An analysis of data by the Mississippi Center for Public Policy shows that a 15 cent gasoline tax increase would add up to about $123 annually per vehicle and a 20 cent per gallon tax hike would average about $180 annually per vehicle. 

For a family with two cars, that would be in the $250-$350 range each year.

When tallying up the cost of a potential gasoline tax increase on a family of four, the price would be much higher a month than the $6.67 increase cited by former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. 

His tax swap plan involving a state income tax bracket and the gasoline tax also would be only a tax increase on 42.8 percent of the state’s population who aren’t part of the state’s workforce.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the cost of a gasoline tax increase for a family of four would add up to about $500 per year, but achieving that figure would require three gas-guzzling trucks or heavy SUVs driving about 20,000 miles per year apiece and a gasoline tax of 15 to 20 cents more per gallon.

To calculate the average impact on a Mississippi driver annually, we used the top-selling vehicles in the state from both this year and a decade ago that included:

  • 2019 Ford F-150.
  • 2019 Nissan Altima.
  • 2019 Toyota Camry.
  • 2019 Honda Civic.
  • 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.
  • 2019 Chevrolet Tahoe.
  • 2009 Ford F-150.
  • 2009 Honda Accord.
  • 2009 Honda Civic.

Then we calculated how many miles the average Mississippian drives per year. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, drivers in Mississippi traveled 40,877 million miles in 2017, ranking 28thnationally. Divide that by three million (the state’s population) and the average driver in the state drives about 13,625 miles per year. 

We also ran the numbers using 10,000 annual miles traveled per vehicle and 20,000 to see how much of a difference that makes.

Each vehicle’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rating for miles per gallon was used to calculate the average MPG that a Mississippi owner of that vehicle might face. 

The figure for MPG wasn’t the overall MPG, but an adjusted total that takes into account the amount of rural roads and highways with higher speed limits (84 percent of Mississippi roads are the responsibility of counties and the Mississippi Department of Transportation) and thus higher gas mileage. 

VehicleMS MPG adjustmentAverage gasoline price with 15 cent gas tax increaseFuel per year with VMT of 10,000 Fuel cost increase per year Fuel per year with VMT of 13,625 (state average)  Fuel cost increase per yearFuel per year with VMT of 20,000 Fuel cost increase per year
2019 Ford F-150 3.5L EcoBoost21.025 $         2.38  $      1,132.46  $          71.34  $  1,542.98  $    97.21  $ 2,264.92  $    142.69 
2019 Ford F-150 2.7L EcoBoost20.184 $         2.38  $      1,179.65  $          74.32  $  1,607.27  $ 101.26  $ 2,359.29  $    148.63 
2019 Ford F-150 5.0L V-819.343 $         2.38  $      1,230.94  $          77.55  $  1,677.15  $ 105.66  $ 2,461.87  $    155.09 
2019 Nissan Altima32.799 $         2.38  $          725.94  $          45.73  $      989.09  $    62.31  $ 1,451.87  $       91.47 
2019 Toyota Camry34.481 $         2.38  $          690.53  $          43.50  $      940.84  $    59.27  $ 1,381.05  $       87.00 
2019 Chevrolet Tahoe17.661 $         2.38  $      1,348.17  $          84.93  $  1,836.88  $ 115.72  $ 2,696.34  $    169.87 
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 5.3L V-818.502 $         2.38  $      1,286.89  $          81.07  $  1,753.38  $ 110.46  $ 2,573.78  $    162.14 
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 6.2L V-816.82 $         2.38  $      1,415.58  $          89.18  $  1,928.72  $ 121.51  $ 2,831.15  $    178.36 
2019 Honda Civic35.322 $         2.38  $          674.08  $          42.47  $      918.44  $    57.86  $ 1,348.17  $       84.93 
2009 F-150 4.6 V-815.138 $         2.38  $      1,572.86  $          99.09  $  2,143.03  $ 135.01  $ 3,145.73  $    198.18 
2009 Honda Accord25.23 $         2.38  $          943.72  $          59.45  $  1,285.82  $    81.00  $ 1,887.44  $    118.91 
2009 Honda Civic30.276 $         2.38  $          786.43  $          49.54  $  1,071.51  $    67.50  $ 1,572.86  $       99.09 
 Average   $      1,082.27  $          68.18  $  1,474.59  $    92.90  $ 2,164.54  $    136.36 

An owner of a Ford F-150 equipped with four wheel drive and the 3.5 liter turbocharged V-6 and driving 20,000 miles per year would pay $142 more per year and $11.83 more per month if the gasoline tax was increased by 15 cents per gallon.

The owner of a Nissan Altima that gets considerably better gas mileage (32.7999 miles per gallon) and drives 20,000 miles per year would still be higher than Waller’s stated figure at $7.60 per month and $91.47 per year with a 15 cent gas tax hike. 

Jacking up the gasoline tax to 20 cents per gallon would add up to $189 per year and $15.75 per month for the owner of the F-150 who drives 20,000 miles per year, while the Altima owner would pay $10.08 per month and $121 additionally per year.

Using the state Department of Revenue’s numbers on petroleum taxes, each one cent increase in the state’s gasoline tax would add up to about $23 million in additional revenue for the state’s highway fund, which is used for state-maintained roads only.

No tax swap for 42.8 percent of state’s population

Waller says eliminating the four percent income tax bracket and exchanging this for a gas tax hike would not be a tax increase. The problem is two-fold for this viewpoint.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the workforce participation rate in Mississippi is 57.2 percent, versus 63 percent nationally. Also, 15.9 percent of the state’s population is age 65 or older. 

This means 42.8 percent of the state’s population is not in the workforce and wouldn’t be subject to income tax, which exempts the first $2,000 of taxable income and taxes the next $3,000 at three percent, the next $5,000 at four percent and all taxable income more than $10,000 is taxed at a five percent rate. 

The state also doesn’t levy an income tax on retirement income, pensions and annuities, so that eliminates any tax relief for those age 65 or older.