Oregon's fuel tax rises again, even as drivers buy less gas
Gas prices are up. They're about to get even higher.
Oregon drivers will pay 2 cents more on every gallon of gasoline beginning on Jan. 1, 2022, as the state's fuel tax rises to $0.38 per gallon.
The pump price jump was baked into House Bill 2017 — the omnibus $5.3 billion transportation package passed by state lawmakers that year — which included three previous price hikes and a final two-cent increase set for 2024, at which point drivers will be paying 10 cents more per gallon in tax.
There's also a separate 10-cent per gallon fuel tax collected by the city of Portland, plus an $0.184 federal gas tax, meaning Rose City consumers are currently paying roughly $0.64 in taxes on every gallon of gas.
Oregon Department of Transportation data shows that state fuel tax revenue has recovered somewhat from the COVID-19 slump, even though drivers are buying less gas.
As virus restrictions emptied public spaces and converted most white collar commuters into home workers, gross tax revenue dropped from $620 million in calendar year 2019 to $589 million in 2020.
According to ODOT Budget Manager Daniel Porter, the state has collected $486 million in fuel tax revenue through September 2021, about $20 million more than this time in 2019, with the final quarter of revenue yet to be tabulated. But the number of gallons of gasoline sold is lagging previous years, with 1.357 billion gallons sold through September of this year compared with 1.38 billion in September 2019.
All told, some 1.829 billion gallons of gas passed through the pump in 2019, compared with just 1.645 billion last year.
"Annual comparisons on revenue wouldn't quite be apples to apples," said ODOT spokeswoman Shelley M. Snow. "If you look at gallons sold we're still about 2% off of where we were in 2019."
Lawmakers have considered proposals to ditch Oregon's fuel tax in favor of a tax on every mile traveled, which would return electric vehicle users to the tax base, but so far it's just an idea.
Statewide, the average price for regular unleaded gas is $3.78 per gallon, according to the American Automobile Association. That's nearly a buck and a quarter more than the average unleaded gas cost of $2.59 a gallon from this time last year, though still less than the price peak recorded in 2008, per AAA.
The DMV fees charged when drivers renew their vehicle tags, apply for a trip permit or vehicle title will also be rising about 3% next year.
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