Illinois has higher gas prices than national average, all neighboring states, heading into Memorial Day weekend
Motorists in Chicago face higher gas prices than the national and state average, due in part to the multiple layers of taxes heaped upon by state, county and local government.
As travelers across the country hit the road this Memorial Day weekend, drivers in Illinois – and especially Chicago – will feel some extra pain at the pump. Gas prices nationwide are expected to see a slight increase due to Memorial Day demand, but the rise will be amplified across Illinois and particularly in the Windy City due to the layers of taxes state and local government tack on.
Illinois’ gas prices are higher than in all of its bordering states. Missouri has the cheapest gas of Illinois’ border states, and one of the least expensive statewide averages in the country. The average price of gas in the Show Me State is only $2.15 per gallon, making it more than 20 cents cheaper than the national average and about 30 cents cheaper than Illinois’ average price.
Things are even worse for Chicago drivers, where the average price is $2.79 per gallon.
One of the reasons Chicagoans pay so much more for gas is because of the multi-layered taxes levied on fuel at both the state and local level.
On top of the federal gasoline excise tax, Illinois charges a 19-cent state excise tax on gasoline as well as an environmental tax. Illinois is also one of only seven states that apply state sales tax to gas purchases. Unlike standard motor fuel taxes which charge a fixed amount per gallon of gas, sales taxes charge a percentage of a sale, meaning the more expensive gas is, the more expensive the tax bill will be. And though in Illinois, revenue from the state gas tax goes toward road maintenance and infrastructure, the same cannot be said for state sales tax on gas. Revenue accrued from the state sales tax on gas goes to the state general fund, to be spent how lawmakers see fit.
Overall, the Prairie State is ranked 11th in the county for its gasoline tax burden and is more expensive than each of its bordering states, according to a report from the Tax Foundation.
For Chicago motorists a slew of localized taxes intensify this burden. And just like at the state level, drivers are not immune from paying local sales taxes which charge by percentage. Both Cook County and Chicago charge a sales tax as well as excise and home rule taxes, all of which increase the price of gas.
Thankfully for drivers, the price of gas has been dropping in recent years. Though the national average price saw a slight bump up from 2016, the current 2017 average is nearly $1.30 cheaper than at this time in 2014. This trend has also trickled down to Chicago where the average price of gas for Memorial Day weekend in 2014 was $4.14 a gallon, but for Memorial Day weekend 2017 the average price of gas is only $2.78.
One estimate from Illinois Homepage states that gas prices for Memorial Day 2017 will be the second cheapest in the past decade ̶ welcome relief for overtaxed Illinois drivers, though they will still pay more than the state’s neighbors.