CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Motorists will pay an additional penny for a gallon of gasoline in West Virginia, beginning Wednesday.The 1-cent increase to 54.1 cents per gallon is one of several tax changes that go into effect at the start of the new year, the Charleston Daily Mail reported.The gas tax increase is due to the state Tax Department's annual recalculation of the average wholesale gas price. The variable tax is one of the gas tax's three components. The tax also includes a flat state tax of 20.5 cents per gallon and a flat federal tax of 18.4 cents per gallon.Tax officials determined in November that the new state average wholesale gas price was $3.042 a gallon, compared to the 2013 rate of $2.831 a gallon.
"I'd like for the gas tax to be down, but we also need money for highways,'' Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, told the newspaper. "This is the most reasonable manner to go in.''Vineyard said the variable tax rate helps state road funding keep pace with inflation.The method for calculating tax rates for alternative fuels, such as natural gas and propane, also is changing.A bill passed this year by the Legislature requires the Tax Department to calculate tax rates for these alternative fuels by their gasoline gallon equivalent measurements. The variable rates will be 30.4 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of compressed natural gas, 2.5 cents per gallon of liquefied natural gas and 6.2 cents per gallon of propane.Changing the calculation for propane will decrease that tax from 14.2 cents to 6.2 cents a gallon. Propane previously was taxed the same as regular gas.Two business taxes will decline as part of a multi-year plan established during Gov. Joe Manchin's administration to reduce business tax rates.The corporate income tax will drop to 6.5 percent on Wednesday, while the business franchise tax will drop to 0.1 percent. The corporate income tax reduction is the last under the plan. The business franchise tax is set to be phased out in 2015.Another change effective Wednesday involves online retail sales. The state will officially require any online retailer with a physical presence in the state to charge sales taxes for Internet-based transactions, including online purchases from Amazon, Walmart, Target and Cabella's.Most retailers have been charging the tax for some time. Amazon began charging the tax this fall.