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Fill up now, California gas tax increases on Monday

Published On: Jun 30 2013 06:23:35 PM CDT
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If you’re hitting the road or the lake for the 4th of July holiday, you might want to fill up your gas tank Sunday instead of Monday.

A 3.5 cent per gallon increase in the state's gas tax starts Monday.

This will give the state of California the highest gas tax in the nation, as the excise tax goes from 36 cents to 39.5 cents a gallon.  Taxes will account for 72 cents for every gallon that you pump into your tank.

The increase was approved by the state Board of Equalization in February.  It’s part of an annual tax balancing act to ensure revenue neutrality.

The gas tax swap legislation dates back to 2010.  It lowered the sale tax on gasoline and increased the excise tax.  The law requires the annual sales and excise taxes paid on gasoline to remain revenue neutral, assuring the tax burden on consumers is the same.

In 2011 and 2012, the price of gasoline greatly and unexpectedly outpaced declines in consumption.  Higher gasoline prices mean the Board of Equalization must adjust the excise tax to make up for the sales tax loss and achieve the revenue neutrality mandated by legislation approved in 2010.

Most drivers we spoke with in Red Bluff weren't aware of the increased tax.  None of them liked it.

The legislature gave the tax board the authority to raise the excise tax by a simple majority vote.

If a tax had gone before voters as a special tax, it would have needed a two-thirds majority.