Illinois Motor Fuel Tax: Know the Facts

Illinois’ motor fuel tax on gasoline is 19 cents per gallon and hasn’t been raised since 1990. All revenue from the tax goes to the Motor Fuel Tax Fund. In Fiscal Year 2017, $1.35 billion in State revenue was collected (approximately the same amount as was raised in FY16).   

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently proposed raising the gas tax by 20 to 30 cents per gallon to fund a new Capital program and infrastructure improvements. That would more than double the current 19 cents per gallon State gas tax.

Illinois Department of Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn has also called for an increase in the State gas tax by at least 15 cents per gallon.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker on December 12 did not dismiss the possibility of a gas tax hike to help pay for rebuilding the state’s infrastructure, but he also cautioned that a major construction program won’t come quickly when his administration begins in January.

Pritzker also said a capital program and money to pay for it isn’t something the lame-duck legislature should pursue when it returns to Springfield on January 7.

Distributions from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund go to various transportation-related expenses. Most of the revenue is divided between the State and local governments.

45.6% is apportioned as follows:

• 37% to the State Construction Account Fund
• 63% to the Road Fund

54.4% is apportioned as follows:

• 49.10% to municipalities, distributed by population
• 16.74% to Cook County
• 18.27% to the other 101 counties based on motor vehicle license fees collected from each county
• 15.89% to townships and road districts, distributed among counties in proportion to township and road district mileage and redistributed within each county in proportion to road mileage in each township or road district

In addition to the 19 cents/gallon gas tax, all revenue from the tax of 0.3 cents/gallon and the fee of 0.8 cents/gallon for underground storage tank cleanup goes to the Underground Storage Tank Fund.

The Federal taxes on motor fuel are 18.4 cents/gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents/gallon on diesel fuel. Home-rule units of local government may also tax motor fuels.

Illinois is among eight states that impose general sales taxes on motor fuel sales, at a rate of 6.25% of the purchase price. The State keeps the part equal to 5% of the purchase price and pays the remaining 1.25% to local governments.