Motor fuels tax rate to decline on Jan. 1

Reflects drop in average wholesale prices of gasoline, diesel, ethanol

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky’s “gas tax” on sales of gasoline, diesel and ethanol motor fuels will decrease by 1.5 cents per gallon on New Year’s Day, reflecting a drop in the calculated average wholesale fuel price.

The decrease would result in a loss to the Kentucky Road Fund of about $45 million on an annualized basis.

“The Road Fund is our source of revenue for building, improving and maintaining Kentucky roads and bridges, so any loss of revenue is concerning,” Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said Thursday.

The tax on motor fuels is a classic user fee, paid by those who use public highways and bridges. It has three components:

  • Variable excise tax.
  • Supplemental user fee of 5 cents per gallon
  • Underground Storage Tank cleanup fee of 1.4 cents per gallon.

There also is a federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon of gasoline.

The excise tax was enacted in 1920. But in the 1980s, the Kentucky Legislature provided for a variable excise tax as a percentage of average wholesale price (AWP) of gas and diesel.

The variable excise tax rises, falls or stays unchanged from quarter to quarter on the basis of a survey of AWP of motor fuels. The survey is conducted by the Department of Revenue in the first month of each quarter (January, April, July and October) and the change in rate – if any – takes effect on the first day of the first month of the following quarter.


For purposes of the excise tax rate, the amount of any increase in the AWP is capped at 10 percent, per year.


By virtue of the October 2013 survey, the state variable excise tax will decline by 1.5 cents per gallon on Jan. 1, 2014 – to 24.4 cents per gallon from 25.9 cents. The last decrease in the excise tax was in October 2010.


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