Maryland, Georgia move to temporarily suspend gas tax amid nationwide high prices

The current spike in gas prices is due in part to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

March 19, 2022, 11:14 AM

Some states are pressing ahead in an attempt to relieve the pain at the pump many Americans are feeling these days by temporarily suspending gas taxes to help lower high prices.

Maryland on Friday became the first state in the nation to suspend its gas tax after Gov. Larry Hogan signed legislation which waives the 36.1 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and its 36.85 cents per gallon tax on diesel, effective immediately, for the next 30 days.

PHOTO: The price of gas continues to rise at a Marathon gas station, March 15, 2022, in Griffin, Ga.
The price of gas continues to rise at a Marathon gas station, March 15, 2022, in Griffin, Ga.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

"This is, of course, not a cure-all, and market instability will continue to lead to fluctuations in prices, but we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to provide relief for Marylanders," the Republican governor said in a statement.

Also on Friday, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a similar bill that would eliminate the state's roughly 29 cents per gallon tax on gasoline through the end of May.

Kemp made a similar move in 2021 when he temporarily waived state taxes on motor fuels to offset prices after a key pipeline that carries fuel to much of Georgia and the East Coast, shut down following a cybersecurity attack involving ransomware.

The closure at Colonial Pipeline in May, which transports approximately 45% of all fuel consumed on the East Coast, had raised prices and gas stations throughout the Southeast and caused reported fuel outages as motorists rushed to the pump.

Gas prices overall were already gradually on the rise last year due to several factors as the country began to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic and fuel demand increased among Americans and businesses.

The current spike in gas prices is due in part to Russia's invasion of Ukraine last month and the U.S. ban on imports of Russian oil and other energy products that followed. About 8% of U.S. imports of crude oil and petroleum products came from Russia last year, according to preliminary U.S. government data; 3% of U.S. oil came from Russia.

The average U.S. price of regular-grade gasoline soared to record-highs last week, peaking at $4.326 per gallon, according to AAA -- levels not seen since July 2008.

PHOTO: Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signs a bill into law to suspend the state's gas tax for 30 days during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, Md., March 18, 2022.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signs a bill into law to suspend the state's gas tax for 30 days during a bill signing ceremony in Annapolis, Md., March 18, 2022.
Brian Witte/AP

As of Friday, the national average price of regular-grade gasoline was at $4.262 per gallon.

And it's not just Maryland and Georgia looking to suspend state gasoline taxes.

Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer also called on a temporary suspension of its tax on fuel -- a move she said "will provide drivers relief at the pump right now -- not next year."

"I'm ready to work across the aisle with the legislature to negotiate a bipartisan solution that cuts taxes and lowers costs for drivers, seniors, and working families," Whitmer said in a statement.

In California, state lawmakers proposed a $400 gas rebate to help drivers with the soaring gasoline prices.

A group of 10 California Democrats brought the proposal forward Thursday, saying that they would use $9 billion of the state's budget surplus to provide a $400 rebate to every California taxpayer. The rebate would cover the state's current gas tax for an entire year for cars with 15-gallon tanks, ABC-owned Los Angeles station, KABC reported.

Evidence of the need for relief at the pump couldn't have been more visually apparent than the scenes that played out in the Chicago area this week.

Traffic was backed up at various gas stations across the city Thursday as drivers vied for $50 in free gas.

Former Chicago mayoral candidate and businessman Dr. Willie Wilson donated $200,000 worth of gas to participating gas stations "to alleviate some of the pain that Chicagoans are experiencing because of the highest fuel prices in 14 years," he said.

On Friday, Wilson announced another giveaway planned for March 24 worth $1 million and expanded to include 50 participating locations in Chicago and suburban Cook County.

Local carpenter Ricky Kimmons who participated in the giveaway, told ABC owned Chicago station WLS it costs him $147 to fill up SUV due to the high prices.

"I was like, 'Is this for real?' And then I seen it on the news, so I started trying to find out the locations, and I was like 'oh, there's one right here by the house five minutes away.' Got right up, came right over here," Kimmons said.

"It helps me tremendously, a whole lot, just don't know how much I appreciate free gas right now."

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