Virginia Nears Transition to New Fuel Taxes (Oil Express News Alert 2013-06-12 09:23:38 EDT)

In less than three weeks, Virginia moves away from a flat tax of 17.5cts/gal on gasoline and diesel to levies that reflect wholesale prices of the fuels over the previous six months. According to the Virginia Petroleum, Convenience and Grocery Association (VPCGA), fuel taxes in effect from July 1 through the end of the year will be 11.1cts/gal for gasoline and 20.2cts/gal for diesel. With the addition of the Virginia Petroleum Storage Tank Fee of six tenths of a cent, the total tax and fee required by the state will be 11.7cts/gal for gasoline and 20.9cts/gal for diesel. The existing tax must be assessed for all gallons purchased at the rack through 11:59 p.m. on June 30.While still imposed on a cents-per-gallon basis at the pump, the new gasoline tax level in the state is assessed at 3.5% of the average wholesale prices of unleaded regular (for gasoline) at all Virginia racks over the last six months, or the average wholesale price on Feb. 20, 2013, whichever is higher. For diesel, the tax is 6% of the average wholesale prices of diesel at all Virginia racks over the last six months, or the average wholesale price on Feb. 20, 2013, whichever is higher. VPCGA reminded members this week that an additional tax of 2.1% of the wholesale price will be imposed in the Hampton Roads jurisdictions. These are the counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, Southampton, Surry and York; and the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Hampton, Poquoson, Williamsburg, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach. That wholesale tax has been imposed in Northern Virginia since the early 1980s. Virginia's approach has been seen as a novel way to address the problem of dwindling transportation maintenance funds around the country. Gov. Bob McDonnell's (R) initial proposal to replace the tax with a 0.8ct increase in the sales and use tax dedicated to transportation sent shock waves through the fuel industry and tax policy circles.  Some states are looking at other sources of tax revenue for transportation funds, such as new taxes on gasoline stations and higher motor vehicle registration fees, while others continue to consider simple increases in flat taxes on gasoline.