In 1923, Idaho instituted its first tax on gasoline. The Legislature that year tacked two cents onto each gallon of gas for road building and repair. Gas cost about 22 cents a gallon. Automobile owners were generally supportive of the effort.
Today, Idaho’s state gasoline tax is 33 cents per gallon, so it has obviously gone up. But factor in inflation. That two cents from 1923 would have 31 cents of buying power today. So, it’s about the same.
The two-cent tax became a three-cent tax in 1925, a four-cent tax in 1927, and a nickel in 1929. The state was a in a road-building frenzy. The tax remained the same until 1945 when it went to 6 cents. It hung around in that neighborhood for 23 years, going to seven cents in 1968. Four years later the tax went to 8.5 cents a gallon. In 1976 it hit 9.5 cents. In 1981, the Legislature moved it to 11.5 cents. That was so much fun that they raised it an additional penny the next year. Giddy with that accomplishment, lawmakers moved it two cents in 1983 to 14.5 cents per gallon. It stayed there until 1988 when it jumped to 18 cents. In 1991 the tax moved 21 cents.
Are you seeing a pattern here?
The first time Idahoans started paying a quarter in tax for every gallon of gas was in 1996. That was more than a gallon of gas cost back in 1923 when the whole thing started. In 2015 the state gasoline tax went to 33 cents per gallon (effective in 2017), which is where it is today.
It was also in 2015 that the Legislature took notice of scoundrels like me who don’t pay any gasoline tax because we don’t buy any gasoline. They added $140 to annual registration fees for electric vehicles.
Are roads better today than they were in 1923 when all this began? Considerably. They’re also a lot more expensive to build and maintain, so look for future gas tax increases or some other method to help pay for them from some future Legislature.