According to an analysis of data, the nation’s second-most popular vacation destination state receives a slim majority of its gasoline tax revenue from tourists.
Florida received about 50.42 percent (more than $822 million) of its 2018 gasoline tax revenue ($1.631 billion) from out of state visitors. Last year, 126.1 million tourists visited the Sunshine State.
In comparison, Mississippi receives about 10 percent of its gasoline tax revenue (more than $423 million in 2018) from its 19,152,000 visitors.
The state of Florida’s gasoline tax varies by area and is indexed to the general rate of inflation computed by the Consumer Price Index every January. Municipalities and counties can add their own tax, up to 12 additional cents per gallon, for local infrastructure.
Alabama, which had more than 27 million visitors in 2018, receives about 16.2 percent of its gasoline tax revenue from out of state visitors. In 2018, the state received more than $477 million from its 21.21 cent per gallon gasoline tax, with more than $77 million coming from tourists visiting the state.
The Alabama legislature passed and Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a 10 cent per gallon tax increase that will bump the Yellowhammer State’s ranking from 41st to 21st, which is where Georgia sits (31.59 cents per gallon) at present. The tax hike will be phased in over the next three years.
Running the numbers for Alabama results in a same proportion of fuel tax paid by tourists (16.2 percent), but adds more than $36 million to the state’s gas tax revenues, which could increase by more than $224 million annually.
Louisiana, which had more than 51 million visitors in 2018, received about 16.5 percent of its gasoline tax revenue (more than $459 million in 2018) from out of state visitors, which adds up to more than $75 million. Louisiana’s gasoline tax is 20.01 cents per gallon.
The way we calculated the amount of gasoline tax paid by out of state visitors was based on tourism numbers from each state’s tourism agency. For overnight visitors, we used the occupancy rates at state hotels and multiplied by 365 and subtracted it from the total number of visitors.
We used an average of 24.7 miles per gallon for the average U.S. vehicle and an average round-trip distance (1,240 miles) for out-of-state travelers. We also assumed that any visitor, be they an overnight or day tripper, would buy about 35 percent of their gasoline in their destination state.