Planning a road trip this weekend? California gas tax hike will make July 4 travel more expensive

A person places a nozzle into a car's gas tank
The cost of gas is expected to go up this weekend as many Americans plan for road trips during the Independence Day holiday.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Californians who plan road trips for the Independence Day holiday can expect to pay more at the pump, as the state gas tax increases this weekend by 4 cents to pay for roads and to adjust for inflation.

The latest increase puts the state gas tax at around 58 cents per gallon.

A decade ago, Californians were paying about 40 cents per gallon for state taxes. The price has gradually gone up over the years.


In the Los Angeles-Long Beach area, the average gas price Friday was $4.89 per gallon for regular fuel, about 3 cents cheaper than it was a week ago, according to the American Automobile Assn. This time last year, the average gas price in the area was $6.33 per gallon.

Experts say that even with the tax increase, gas prices over the holiday weekends are expected to be cheaper than last year.

“Much of Covid’s revenge travel is behind us, and thus far this summer, demand for gasoline has been softer than last year, helping to ease the pressure on gas prices,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a news release. “Coupled with an economic slowdown and rising interest rates, Americans are feeling a bit more sluggish about hitting the road again this summer, leading to the lower prices.”

AAA predicts that more than 50 million people nationwide will celebrate the Fourth of July weekend by traveling, with about 43.2 million traveling by car.

The Automobile Club of Southern California predicts that travel for the weekend will almost reach the all-time high seen in 2019. More than 3.4 million Southern Californians are expected to travel, which is about 4.4% higher than last year and 1% less than 2019.

“Gas prices are $1.30 per gallon less this year than last, but they are still high compared to historical averages,” Andrew Gross, a AAA spokesperson, said in a news release about national gas prices. “The previous record average high price for gas on July Fourth was $4.10 in 2008, while the low was $1.39 in 2001. Yet despite currently elevated prices, drivers are not cutting back on travel this summer.”


Prices at the pump are expected to continue to decline through next week if gas demand remains low and increasing supply is able to stave off any jumps in price, according to AAA.