The gas prices are on the rise again and they have even topped $4 a gallon in Southern California for the first time since 2015. Some of the causes of the increase in gas prices have been refinery problems, the switch to summer blend of gas, and the several taxes on gas. However, one thing remains a constant issue, the “mystery surcharge” that California motorists pay. According to the California Energy Commission, here are the accounted for gasoline taxes rounded to the nearest penny as of March that Californians pay: a federal excise tax of 18 cents, a state excise tax of 42 cents, a state and local sales tax of 8 cents, a state underground storage tank fee of 2 cents, and 28 cents for additional costs for compliance under Cap & Trade and the Low Carbon Fuels Standard. The total comes out to 98 cents a gallon for the gasoline taxes that are identifiable, but Californian motorists have also been paying a mystery surcharge of about 28 per cents a gallon from January through March of this year.
The mystery surcharge brings the total amount of taxes paid by Californian motorists to $1.26 a gallon. According to UC Berkeley professor Severin Borenstein, who is faculty director of the Energy Institute at Haas, 19 legislators sent a letter to the California Attorney General’s Office in January saying to investigate the mystery surcharge, but they never received a reply. Borenstein previously served as chairman of the state Petroleum Market Advisory Committee, which was formed by the California Energy Commission to look into price spikes. Borenstein claims that the committee spent two years trying to find out what the mystery surcharge was, but they couldn’t get enough information. He believes that money is going to companies somewhere in the supply chain and that the surcharge is costing California drivers $4 billion a year, or $11 million a day. Hopefully the mystery surcharge will be solved one day so that Californians will know why they are paying more for gasoline than the rest of the United States.