio interview, Helming told Fingerlakes1.com that the state’s gas tax is about 50 cents per gallon.
"Almost half of every dollar that we spend on gas, it goes to New York State," she said. A few minutes later, she repeated the claim: "Again, almost half of every single dollar that each person spends on gas goes to New York State." She also made the claim in a Facebook post, though the post was edited after we contacted her office for this fact-check.
Really? Half of every dollar that New Yorkers spend to fill their tanks goes to state government?
We checked with the state Department of Taxation and Finance. Spokesman James Gazzale sent us a breakdown of all the state taxes that are collected on a gallon of motor fuel. The total state tax is 33.35 cents per gallon. The state taxes are generally fixed and do not change with the price per gallon. The components of the state tax, per gallon are:
- Excise tax: 8 cents
- Petroleum business tax: 17.3 cents
- State sales tax: 8 cents, but 8.75 cents in the New York City area
- Petroleum testing fee: .05 cents
The petroleum business tax is set every year. The state sales tax rate has been fixed at 8 cents per gallon since 2006.
In addition to the state taxes, motorists also pay a local sales tax, which varies by county but is around 4 percent of the price per gallon, as well as a federal excise tax of 18.4 cents per gallon. For a New Yorker filling up in a county where the local sales tax is 4 percent, they can expect to pay a total of 67.75 cents in all taxes per gallon.
Jared Walczak, vice president of state projects at the Tax Foundation, said that the percentage of money that consumers pay to the state government for gas taxes falls when gas prices rise. That is because much of New York's taxes are set on a cents-per-gallon rate, not a percentage of the price per gallon.
Not including the federal excise tax, the gas tax in New York was 48.22 cents per gallon, as of Jan. 1, Walczak said.
If fuel costs $4.33 per gallon, the gas tax in New York would be 11 cents on the dollar, he said.
When we reached out to Helming’s office, spokeswoman Krista Gleason told us that a staff person incorrectly briefed Helming. The staff has since removed references to her incorrect claim to avoid promoting the error.
Helming correctly said during the interview that the gas tax in New York is about 50 cents per gallon. Helming’s office relied on gas tax information from the American Petroleum Institute when making that claim.
Helming said almost half of every dollar that motorists spend on gas goes to New York State.
The gas tax in New York is about 50 cents per gallon, not including the federal excise tax, but a gallon of gas now costs more than $4, meaning that the tax is far lower than half the cost of gas.
Helming said the money "goes to New York State," which is also wrong. Part of the gas tax is levied by counties and stays local.
We rate her claim False.
Fingerlakes1.com radio interview, "Helming: Suspend gas tax, use budget surplus to maintain roads and bridges," March 8, 2022. Accessed March 9, 2022.
Facebook, Senator Pam Helming, March 8, 2022. Accessed March 9, 2022.
Email interview, Lucy Dadayan, senior research associate, Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center at the Urban Institute, March 9, 2022.
Phone interview, Jared Walczak, vice president of state projects, Tax Foundation, March 9, 2022.
Email interview, James Gazzale, spokesperson, New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, March 10, 2022.
Tax Foundation, "Suspending the Gas Tax Is a Mistake," Feb. 22, 2022. Accessed March 9, 2022.
Email interview, Krista Gleason, spokesperson, state Sen. Pam Helming, March 10, 2022.
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Publication 718-F, "Local Sales and Use Tax Rates on Qualified Motor Fuel, Highway Diesel Motor Fuel, and B20 Biodiesel," Effective March 1, 2022.
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Publication 908, "Fuel Tax Rates," January 2022.
American Petroleum Institute, map, "Gasoline Tax." Accessed March 14, 2022.
Email, phone conversation, Jessica Schuster, associate deputy comptroller, Erie County, March 14, 2022.
NYSERDA.gov, "Weekly Average Motor Gasoline Prices," March 15, 2022.
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