Kemp signs law suspending Georgia gas taxes through May

Gas prices are seen at a pump at a Sheetz store in Sewickley, Pa., Monday, March 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed a law suspending Georgia’s motor fuel tax through the end of May.

Lawmakers in both chambers of the General Assembly approved House Bill 304 without opposition, in an attempt to give drivers a break from high gas prices.

Georgia’s gasoline price includes a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon and a state tax of 29.1 cents per gallon. A number of cities and counties also charge taxes. Federal taxes on diesel fuel are 24.4 cents per gallon, while Georgia’s tax on diesel is 32.6 cents per gallon. The measure would also abate Georgia’s taxes on aviation gasoline, liquefied petroleum gas and other fuels including compressed natural gas.

It could take some time for consumers to see relief because gas stations now are selling fuel that was taxed earlier at the wholesale level.

Suspending collections could cost the state up to $400 million that would be used for road building and other transportation projects. The Republican Kemp plans to use part of the roughly $1.25 billion in leftover surplus from the last budget year, beyond $1.1 billion in state income tax refunds, to cover any gap in transportation funding.

Kemp could extend the tax break via executive order that would have to be ratified later by lawmakers. Kemp abated gas taxes in 2021 during a pipeline shutdown, and former Gov. Nathan Deal suspended gas taxes multiple times.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia has already been advocating for the federal government to suspend collection of its gas tax, responding to discontent over rising fuel prices.

Both Kemp and Warnock are running for reelection this year.

The average price for a gallon of gas in the U.S. on Thursday was $4.27, according to AAA. It was $4.22 in Georgia. Prices have been dropping over the past week as oil prices have fallen, after spiking following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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