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Don't want to pay the new 2.5 cent-per-gallon gas tax that begins Friday? There is a way to avoid it.

A provision in the law allows Missouri drivers to request an exemption and refund next fiscal year.

The tax, which was signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson in July, raises the price Missouri drivers pay on gasoline by an additional 2.5 cents per gallon every year until 2025, for a total of 12.5 cents per gallon.

According to the legislation, Missourians seeking an exemption and refund for the fuel tax are required to provide the Missouri Department of Revenue a statement — with written verification the claim is made under the penalty of perjury — exacting the total amount of fuel tax paid in the applicable fiscal year for each vehicle covered.

Each refund claim requires the Missouri driver to provide:

- The vehicle identification number of the vehicle the fuel was delivered to;

- The date of sale;

- Names and addresses of the purchaser and seller;

- The number of gallons purchased;

- The number of gallons purchased and charged Missouri fuel tax as a separate item.

Anne Marie Moy, Department of Revenue director of strategy and communications, said the department will have a refund claim form available on its website before July 1, 2022, which is the earliest motorists can file a refund claim.

Missourians can complete the form and send any additional required documentation to the department between July 1 and Sept. 30, the first three months of a new fiscal year.

Moy said DOR is also developing an online system so Missourians can electronically file a claim.

The requirements for businesses looking to receive an exemption and refund are the same requirements for individuals, Moy said, and the department hasn't determined any potential difference in participation between the two.

To handle the influx of refund requests spurred by the new fuel tax, Moy said the department will hire temporary employees each year from July 1 to Sept. 30.

The legislation creating the tax provides the Department of Revenue authority to investigate claims before and after an exemption and refund has been granted.

Claims must be filed by the customer that purchased the fuel, Moy said, and records of each purchase must be maintained by the customer for up to three years for department inspection.

Purchase records could include invoices, original sales receipts marked paid by the seller, bills of lading or other pertinent records.

The legislation also grants the DOR Director Ken Zellers the ability to promulgate rules or regulations necessary to implement the refund, but Moy said the department doesn't currently have any plans to promulgate new rules.

Revenue from the new gas tax will be split between the Missouri Department of Transportation and local governments.

Parson said the new gas tax has the potential to raise more than $450 million in transportation funding while in full effect — roughly $330 million would go to MoDOT's State Road Fund each year and about $125 million would go directly to cities and counties for local transportation projects.

The state's fuel tax was last raised in 1992. Broken up into three increments two years apart, it raised the tax by a total of six cents per gallon.

MoDOT Director Patrick McKenna said there have been some additional funding measures put in place since then, like the vehicle sales tax in 2004, but the base revenue for the department hasn't been changed in 25 years.

The cost and volume of Missouri's transportation needs, meanwhile, has been rising.

Because of rising material and equipment costs, McKenna said, the department's purchasing power has been reduced to under 50 percent of what it used to be in the mid-1990s.

The state also has roughly $1 billion in unfunded transportation needs each year, and while 90 percent of roadways are in good condition, McKenna said there's a significant deficit for addressing bridge conditions.

"This is an overdue proposal," he said. "We're really pleased that the policymakers recognize the urgent need for upgrading our transportation infrastructure and keeping what has already been built over the last 100 years in a state of good repair so that it's safe and efficient for the citizens who count on it and use it everyday."

McKenna said he doesn't know what the impact of the refund option will be, but the department will be monitoring it over the next few years.

 

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