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December 21, 2022

Pennsylvania's gas tax is among the highest in the U.S. – and it's about to go up

Though the tax is levied against wholesalers, it is expected to be passed along to consumers

Government Taxes
Pa. Gas tax increase Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

Pennsylvania will increase its gas tax from about 58 cents per gallon to more than 61 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, 2023. The diesel fuel tax will jump from 74 cents per gallon to 78.5 cents per gallon.

Drivers should plan to spend more money at gas pumps in Pennsylvania when the new year begins. 

On Jan. 1, the state's gas tax is set to increase from just under 58 cents per gallon to a little more than 61 cents per gallon, Penn Live reported. The diesel fuel tax will increase from about 74 cents per gallon to 78.5 cents per gallon. 

These increases are required by a 2013 state law enacted to fund road and bridge improvements. Though the taxes are levied on wholesalers, the hikes are expected to be passed down to consumers. 

As of Wednesday, the average gas price in Pennsylvania was $3.644 per gallon, higher than the national average of $3.108 per gallon, according to AAA. In Philadelphia, the average price was $3.52 per gallon. Diesel fuel was averaging $5.644 per gallon across the state. 

Only two states tax gas at a higher rate than Pennsylvania, according to a January report from the American Petroleum Institute; only one taxes diesel at a higher rate. 

Gov. Tom Wolf has sought to end the state's reliance on the fuel taxes to fund infrastructure improvements, and to shift the burden elsewhere.

"But to eliminate the gas tax, we need to identify an ongoing, steady revenue source for infrastructure funding – one that will give Pennsylvania the resources we need to repair roads, keep bridges safe and guarantee clean air and water for all," PennDOT spokesperson Alexis Campbell, told Penn Live. 

In June, a judge blocked a PennDOT plan to enact $1-2 tolls at nine interstate bridges, including the Girard Point Bridge in Philadelphia. The tolls would have funded a $2.2 billion project to repair and maintain the bridges.

In July, the state's Transportation Revenue Options Commission recommended several alternatives to the gas tax. A mileage fee was among the ideas proposed, which would charge 8.1 cents per vehicle for every mile driven. Other possibilities included implementing a $1 fee for package deliveries, a $1.11 fee on each ride-share trip, and increasing existing vehicle registration and car rental fees. 

When gas prices rose earlier this year, Pennsylvania's gas tax fell under scrutiny. In March, former state Rep. Tony DeLuca, an Allegheny County Democrat who died in October, introduced legislation to suspend the gas tax for six months. And state Sen. Jake Corman, a Republican who ran for governor, pushed for the gas tax to be cut by one-third for the remainder of the year. 

During the summer, President Joe Biden called for a three-month fuel tax holiday. Federal fuel taxes add 18.4 cents per gallon on gas and 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel. Congress rebuffed his call, though several states enacted gas tax holidays. 

The average price of gas in Pennsylvania peaked at $5.071 per gallon on June 12. Prior to last spring, the record was $4.15 per gallon, set in 2008. Diesel fuel topped out at $6.328 per gallon on May 18.