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It's not often government implements a tax, then gives you a loophole to avoid paying it.

But that's exactly what the Missouri Legislature did when crafting compromises to get the state's new gas tax legislation approved.

As we recently reported, the tax 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.

A provision in the law allows Missouri drivers to request an exemption and refund next fiscal year. To do this, you must show what you paid in fuel tax.

Drivers must 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, and the number of gallons purchased and charged Missouri fuel tax as a separate item.

Motorists can't file for refunds until next July, when the Department of Revenue will have refund claim forms online.

The tax took effect Friday, so you can start saving your receipts now.

The ability to get a refund is actually an ingenious way to essentially tax out-of-state residents and Missourians who can afford it.

Here's why: It's estimated that close to 40 percent of the traffic on Missouri roads is from out-of-state motorists. But the vast majority of them won't seek refunds.

As for Missourians, whether you seek a refund might depend on which you can most spare: time or money. If you're a high-wage earner who works long hours, it's likely not going to be worth your while. But if you're pinching pennies, it will be a fairly easy way to get a few bucks back.

Even if it's not worth your time now, it might be later as more tax gets implemented each year.

Make no mistake: Missouri needs the potential $450 million a year for transportation funding. But the refund option will help Missourians who are struggling to make ends meet.

News Tribune

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