Illinois has one of the highest taxes on gasoline in the country, something every Illinois motorist is acutely aware of when filling up at the pump.|
The high cost per gallon has some gubernatorial hopefuls calling for cutting taxes on petroleum. Two candidates for the GOP nomination say they would go after the sales tax on gas.
Illinois levies a sales tax on gas sales, in addition to a 39-cent per gallon gasoline tax. It is one of seven states to do both.
"We have very, very high taxes. We have taxes on top of taxes," said Beth Moser, Illinois public affairs director for the American Automobile Association.
The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in Illinois on Jan. 31, including state, federal and sales tax, was $3.37, according to AAA.
On the same date the average prices in neighboring states were:
• Missouri: $3.03
• Iowa: $3.25
• Kentucky: $3.25
• Indiana: $3.25
• Wisconsin: $3.26
These figures do not include county and city taxes which are piled on top of the state and federal taxes. For example, in Chicago the price of a gallon of gas includes a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, a state tax, a county tax, a city tax and a state environmental tax.
Here's what that looks like when you add all those levies together, in Illinois and its neighbors, as tracked by the American Petroleum Institute:
Illinois (on average): 57.5 cents
Missouri: 35.7 cents
Iowa: 40.4 cents
Kentucky: 49.2 cents
Indiana: 57.09 cents
Wisconsin: 51.3 cents
Illinois' sales tax, since it's percentage-based, goes up with prices, as opposed to the flat tax, which is based on the number of gallons purchased.
Opponents of the current gasoline tax structure say the increased price in the Land of Lincoln hurts the state's economy because it encourages Illinois motorists in border regions to fill up in neighboring states.
On Jan. 31, the average cost of gas in Chicago was $3.80, 50 cents more expensive than the $3.30 that can be found in neighboring Hammond, Ind., a half-hour away.
And in Quincy, Ill., on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, gas costs about 25 to 30 cents more than it does in West Quincy, Mo., said Carl Adams, Vice President of Illinois' Ayers Oil Company in Quincy. West Quincy has no permanent residents and is comprised mostly of convenience stores.
"If you were to come to West Quincy, Mo., I would show you the license plates. They're all Illinois licenses," Adams said.
Bill Fleishli, vice president of Illinois Petroleum Marketers Association, noted that Illinois taxes food and medicine at a lower rate because of their essential need for living.
"I think those same arguments can be made for sales tax on gasoline to be removed," he said.
"People have to be more mobile to go to work, people have to be mobile to go to school, people have to be more mobile to be re-educated for new jobs, and the expense of gasoline could be reduced by 25 to 30 cents [per gallon] in Illinois. I think that would be a great tax relief," Fleishli said.
So where do the gubernatorial candidates stand on the issue?
• State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, wants to cut the sales tax by 70%.
• State Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, has called for eliminating the sales tax.
• Bruce Rauner and Dan Rutherford declined to address whether they would support a cut to the tax on gas when asked by a reporter.
Gov. Pat Quinn's office did not respond to repeated inquiries from Illinois News Network.