(Photo: Joclyn Bushman/Iowa Soybean Association)
Gassed over fuel prices
June 30, 2022 | Jeff Hutton
When gas prices reached a nationwide average of $5 per gallon, it prompted the Biden administration to ask Congress and individual states to suspend federal and state fuel taxes on both gas and diesel fuel.
Although there have been earlier requests by others seeking a moratorium, the response has been mixed with pushback from both sides of the political aisle saying a moratorium is nothing more than a short-term “feel-good” measure.
Thus far, Congress has yet to consider any action on the federal side.
Some states, like Connecticut and New York, have temporarily suspended gas taxes. In Illinois and Colorado, governors are delaying planned tax and fee increases from going through. There is nothing under consideration in Iowa.
What are the numbers?
Mike Steenhoek, executive director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, offers these numbers to peruse:
- The average American annually drives 14,263 miles (source: U.S. Department of Transportation)
- The average fuel economy is 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg) (source: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
- Americans on average pay 57.09 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes (18.4 cents per gallon in federal gasoline taxes + 38.69 cents per gallon in Iowa gasoline taxes) (source: American Petroleum Institute). Other state gas taxes will be higher or lower than 38.69 cents per gallon average.
- 14,263 miles ÷ 25.4 mpg = 562 gallons of gasoline purchased each year
- 562 gallons of gasoline x $0.5709 per gallon in gasoline taxes = $320.85 spent each year in gasoline taxes (federal and state combined). 562 gallons of gasoline x $0.184 per gallon in federal gasoline taxes = $103.41 spent in federal gasoline taxes alone.
- $320.85 ÷ 365 days = 88 cents per day (federal and state gasoline taxes combined). $103.41 ÷ 365 days = 28 cents per day (federal gasoline taxes alone).
The average American will spend 88 cents per day (federal and state combined) on gasoline taxes, 28 cents per day on federal gasoline taxes alone. Obviously, Americans will spend much more in total fuel costs, but the daily cost for gasoline taxes is 88 cents.
For farmers, here are some other numbers to consider:
- The average tax per gallon for diesel fuel is 64.64 cents (24.4 cents per gallon in federal diesel taxes + 40.24 cents per gallon in state diesel taxes) (source: American Petroleum Institute). Individual state diesel taxes will be higher or lower than 40.24 cents per gallon average.
- 135,000 total bushels produced (110,000 bushels of corn + 25,000 bushels of soybeans). 600 acres of corn x 183 bushels per acre = 110,000 bushels. 500 acres of soybeans x 50 bushels per acre = 25,000 bushels. Of course, many farmers produce significantly more or fewer bushels.
- Utilizing a five-axle, 80,000 lbs. semi (many states have higher weight allowances, but 80,000 lbs. is a common weight limit), the farmer would require 114 trips for corn (964 bushels per load) and 28 trips for soybeans (900 bushels per load). Total trips = 142.
- If the delivery location is 25 miles from the farm (50 miles roundtrip), 7,100 miles would be driven to deliver the total farm production. Of course, some farmers drive significantly longer or shorter distances to access their preferred delivery location.
- If the average miles per gallon for the semi-truck is five, 7,100 miles ÷ 5 mpg = 1,420 gallons purchased.
- 1,420 gallons purchased x $0.6464 = $917.89 spent each year in diesel taxes (federal and state combined). 1,420 gallons x $0.244 per gallon in federal diesel taxes alone = $346.48.
- $917.89 ÷ 365 days = $2.51 per day (federal and state combined). $346.48 ÷ 365 days = $0.95 per day (federal diesel taxes alone).
In this example, a farmer would therefore save 95 cents a day by just a federal suspension of the fuel tax and $2.51 cents per day if both federal and Iowa diesel taxes were suspended, Steenhoek says.
A recent drop
Whether or not a gas tax moratorium occurs, there is good news … for now.
For the second consecutive week, the U.S. average gas price dropped, now averaging $4.88 per gallon, according to GasBuddy data. Diesel figures have also dropped to a national average of $5.79 per gallon.
As of June 30, GasBuddy reports the lowest regular unleaded gas price in Iowa is at Murphy USA in Ankeny, listing $4.14 per gallon. Sam’s Club in Waterloo was the lowest reported diesel price at $4.99 per gallon.
“With Independence Day (approaching), gas prices have continued to fall for the second straight week as the price of oil has faltered, ushering in the drop we’re seeing. The good news is we could also see a third-straight week of decline,” says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “While prices will be at their highest July 4th level ever, they’ll have fallen close to 20 cents since our peak in early June.”
But De Haan warns there are no guarantees the trend will continue.
“Motorists should be wary that while the decline could continue for the week ahead, any sudden jolts to supply could quickly cause a turnaround, and risk remains that when the peak of hurricane season arrives, we could see a super spike at the pump.”