The price of gasoline and diesel has skyrocketed in recent weeks. Every Thursday we get a new European Commission report in which the average prices of each country are collected weekly. The one we are experiencing could be the third consecutive week in which record highs are set. But, of what we pay for fuel, how much correspond to taxes and how are they distributed?
In addition to the weekly reports, the European Commission also publishes an interesting map that shows the average prices of gasoline and diesel in each country and the taxes that are applied to them in each region. Spain is in the lower part of the table, although it was not always so.
How are fuel prices distributed?
The latest European report we have indicates that Spain pays, on average, 1.59 euros/litre of gasoline and 1.48 euros/liter of diesel. Of this figure, 47% and 43% of the taxes, respectively, are allocated to taxes which, in turn, are divided into three different concepts.
The first of these, invariably, is VAT. Except in the Canary Islands, 21% of the price of fuel in our country is used for this direct purchase tax. The Special Tax on Hydrocarbons does vary its percentage depending on the price of fuel, since its calculation is carried out differently.
Until 2019, the Special Tax on Hydrocarbons had three sections: General, Special and Autonomous. With the latest reform, this tax has come to group the money collected into two sections: General and Special. The disappearance of the Autonomous section was not such, since the Autonomous Communities could apply a section of between 0 and 4.8 cents/litre. To this rate it was necessary to add the 2.4 linear cents applied by the State.
Finally, in the 2018 budgets, it was decided to apply a single special tax that included both sections, opting for the largest possible amount. In this way, in all the Autonomous Communities a tax of 7.2 cents/liter was paid each time the tank was refilled.
This amount is the same for gasoline and diesel and has not changed since then. Nor the General section that since the same year has been frozen with the following prices:
- Unleaded gasoline 98: 431.92 euros/1000 liters or 0.432 euros/litre.
- Unleaded gasoline 95: 400.69 euros/1000 liters or 0.401 euros/liter
- Diesel: 307 euros/1000 liters or 0.307 euros/litre.
In summary, for each liter of fuel that we buy, 21% of it corresponds to VAT and in unleaded gasoline 98 we pay 0.504 euros/liter for the Special Tax on Hydrocarbons. For unleaded gasoline 95 this rate is 0.473 euros/litre and for diesel it is 0.379 euros/litre.
Among the lowest in Europe
This way of calculating the taxes to be paid on fuel has led Spain to position itself in the bottom of the european table as far as taxes on fuels are concerned.
Keep in mind that the higher the price of fuel, the lower the weight that taxes will have on it. VAT at 21% always remains unchanged but with a fixed price for the Special Tax on Hydrocarbons, its presence will decrease.
At the moment, Spain levies a 47% tax on gasoline and 43% on diesel. Or what is the same, we pay 5% less in taxes for gasoline than the European average (52%) and 3% less if we talk about diesel (46%). Diesel is in the lowest section collected by the European Union and gasoline in the second.
This same trend of between three and four percentage points of difference between both fuels is maintained throughout Europe, except for the Netherlands (diesel is taxed with a difference of 1% below gasoline). The case of Sweden is also striking, the only European country where diesel is more expensive than gasoline, with a price of 2.03 euros/liter of diesel for 1.84 euros/liter of gasoline.
Lower weight but higher collection (per liter)
Also striking are changes in the weight of taxes since 2019, the year in which the reform of the Special Tax on Hydrocarbons was carried out. Between the last report of 2018 and the first of 2019, taxes increased by an average of 2% in our country. Since then, the weight of taxes has fallen from 57% of gasoline to the current 47% (image above). And from 51% of diesel to 43% today.
In spite of everything, although the Special Tax on Hydrocarbons has been maintained and the weight of the rates has decreased, the VAT has offset the collection of taxes per liter. Thus, in the first week of January 2019, 0.67 cents/liter were paid for gasoline (at 1.18 euros/liter), while diesel collected 0.58 cents/liter (at 1.13 euros/liter ).
With the latest prices of the European Union, with each liter of gasoline (at 1.59 euros/litre) 75 cents are being collected in our country, while with each liter of diesel (at 1.48 euros/litre) 64 cents are paid.
Photo | Daniel Gonzalez/GTRES
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism