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U.S. Senate’s sales tax vote tied to Maryland’s gas tax

The gas price sign for the Royal Farms Store on Russell Street in Baltimore on Jan. 30, 2012. (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

If states are given more authority to collect sales tax from online purchases, the cost of a gallon of gas in Maryland won’t rise as high as state fiscal analysts have predicted.

The U.S. Senate is poised to hold a procedural vote on the Marketplace Fairness Act on Monday, legislation that would enable states to enforce the collection of sales tax from people who buy merchandise on the Internet. U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, is among the bill’s sponsors.

Maryland’s multimillion dollar plan to pay for transportation projects by increasing the gas tax would impose a 5 percent wholesale tax on fuel by 2016, unless Congress approves the online sales tax measure.

If President Barack Obama then signs the sales tax bill, Maryland’s wholesale gas tax would stay at 3 percent under the state transportation legislation. White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday that Obama backs the sales tax bill.

Without the Marketplace Fairness Act’s approval, Maryland gas prices would probably increase by 20-cents a gallon in mid-2016.