Here’s how much you could save if there is a federal gas tax pause

SPOKANE, Wash. – Everyone feels that anxiety when they watch the numbers go up while pumping gas. President Joe Biden called on Congress to suspend the federal gas tax for 90 days. Biden is also asking state leaders to suspend their gas taxes, too.

Gas is currently around $5.02 in Kootenai County. In Spokane County, it’s about $5.25 a gallon. These are hitting near record highs.

The federal gas tax is 18 cents per gallon for regular gasoline. It’s higher for diesel around 24 cents per gallon.

If Congress decides to pause the federal gas tax, that will save families a few bucks each time.

An average car’s gas tank takes 12 to 15 gallons of gas. If there is a tax pause, it’d save a person $2.20 each time they fill up. With Biden wanting it to be on pause for three months, that means it’d save a family $6.62 if they only fill up once a month.

Below is the breakdown for regular gas and diesel if there were a tax break both at the federal level and state level including Washington and Idaho.

Spokane Valley resident Karen Stevens says the gas tax breaks will save people some money, but it’s still not enough. She wants a long-term solution.

“It’s making it extremely difficult to do anything. I mean work-wise, going to work, doing anything for anybody. You either have to choose gas or something else,” she said. “It’s going to go right back to how much we’re paying now [after a few months]. I don’t think that’s really a solution.”

Ryan Herzog, an associate professor of economics at Gonzaga University, agrees. He says the federal tax break wouldn’t do much for people.

“If your solution is just inflationary, to help reduce some of that pain, it’s not going to do much because it’s going to shift spending in other areas,” he said.

Herzog said it’d be a bit of a different story if states also put a pause on the gas tax.

“It’s just a waiting game to get gas prices to come down, which probably won’t happen until fall,” he said. “You just got to be patient. There’s no magic wand you can wave to lower gas prices.”

In response to Biden asking states to also put a pause on gas taxes, below is a statement from Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s Office:

“There’s no question that rising gas prices and inflation are creating enormous financial stress for many families. The oil companies would be the ones to benefit from suspending the gas tax because it provides yet another opportunity for them to pocket more profit at the expense of our ability to put people to work fixing our roads and bridges.”

Idaho Governor Brad Little’s statement:

“Governor Little is reviewing requests to suspend the gas tax temporarily. However, this year, Governor Little and Republicans in the Idaho Legislature championed immediate and ongoing historic tax relief for working individuals and families to help offset soaring inflation and gas prices – problems created by President Joe Biden and the Democrats’ mishandling of the economy. So far, the State of Idaho has given back nearly $200 million to Idahoans in tax rebates, with an average refund of $332.

Every single Idaho Democrat legislator voted against the ongoing tax cuts and immediate tax rebates just a few months ago. Governor Little clearly stated last month he plans to cut taxes even further with the state’s budget surplus to build on three straight years of unprecedented tax relief for Idahoans.”

4 News Now also reached out to the Congress members, which Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) sent a statement:

“A federal gas tax delay proposal is simply another ineffective political band-aid from President Biden that would do little to lower unaffordable costs every family is paying at the gas pump to the grocery store. It would also divert funds away from critical infrastructure projects in Eastern Washington, forcing people to drive on unsafe, potholed roads to get the gas they can’t afford. It’s time to face reality, stop offering gimmicks, and stop blaming Putin. President Biden needs to flip the switch on American energy and take immediate action to restore our energy dominance here at home.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA):

“Skyrocketing gas prices are burdening every American household and business. I will consider any proposal and how it might effectively lower the price consumers are paying at the pump.”

Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID):

“A gas tax holiday is a political gimmick that would do little to nothing to stop skyrocketing gas prices or inflation. This ineffective stunt would offer little to no relief at the pump, threaten critical infrastructure investments and potentially worsen our country’s debt situation.”

4 News Now also reached out to Rep. Russ Fulcher (R-ID), Sen. James Risch (R-ID) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) for comment but did not hear back.

READ: EXPLAINER: How Biden’s proposed gas tax holiday would work