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Letter


NTU Supports Massachusetts Legislation that Simplifies Gas Tax Refund Process

September 23, 2005

The Honorable David Paul Linsky
Massachusetts House of Representatives
State House
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Representative Linsky:

On behalf of the 350,000-member National Taxpayers Union (NTU) and our 8,600 members in Massachusetts, I write to offer our strong support for your legislation, House Bill Number 2410. By simplifying the process through which Massachusetts Turnpike motorists can receive a refund for state fuel taxes, this timely legislation would help ease the burden of record-setting gas costs on drained Massachusetts drivers.

Motorists have been exempted from paying excise taxes on gas consumed on the Turnpike since the tollway's inception in 1952, as the Legislature had the good sense to realize that piling tolls on top of taxes would have been unconscionable. Current law allows a rebate of 21 cents per 15 miles driven (minus a 5 percent sales tax assessment on the gas exempted from the fuel tax), translating into an average savings of $88 for past refund-filers. This is "real money" that taxpayers would welcome, and would normally jump at the chance to claim.

Unfortunately, the arduous process for filing a refund, combined with the corrosive effect of sales taxes on the amount of the rebate, has driven many motorists away from seeking what is rightfully theirs. In addition to submitting original fuel receipts, filers must also fill out detailed forms with information including: date of fuel purchase, date of toll receipt, amount of gallons placed in vehicle, number of toll stations entered and exited, mileage on Turnpike, and gallons consumed. Furthermore, gas must be consumed within three days of purchase to qualify for a rebate. To make matters worse, the 5 percent sales tax only cuts deeper into the total refund amount as gas prices climb.

According to a recent Boston Globe article, only 357 drivers applied for the refund during the last fiscal year. With over 240,000 vehicles using the Turnpike daily, it's a shame that so many people are deterred from this rebate opportunity by bureaucratic nonsense.

Your legislation would do away with onerous requirements that consumers submit original fuel receipts while filing, and that gas be bought within three days of travel. Your anticipated efforts to amend the bill, so as to eliminate the 5 percent sales tax penalty, will make this legislation even more taxpayer-friendly. We are encouraged by your hard work to ensure that motorists are not double-taxed, and we commend you for your willingness to fight for taxpayers' rights.

Sincerely,

Kristina Rasmussen

Government Affairs Manager