Priciest places to smoke and drive
Cigarette and gasoline taxes in Rhode Island and Washington St. rank among the highest nationwide this year.
By David Ellis, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- If you puff on Marlboros or drive a gas-hungry SUV in Rhode Island or Washington State, you should be feeling a consumption-tax pinch.

According to a survey published Tuesday by the tax services firm CCH, Rhode Island and Washington are among the most heavily taxed states when it comes to cigarettes and gasoline.

Top 5: Cigarette taxes by state
State Tax (per pack of 20 cigarettes)
Rhode Island $2.46
New Jersey $2.40
Washington $2.025
Maine $2
Alaska $1.80
Source:CCH as of July 1, 2006
Top 5: Gas taxes by state
State Tax (per gallon of gasoline)
Washington 34 cents
Pennsylvania 31.2 cents
Wisconsin 30.9 cents
Rhode Island 30 cents
North Carolina 29.9 cents
Source:CCH as of July 1, 2006

Assessing state gasoline and cigarette taxes as of July 1, the annual survey reveals that some states really stick it to their residents.

In Rhode Island, consumers pay a 30-cent per gallon gasoline tax and $2.46 per pack cigarette tax, the highest in the country.

In Washington State, smokers pay an additional $2.025 for each pack of cigarettes, and drivers have to cough up an additional 34 cents for every gallon of gas, making it the highest state gasoline tax nationwide.

That's a far cry from Georgia, which only levies an 7.5 cent tax at the pump, or South Carolina which adds a mere 7-cents to cigarettes.

"Each state has its individual reasons for setting rates, but when you look at the rates across the country, it's hard to make reason out of how states choose their consumption taxes," said Schibley. "For example, this year, we saw three states lower taxes on gas, while eight increased gas taxes."

New Jersey and Maine also sticks it to resident smokers, charging an additional $2.40 and $2 per pack respectively.

Pennsylvania ranked as the second-highest state when it comes to gasoline taxes, charging 31.2 cents per gallon, while Wisconsin followed close behind, charging 30.9 cents.

At the same time, CCH notes that those states that charge lower gasoline and cigarette taxes may seem cheap comparatively, but that can quickly change after you factor in city and county taxes.

In Hawaii, for example, drivers pay a 16-cent per gallon gasoline tax. But that number can more than double after drivers take county taxes into account.

Alaska and New York boast some of the lowest gasoline taxes, each charging 8 cents per gallon, while Missouri and Mississippi assess some of the lowest cigarette taxes nationwide, charging 17 cents and 18 cents per pack respectively.


Related: How the new tax law affects you.

Related:IRS: e-mail tax scams on the rise. Top of page

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