Gas taxes driving motorists to U.S.

Taxpayers group cites huge drain on the economy as drivers seek deals

Like a lot of us, Gordie Panovic of Surrey didn't know exactly how much of his gas bill goes to taxes.

But when he arrived at the Super Save gas station on Kingsway in Burnaby on Thursday, Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation was there - with a posse of media in tow - to give him the bad news that Lower Mainland drivers pay the second-highest gas tax in North America.

The 49 cents of taxes per litre of gas on Panovic's fill-up is one cent less per litre than in Montreal, which recently increased its taxes.

But even more painfully, the taxes are why gas is 34-cents cheaper per litre in Washington state than in the Lower Mainland and it's one of the reasons, Bateman believes, that Canadians are making so many trips south of the border.

"We are all over-stretched with all these taxes, never mind the gas tax," said Panovic.

Bateman made the sudden media exposure a little less painful for Panovic by refunding him the tax, $13.23 on the 27 litres of fuel he bought.

Although his gasoline prices were a few days behind the current near-record high being experienced by Greater Vancouver drivers, Bateman's point was that it was the tax that made Canadian gas so much more expensive than the Washington state product.

Changing gallons into litres and U.S. currency into Canadian, unleaded gas in Blaine, Wash., goes for 95 cents a litre compared with 98.9 in the Lower Mainland, 96.9 in Victoria and about 94.9 cents in the rest of B.C, said Bateman.

But the gas tax in Blaine is only 15 cents a litre, compared with 49 cents in the Lower Mainland, 41 cents in Victoria and 37 cents in places like Kamloops.

Bateman said there were 15.4 million trips last year by Canadians into Whatcom County - the most since 1997 - and that total doesn't count Point Roberts or any of the crossings east of Abbotsford.

Filling up with 50 litres of gas in Blaine could save a driver $19 compared with buying the fuel in Canada. "Gas taxes are literally driving you south of the border," said Bateman, who called the situation "a huge drain on the economy," because it's usually more than gas that is bought.

Read more: