Illinois Memorial Day drivers face 2nd-highest gas taxes in nation

Illinois Memorial Day drivers face 2nd-highest gas taxes in nation

AAA’s travel forecast estimates 43.8 million people will hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, nearly matching the 2005 record of 44 million people.

Motorists fueling up in Illinois for the weekend will pay some of the nation’s highest taxes.

Illinois’ gas tax of 85 cents per gallon ranks second nationally. Only Californians – by less than two cents – pay higher gas taxes than Illinoisans when you add up federal, state and local gas taxes.

The average retail price of gas May 22 in Illinois was $3.936 – 30 cents higher than the national average of $3.611 per gallon. That made Illinois seventh in the U.S. for the average retail price of gas.

Illinoisans are about to see prices creep up even more, regardless of the price of crude. Come July 1, the state motor fuel tax will increase to 47 cents per gallon – a 28-cent increase since 2019 when Gov. J.B. Pritzker doubled the state gas tax and added annual inflationary increases so state lawmakers would no long face unpopular gas tax votes. The inflation adjustment will make Independence Day travel even costlier.

Illinois taxpayers are already overburdened and say it is a prime motive for leaving the state. As state lawmakers face a May 31 budget deadline, they must decide whether to follow Pritzker’s advice to impose $898 million more in taxes to fund his record-setting $52.7 billion 2025 spending plan.

Fuel taxes in Illinois can inspire a little road rage. There are multiple layers: the state motor fuel excise tax, a prepaid sales tax, fees, the federal tax and local taxes added by municipalities.

Illinois is one of the few states to charge a sales tax on gasoline, adding it after the motor fuel tax is applied. That means Illinois drivers get taxed on the taxes they pay for gas.

Middle- and lower-income families give up a greater share of their household budgets to gasoline, a cost that is hard to avoid and still get to work, transport children or get away for a three-day weekend.

By filling up outside of Illinois, you can save money on holiday travel. Maybe more importantly, you will be sending a message to state politicians that you’re tired of paying for their next big adventure.

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