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Major State Aids & Taxes: Motor Fuels Tax (Gas Tax)

Program Description

The motor fuels tax is imposed on gasoline, diesel fuel, and other motor fuels used by vehicles on public highways. Aviation fuel purchased, stored, or withdrawn from storage in Minnesota is also subject to the tax. The rate on highway motor fuels1 is 28.5 cents per gallon.

1 Alternative fuels, such as liquefied natural gas and high-alcohol gasoline, are taxed at rates proportional to relative energy content.


Tax Amount and Reporting

Calendar Year 2013 Motor Fuels Tax: $869.1 million

The total net amount after refunds of the motor fuels tax for calendar year 2013 was $869.1 million. This is the gross amount before distributions (based on motor fuel use attributed to nonhighway use) to snowmobile, motorboat, forest roads, and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) accounts.2

The motor fuels tax goes into the Highway User Tax Distribution Fund and is dedicated for highway use.

Like both the motor vehicle excise tax and the motor vehicle registration tax, the amount of motor fuels tax paid by taxpayers in each county is unknown. For purposes of this report, an estimate was made for each county based upon the total number of vehicle miles traveled in each county in 2013 as a proportion of the total vehicle miles traveled within the state in 2013.

The statewide motor fuels tax amount and data on vehicle miles traveled was obtained from the Department of Transportation.

2 Previous years' reports indicated that the total was the net after distributions, but the reporting changed several years ago so the amount shown was actually the gross.

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Recent Law Changes

The 2008 transportation finance act provided for a phased-in increase in the motor fuels tax. The tax increased by 2 cents to 22 cents per gallon on April 1, 2008, and the rate is further phased in over the ensuing years to 28.5 cents per gallon by July 1, 2012. In 2009 only, low-income individuals were eligible to claim a refundable income tax credit of $25 to offset the motor fuels tax increase. The credit was repealed in 2010.

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Per Capita Maps

Map of motor fuels tax per capita by county Map of motor fuels tax per capita by economic development region

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The Past Five Years of Motor Fuels Tax

The table below shows the distribution of motor fuels tax in thousands of dollars for the past five years for the state and economic development regions. The graph shows total dollars of motor fuels tax for that same time period in nominal (actual) and constant (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

Motor Fuels Tax: Calendar Years 2009 to 2013
Nominal dollars, in thousands
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 5-Yr. Chg. Aid
State $798,269 $844,438 $846,661 $852,267 $869,101 9%

Northern Regions
Northwest (1)
Headwaters (2)
Arrowhead (3)
West Central (4)
Five (5)
East Central (7E)
15,308
12,803
53,999
41,987
31,363
32,734
16,400
13,836
57,754
45,391
33,026
34,301
16,575
13,834
57,083
46,047
32,769
34,874
16,622
13,884
56,503
46,642
32,699
33,952
17,109
14,172
57,646
47,817
33,381
34,478
12
11
7
14
6
5

Southern Regions
Six East (6E)
Upper MN Valley (6W)
Central MN (7W)
Southwest (8)
Nine (9)
Southeastern MN (10)
18,446
8,425
67,556
22,840
36,746
79,204
19,738
8,982
70,097
24,826
39,235
84,982
19,990
8,971
70,153
25,036
39,161
84,838
19,979
9,001
70,408
25,255
39,343
85,226
20,310
9,264
71,223
26,004
40,163
87,760
10
10
5
14
9
11
Total Nonmetro $421,409 $448,568 $449,330 $449,513 $459,328 9%

Metro Region
Hennepin County
Ramsey County
Remaining Metro
155,515
63,896
157,448
163,063
67,155
165,652
163,485
67,210
166,636
167,434
67,950
167,369
169,819
68,940
171,014
9
8
9
Total Metro $376,859 $395,870 $397,331 $402,753 $409,773 9%

Statewide Motor Fuels Tax

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March 2017

House Research Department  ♦  600 State Office Building, Saint Paul, MN  55155  ♦  House.Research@house.mn  ♦  651-296-6753