Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

We do not pay much in gas tax here

with 16 comments

The graphic below comes from the Economist and shows that, gas prices aside, and although we like to complain about how much tax we have to pay on top of that compared to nearly everyone – except the Americans – we get off pretty lightly

Although the selection is small I agree it is mostly places like us. Iranians pay hardly anything – but they are not on this graph

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 8:47 pm

Posted in energy, Transportation

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16 Responses

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  1. They may not pay much – at least in our terms, but they sure don’t get a lot either. In Iran right now, gas is rationed. Extremely rationed. Several hour line ups are not uncommon. Neither is violence. I can’t wait for that to happen here. Class structures revealed! Finally.


    March 26, 2008 at 5:01 am

  2. Of course it has to be rationed. That is what happens when you underprice things, which is why there is traffic congestion at peak periods (because road space is not priced), as well as wait lists for surgery and line ups at the ER. It has been a long time since I was in Iran but I do not recall ever seeing or hearing of violence at the pumps. But in the Dominican Republic I was quite alarmed to see the pumps guarded by thugs with shot guns

    Stephen Rees

    March 26, 2008 at 7:56 am

  3. So we pay about 18 cents in gas taxes. On gas at $1.10, that’s about 16%. Far less than the 43% those cute little pie charts pasted on the pumps tell us we pay. They also tell us only 3% is profit. Perhaps 3% is the profit for the gas station itself, but that hardly tells the full story.

    Whenever I fill up, I find myself nearly overcome by the urge to rip off the cute little stickers and throw them away.

    Paul Holden

    March 26, 2008 at 9:41 am

  4. The federal excise tax is 10 cents per litre. The B.C. provincial excise tax is 14.5 cents per litre. In Metro Vancouver, TransLink collects 6 cents per litre. Five per cent GST is charged on top of these other taxes. When the price if gasoline is $1 per litre, the overall taxes come to about 36%.


    March 26, 2008 at 11:53 am

  5. >So we pay about 18 cents in gas taxes.

    Look closer , the graph is demoninated in Euros, and 18 Euro-cents is about 30 Canadian cents.


    March 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm

  6. [dopeslap] demoninated, LOL


    March 26, 2008 at 12:26 pm

  7. considering our reserves-the worlds big producers are not on that list, except canada!——we pay through the nose for everything—-fuel-property-food-lumber-is there anything (worldly cheap in bc ) a good loaf of bread is 4 dollars!—– in china they make 2 to 4 dollars a day! 2 incomes 90000 thousand a year – yea,sure double the gas tax-triple it- do yea feel better now!

    grant g

    March 26, 2008 at 1:56 pm

  8. Grant – how do you get from a simple descriptive “is” statement – i.e. we pay less gas tax than most places to a prescriptive “ought” statement? I am not advocating higher gas taxes. But I have very little sympathy for people who drive great big trucks with off road tires and all kinds of power sucking accessories who complain about how much they have to pay for gas (including tax).

    In fact gas tax as a way to pay for transit is stupid. The more successful the transit service is at getting people out of their cars, the less revenue they have!

    I am in favour of sending the right signals in the market place. People seem to be unaware that gas is not going to get any cheaper – but they continue to buy SUVs and Hummers. IF a higher gas tax can change this behaviour then we will be collectively better off – but so far I have yet to see any convincing evidence that current levels of tax- or expected levels in future – are actually changing behaviour very much. And that is because people are still stuck in the “I have no choice” mode. And for anyone who does not live in Vancouver (or along the SkyTrain line) that is probably a true perception on their part.

    Stephen Rees

    March 26, 2008 at 3:07 pm

  9. Right now, for a family of four to take transit, even in one zone only, costs $14 for a round trip using Faresavers. If they already own a car, the marginal cost of driving is only a couple of dollars. So even if they have good transit options and are willing to give up the time, it’s hard to justify financially.


    March 26, 2008 at 4:33 pm

  10. thats what I am saying,triple it to make peoples eyes pop out, people can be herded that way………..but lately I am ever more convinced that the less oil we use the more we will pay! the usa dropped back by 1% last year -oil still spikes,inventories are high so opec lowers output-the genie is out ,cool lets see how much we can pay! more so I am saying that goverments need to weined off easy loot! as long as there`s that easy gas grab -goverment will be stupid! every dollar that goverments get should be treated as the last dollar, parkinsons law–expenditures rise to meet income! lets pay tax! lets know what the tax is for — nothing vague! ,………i`ll gladly pay for a (manhatten project) such as the -BC ELECTRO-GLIDE COMPRESSION AIR CAR –or the -WIND AND TIDE,LAND BASED FISH FARM AND ALTERNATIVE POWER INITIATIVE!– but not 10cent more a litre to build 12 lane highway and a new bridge to sprawlville signed……………………….the wealthy barbour

    grant g

    March 26, 2008 at 4:54 pm

  11. But if you talk to car drivers about why they do not take transit – and Translink regularly has expensive market research firms do just that – fares are not mentioned very much. The main reasons people do not take transit is that it is not convenient for their trips and it is too slow. The only people who talk about fares are transit riders – and even then their perception of the value of fares is much different just after an increase.

    The “marginal cost of driving” is usually a misperception: most drivers ignore the variable costs that rise with distance driven, and only think about gas and parking. Furthermore, given the large upfront costs of car ownership, it seems to make sense to most people to use the car as much as possible once it is sitting there waiting to be used.

    And while your point about the family of four is valid, the average car occupancy in this region is 1.3. For most trips the family these days tends to head off in different directions – hence the rise of the multi-car household.

    Stephen Rees

    March 27, 2008 at 8:12 am

  12. I guess my point wasn’t that fares should come down, although I believe children under 12 should have lower fares, but that it’s too cheap to drive.


    March 27, 2008 at 8:43 am

  13. The mode choice decision is based on “generalised cost” – a combination of out of pocket expenses, time and convenience. While transit in this region has improved in the last ten years, it has not improved enough to change transit’s mode share, which remains at 11% of all trips. The key to improving transit mode share is a much greater improvement in transit service, beyond anything seen so far or currently planned. And the Gateway program is exactly the wrong thing to do – since it aims to make car driving more convenient and puts off transit expansion to the future after the freeway has been expanded.

    Marginal changes in gas tax as a result of Translink’s policies and the coming carbon tax are not enough to either change perceptions of generalised cost or provide enough new revenues to finance the sort of expansions in transit service we need to see. Which is why I advocate a new region wide congestion charging system. But in order for that to work we will have to invest the money that is now going to go into Gateway into transit expansion instead, so that people have a real alternative.

    Stephen Rees

    March 27, 2008 at 9:03 am

  14. >Right now, for a family of four to take transit, even in one zone only, costs $14 for a round trip using Faresavers

    If Mum or Dad is a regular commter, at least they can use their FareCard for free transit on Sundays and Holidays.


    March 27, 2008 at 10:37 am

  15. That’s just the FEDERAL tax. The state taxes are MUCH, MUCH higher.

    The Fed tax at $0.184
    AVERAGE state tax is $0.286

    Making the ACTUAL tax we pay not $0.184, but $0.47.

    That, of course, is the average. California, Connecticut, and New York are in the 60 cents/gallon ballpark.


    April 29, 2008 at 11:39 am

  16. But still way below what is paid in other countries.

    Stephen Rees

    April 29, 2008 at 11:44 am

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