Georgia gas tax suspension: Senate passes bill, Kemp expected to sign Friday
ATLANTA - The Georgia Senate voted 55-0 on Thursday to approve a bill that would temporarily suspend the collection of state motor vehicle taxes in the state.
House Bill 304 pauses the tax through May 31 after gas prices soared to record highs in Georgia because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The bill has sped through the Georgia General Assembly since Kemp first announce the measure on March 9. It took only nine days for it to be approved by both chambers. The measure earlier passed the state House 150-0.
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Gov. Brian Kemp said he is grateful for the unanimous support for the bill.
"I'm looking forward to signing this into law and to putting money back into the pockets of hardworking Georgians!" the governor wrote in a tweet following the passage of the bill. "We appreciate all in the Senate who voted with us on this important measure."
Katie Byrd, a spokesperson for Kemp, said he could sign the measure into law as early as Friday.
"The 29 cents is not going to completely solve the problem, but it’s a start and it’s a statement," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, a Rome Republican. "It will have to be filled in from the rainy day fund, but it’s raining a big storm right now."
Officials estimate it will cost the state about $160 million per month.
What is the gas tax in Georgia?
Georgia collects a state excise tax of 28.7 cents per gallon, according to a January 2022 report from American Petroleum Institute. Georgians pay 55.95 center per gallon accounting for all state and federal taxes and fees.
The measure would also abate Georgia’s taxes on aviation gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and other fuels including compressed natural gas.
During the Colonial Pipeline shutdown in 2021, Kemp suspended the gas tax to provide relief while the company recovered from a cyberattack.
What is not covered by the suspension of the gas tax in Georgia?
The federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon on gasoline and the federal taxes of 24.4 cents per gallon on diesel fuel are not covered under the bill.
A number of cities and counties also charge taxes.
Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has already been advocating for the federal government to suspend collection of its gas tax, responding to discontent over rising fuel prices.
Both Kemp and Warnock are running for reelection this year.
When will drivers see relief at the gas pumps?
It could take some time for consumers to see relief, because gas stations now are selling fuel they were taxed on at the wholesale level.
Sen. Jen Jordan, a Sandy Springs Democrat, asked whether the bill guarantees consumers will see the decreases. Hufstetler said laws against price gouging should provide some protection.
How will Georgia offset the cost for the gas tax suspension?
Suspending collections could cost the state up to $400 million that would be used for road building and other transportation projects. The Kemp administration plans to use part of the roughly $1.25 billion in leftover surplus from the last budget year, beyond $1.1 billion in state income tax refunds, to cover any gap in transportation funding. Kemp could also dip into the state’s $4.3 billion rainy day fund.
When does the gas tax suspension end in Georgia?
When the governor signs the bill, it will run through May 31.
Byrd said Kemp could extend the tax break via executive order that would have to be ratified later by lawmakers.
What is the current average for a gallon of gas in Georgia?
The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. on Thursday was $4.29, according to AAA.
It was $4.24 in Georgia.
Prices have dropped slightly in the last week as oil prices have dipped slightly.
How does Georgia's gas tax compare to other states?
Georgia's total of 55.95 cents per gallon came in lower than the national average of 57.09 cents per gallon. Georgia ranks 15th-highest among all U.S. states and Washington D.C.
California's 86.55 cents per gallon is the highest total tax figure while Alaska's 33.53 center per gallon is the lowest.
President Biden bans Russian oil imports
President Joe Biden has decided to ban Russian oil imports, toughening the toll on Russia’s economy in retaliation for its invasion of Ukraine, according to a person familiar with the matter.
"We're banning all imports of Russian oil and gas and energy. That means Russian oil will no longer be accepted at U.S. ports," the president announced on Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report