North Carolina drivers scarcely noticed when the state gas tax rose on July 1 by one-tenth of a penny per gallon. So they might not notice when the tax falls again in September to its June level.
The comprehensive tax overhaul legislation zooming through the General Assembly this week, which will have a big impact on income taxes, also includes a provision to reduce and freeze the gas tax, now 37.6 cents per gallon: It would be capped at 37.5 cents for almost two years -- from Sept. 1, 2013, through June 30, 2015.
Under state law, the fuel tax rate is adjusted every January and July to reflect recent ups and downs in wholesale fuel prices. The new tax law employs an occasional legislative tool -- putting a cap to prevent it from rising higher, without changing the formula used to calculate the tax.
Meanwhile, drivers are noticing sharp increases in the prices they're paying for gas. Triangle average prices for self-service regular have risen 12 cents in the past week, to $3.538 per gallon as of Wednesday, according to the Oil Price Information Service.