State News

NC gas tax jumps almost 4 cents with New Year

Posted January 1, 2012 8:02 a.m. EST
Updated January 2, 2012 7:06 p.m. EST

— The new year is already bringing changes to North Carolina drivers in the form of a record high tax on gasoline.

Revenue Secretary David Hoyle said last month the state motor fuels tax would grow by 3.9 cents per gallon, to 38.9 cents, starting Sunday. That's the highest-ever state tax on gas. The tax rose by 2.5 cents per gallon in July.

State law directs the tax be recalculated automatically twice a year based on a formula linked to wholesale gas prices.

"I think (gas prices) are ridiculous," Raleigh driver Diane Barnes said Monday. "There has been a big jump in the gas price within the last week."

A federal subsidy on ethanol production that expired on Saturday added another 4.5 cents to the price of gas.

"It costs me almost as much to go to work as to actually work," driver Scottie Hartsfield said.

According to AAA, gas prices averaged $3.27 a gallon in North Carolina and nationwide on Monday, compred with $3.22 in North Carolina and $3.23 nationwide a week ago.

A year ago, gas was selling for an average of $3.03 a gallon in North Carolina and $3.07 nationwide, according to AAA.

Dwayne Harris, who drives up to 100 miles a day delivering snacks in an 18-foot truck, estimated that latest increase in gas prices would add $200 to $300 to his monthly expenses.

"I'm independently operated, (and I) pay for my own gas," Harris said. "It cuts into my pocket. and it's just tough right now."

Driver Tyshon Jones said gas was selling for $3.13 a gallon on South Saunders Street in Raleigh three weeks ago. On Monday, he said, it appeared that the station had merely transposed numbers on the $3.31-a-gallon gas.

"I think it's outrageous when people are just trying to get to work," Jones said. "Nowadays, you have to choose whether you want to buy a gallon of gas or a gallon of milk."

The North Carolina House voted in November to cap the tax at 35 cents for six months, but the Senate declined to take up the bill, saying it wasn't the right time to consider the change.