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5 tax turkeys to avoid this Thanksgiving and beyond

Some Thanksgiving roadtrippers this holiday will pay higher state gas taxes

One of the advantages of traveling by car is you can stop and enjoy the scenery. Just be sure to budget enough to cover your fuel costs, which could be higher due to state gasoline taxes. (Photo by Unsplash+ in collaboration with Getty Images)

The hubby and I are Thanksgiving outliers. Our holiday spread is good ol' Texas smoked brisket and sausage and all the sides instead of turkey and all those sides. We do, however, add a pumpkin pie to the banana pudding dessert menu.

We also don't go anywhere on this holiday. One of the great homebody benefits is that we're not among the millions of Americans jostling with each other on what are among the busiest travel days of the year.

Airports across the United States tend to be the most crowded on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Turkey Day. Return trips are even worse for fliers, as they face the post-Thanksgiving Sunday rush to get home.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) said it expects to screen 2.6 million passengers on Tuesday and 2.7 million passengers on Wednesday. The TSA predicts Sunday's airport crowds will hit an estimated 2.9 million passengers, a new record.

However, most of the more than 55 million holiday travelers who are going over the river and through the woods to grandma's or some other holiday gathering locale will do so via vehicle, according to the AAA. Those 49.1 million drivers will likely find the roads most clogged today, adds the AAA.

Lower fuel prices: The good news for drivers this holiday is that pump prices generally are lower.

On Monday, Nov. 20, the retail price of regular gasoline averaged $3.29 per gallon across the United States, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). That's 10 percent less than the same time last year.

After adjusting for inflation (real terms), adds EIA, retail gasoline prices this Thanksgiving weekend are 13 percent lower than last year, but they remain higher than pre-pandemic levels for the third year.

And in some areas, automotive travelers also will find the lower fuel prices are offset by

increases in state fuel taxes and fees.

Increased fuel taxes: The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, a level that it has held since Oct. 1, 1993.

Most states, however, regularly tinker with their fuel taxes and fees. That's the pattern in 2023, with several states hiking their gas taxes in July.

The most notable are California, Maryland, and Illinois, who's now second-highest gas tax definitely will drive up Thanksgiving and other travel costs.

Georgia drivers, however, are still getting some fuel relief. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) earlier this month extended Georgia's gas tax holiday to Nov. 29.

So, just what does your state treasury collect when you fill up your car, truck, or motorcycle? The Tax Foundation map below offers a visual overview of how state fuel taxes as of July 1, 2023, compare.


If you're traveling this holiday week, regardless of your transportation mode, do so safely. And have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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Terrific insights into Thanksgiving travel trends and fuel prices! Thanksgiving at home with Texas smoked brisket sounds amazing. Appreciate your detailed updates. Safe travels and a joyous Thanksgiving! For stress-free tax filing, check out TaxZerone—an IRS-authorized e-file service provider simplifying various forms like excise, employment tax, extension, information returns, and tax-exempt forms for businesses and individuals securely. Visit www.taxzerone.com for a seamless tax experience.

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