By Paul Gable
An increase in the gasoline tax is part of the SC General Assembly debate on road funding and tax considerations this week.
This debate will potentially be the one that affects taxpayers the most in the coming years.
One thing I believe you can count on is that before this debate is finished and by the time next year’s budget kicks in, gasoline taxes in the state will have been increased.
South Carolina’s current 16.75 cents per gallon tax on gasoline is one of the lowest in the nation. Last year, the SC House passed a proposal to increase that tax by 10 cents per gallon.
The SC Senate Finance Committee is currently considering a proposal to increase the gasoline tax by 12 cents per gallon.
When both Houses of the legislature are considering a tax increase, it’s a pretty good bet one will be forthcoming. Additionally, with gasoline prices as low as they’ve been in 10 years, this is the perfect time to raise gasoline taxes because consumers have been accustomed to paying much more than the $1.60 or so per gallon currently charged at the pumps.
Along with the gasoline tax debate are proposals to reduce the state’s income tax.
This ploy was introduced by Gov. Nikki Haley last year and the legislature has picked up on it.
If you can get the taxpayers concentrating on how much they could save in reduced income taxes, maybe they won’t notice, or at least oppose, a gas tax increase.
Haley’s proposal last year even went so far as to call the increased gas tax combined with the reduced income tax “revenue neutral.”
However, her gas tax increase was supposed to be phased on over three years while the income tax cuts were phased on over 10 years and the assumptions on income taxes saved was based upon a 4.3% annual rise in incomes for South Carolina taxpayers.
When have South Carolina incomes ever increased an average of 4.3% per year over a 10 year period? I would submit never!
But, that is exactly the type of game that will be played with numbers in Columbia as this debate continues.
Pay close attention to this debate as it continues in Columbia. It is your wallet they are really talking about.