Fuel taxes in Australia
The main fuel tax in Australia is an excise tax, to which is added a Goods and Services Tax ("GST"). Both taxes are levied by the federal government. In Australia, like Canada, the GST (in Australia's case of 10%) is applied on top of the fuel excise tax. In some cases, businesses may be entitled to exemptions or rebates for fuel excise tax, including tax credits and certain excise-free fuel sources.
The double dipping (i.e., GST imposed on the excise tax) was fully compensated for by lowering the excise at the time the GST was introduced in 2001 but is still used by motoring groups to convince motorists they are being ripped off. The excise stopped being indexed for inflation in 2001 (see History below) so that the effective rate of the excise has been reducing and is now about 22% lower in 2011 dollars. The tax collected is partly used to fund national road infrastructure projects and repair roads, however most of it (approximately 75%) goes into general revenue.
Excise tax rates
The excise tax on commonly used fuels in Australia as of June 2006, which applied until 10 November 2014, was as follows:
- A$0.38143 per litre on unleaded petrol fuel (including standard, blended (E10) and premium grades)
- A$0.38143/0.40143 per litre on diesel fuel (ultra-low sulphur/conventional)
- A$0.05 per litre on liquified petroleum gas used as fuel (autogas or LPG as it is commonly known in Australia) till 30/06/2014. Increments of 2.5 cpl is applicable every financial year till July 2015 where the total excise will be A$0.125 per litre.
- A$0.38143 per litre on ethanol fuel (which can be reduced/removed with grants)
- A$0.38143 per litre on biodiesel (which can be reduced/removed with grants)
Note: Gasoline for use as fuel in an aircraft is taxed at $0.08869 per litre.
The federal government increased the fuel excise tax with effect from 10 November 2014 by restoring CPI indexation to the tax every six months, on 1 February and 1 August. From that date the fuel excise tax increased to 38.6 cents per litre.
There are also a number of various grants and incentive schemes involving tax credits and rebates that generally apply to businesses or industries that rely heavily on the use of fuels, such as transport and aviation. There are also rebates that encourage the production and importation of clean fuels.
The Commonwealth introduced a twice yearly indexation for CPI of fuel excise taxes in 1983. The states used to levy fuel franchise fees until the High Court of Australia in Ha v New South Wales (1997) ruled that a licence fee based on the value of tobacco was unconstitutional as an excise tax which only the Commonwealth can levy. The ruling brought into doubt the revenues of the States. In consequence, the federal government introduced a fuel excise tax and gave the revenue to the states.
The second phase of the Australian Fuel Tax Credits Scheme came into effect on 1 July 2008. Under these changes, all off-road business use of fuel became eligible for subsidies. In other words, businesses that do not run large vehicle fleets but consume large amounts of fuel in business processes (e.g. manufacturing, construction, plant operations) became eligible for a fuel tax credit.
Queensland used to provide an 8.354c/litre subsidy on most fuels sold in the state, including on unleaded, blended unleaded, LPG and ethanol. The subsidy reflected the lower franchise fee Queensland charged compared to other states prior to 1997. This was usually reflected by an 8.354c/litre price difference at the pump, as the subsidy was paid directly to retailers. This subsidy was removed from 1 July 2009.
The indexation of the fuel excise tax was reintroduced by the Abbott Government from 10 November 2014, with indexation being effected twice a year, on 1 February and 1 August.
- "Raise highway spend from fuel tax: NRMA". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2010-01-02.
- "Excise Tariff Working Pages". ATO. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
- ATO - Fel Schemes
- Ireland, Ian (2001-06-04). "Excise Tariff Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2001". Bills Digest No. 142 2000-01. Department of the Parliamentary Library. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- "Fuel Subsidy Scheme". Queensland Treasury. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2009-10-01.