The New York Times
June 29, 2008
Gasoline in the United States is cheap.
Not as cheap as American drivers would like, of course. And not as cheap as it is in Venezuela and other major oil-producing countries, where it is heavily subsidized. Compared to prices in most other industrialized nations, however, the American national average of $4 a gallon is a bargain.
The chief reason for the disparity with the high-priced nations is taxation. Take away the taxes, and the remaining gas price is similar from place to place.
Americans pay, on average, 49 cents per gallon in gasoline taxes, according to the Lundberg Survey released last week. That includes federal, state and local charges.
Canadians pay more than double that amount, $1.26 per gallon. And up it goes, with the Dutch among the most taxed: They are paying $5.57 per gallon this month, according to the survey, for a total pump price of $10.05 per gallon.
Gas taxes are used to encourage conservation, to finance roads and transit, and to fill other government coffers. Higher rates tend to insulate drivers from price spikes. On a percentage basis, Europeans have had to absorb far smaller increases in gas costs than Americans in recent years. They’re used to paying double what Americans do — or more — and they live accordingly.
On Friday, the price of oil traded above $142, a new record, suggesting that more increases at the pump are coming. Here is how prices and taxes compare worldwide this month.