Image: Mostly true

Statement: “Actually, the (tax) that you pay is small compared to what you pay total for gas. That is, it’s 10 percent,” said state Sen. Juan Vargas in a recent Univision interview.

Determination: Mostly True

Analysis: State Sen. Juan Vargas recently called for an investigation into the state’s record-high gas prices. In a related Oct. 9 interview on Univision 17, Vargas said taxes on gas are minimal compared with the average total ticket price for unleaded gas, which hit a startling $4.73 in San Diego earlier this month. Vargas was speaking in Spanish during the interview. The statement we’re examining — “Realmente, los impuestos que pagan es poco en comparacion de cuanto pagan por el gas. Es decir, es el diez por ciento” — is a translation.

Vargas, who is also running for the 51st District congressional seat, suggested 10 percent of the bill goes to government coffers.

We decided to take a closer look given the recent concerns about skyrocketing gas prices.

San Diego County motorists pay about 69 cents in taxes for each gallon of gas at the current rate, and 54 cents in taxes for diesel.

The majority – about 56 cents per gallon of gas or 36 cents per gallon of diesel – goes to the state and federal governments, according to the state Board of Equalization.

In most parts of San Diego County, drivers pay a 2.75 percent sales tax on each gallon of fuel. Some cities in the county, including Vista and El Cajon, tax gas at higher rates.

That means the average San Diegan pays about $13.80 in taxes to fill up a 20-gallon tank or $9.60 for the same amount of diesel.

So how does that compare to Vargas’ assessment on Univision?

He’s not far off.

On Tuesday, the average gas price in San Diego was $4.62 a gallon while diesel drivers paid about $4.50 a gallon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Some quick math shows San Diegans pay 14.9 percent in taxes for a gallon of unleaded gas and 10.7 percent for a gallon of diesel.

That said, we’re giving Vargas a “mostly true” rating. He’s close but not spot on.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Lisa Halverstadt is the newest reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at or 619.325.0528.

Disclosure: Voice of San Diego members and supporters may be mentioned or have a stake in the stories we cover. For a complete list of our contributors, click here.

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Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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