JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Drivers in Missouri are going to pay more for gas starting Friday but there’s a way around the tax increase if you keep your receipts.
It’s been more than 20 years since the Show Me State saw a gas tax increase after voters failed to pass previous hikes on the ballot in 2014 and 2018. Currently, Missouri has the third-lowest gas tax in the nation. The state’s last gas tax increase was approved in 1992, increasing the tax by 6 cents over a phase of five years.
Starting Friday, drivers will see a 2.5-cent increase annually for five years, unless you keep your receipts and apply for a 100% rebate.
Jefferson City resident Debbie Lindquist was at the gas station Thursday filling up before the increase kicks in.
“Getting my gas today so I don’t have to pay the higher prices tomorrow,” Lindquist said. “I just feel like it’s more taxes on top of what we already pay.”
Earlier this year, the General Assembly approved the 2.5 cent increase per year for five years, bumping up the state’s tax from 17 cents to 29.5 cents by 2025. The increase also applies to drivers buying diesel.
“If you’re a driver that’s driving 15,000 miles per year and you have a car that gets 18 miles a gallon, that monthly cost to you is about $1.34,” Senate President Dave Schatz (R-Sullivan) said. “Realistically, it’s about $100 million annually.”
Schatz has been working to increase the gas tax for years, which funds roads and bridges.
“Also, our highway patrol is paid from that gas tax because they maintain the safety and the security of the roadway,” Schatz said. “Just in general, the maintenance and any new construction items all come from that same funding.”
Once the tax is fully implemented, it’s estimated to bring in more than $500 million, around $375 for a year for state highways and $135 million per year for city and county transportation needs.
“There’s a lot to try and take from this motor fuel tax,” Schatz said. “At the end of the day, even what we passed will not fully get us to the point of what we are experiencing which is annually about $800 million shortfall just of meeting the needs.”
Republican Representative from Jefferson County Mary Elizabeth Coleman voted against the increase during the session.
“I’m pretty frustrated and disappointed,” Coleman said. “I think this was a situation where people were asked directly at the ballot whether they wanted to have a gas tax or not. I’m disappointed in our Republican supermajority that we saw an increase in taxes after promising people wouldn’t do that.”
Coleman agrees the roads and bridges in the state need attention but does not believe taxing Missourians is the way to go about it.
“It’s no doubt that our roads and bridges need investment, but we are starting at billions of dollars of federal investment that is coming, we have more money right now in the budge than we’ve had in anybody’s memory,” Coleman said.
She’s also concerned about the rebate program.
“If you don’t lose them, you’re able to have everything in a shoebox for a form that hasn’t even been promulgated yet, there’s not really a tax is a little bit of a farce,” Coleman said. “I don’t think that more taxes are the solution.”
Gov. Mike Parson, who signed the bill in July said at an interstate ribbon cutting near the Arkansas border Thursday the increase was needed.
“If you want to keep your state moving forward, if you want to do projects like this, it’s going to cost something to do it and I think we did the right thing in the state by moving forward,” Parson said.
Lindquist said she’s going to try to keep her receipts but said it will be tough.
“Most of the time at the pumps there’s no paper and either you have to go in and get a receipt or just forget getting one,” Lindquist said. “If it’s out of paper I probably won’t go inside.”
She’s also worried the money won’t be used on infrastructure.
“It’s frustrating, I understand the need for good roads, but I just think MoDOT, I think there are other ways to spend money besides collecting more from us,” Lindquist said.
Drivers will have to submit their receipts to the Department of Revenue between July and September of next year. The form will include space to enter the number of gallons purchase, where the fuel was bought and information about the vehicle. The department is also recommending drivers keep their receipts in case of an audit.