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Gas Station Association Prepared to Add ‘Truth’ to Illinois-mandated Gas Tax Sticker

'They’re just putting off that tax increase until after an election... '

(, The Center Square) Part of the Illinois state budget that begins July 1 includes a delay in the annual motor fuel tax increase. An association says they’re ready to add to a state-mandated sign announcing the delay to give it more context that they say taxpayers need to know.

In April, state lawmakers approved the state budget that begins next month. The budget includes various rebates for income taxes and property owners, as well as a 12-month reduction of the grocery tax from 1% to zero percent. There’s also a six-month delay in the annual state motor fuel tax increase scheduled to go into effect July 1 that’s estimated at about 2 cents a gallon.

The law requires both grocery stores and gas stations to post certain signage announcing that state lawmakers approved the tax changes. While there is no fine for grocery stores that don’t post signs, there is a fine for gas stations.

“I think people that are pumping gas, and are looking at the price, their gaze will fix upon the pump and maybe they’ll read about the good things that we did,” state Rep. Mike Zalewski, D-Riverside, said in April.

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But critics say the forced gas pump sign is a violation of First Amendment free speech rights.

The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association sued over the requirement, saying the sign requirement is forced political speech. The case has been moved from state court to federal court and is expected to be heard Friday.

If Illinois gas stations are forced by the courts to put a sign on their pumps announcing a delay in the looming 2-cent a gallon state gas tax increase, IFRA said it is ready to set the record straight.

“Several Illinois politicians have sort of made the argument that delaying a tax increase is somehow tantamount to a tax cut and that’s just not the case,” IFRA CEO Josh Sharp told The Center Square. “The gasoline tax in the state of Illinois is staying exactly the same on July 1 as it was the year before and now they’re going to raise it twice in 2023. They’re just putting off that tax increase until after an election.”

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The state-required language for the gas pump sign says “As of July 1, 2022, the State of Illinois has suspended the inflation adjustment to the motor fuel tax through December 31, 2022. The price on this pump should reflect the suspension of the tax increase.”

Sharp said if the courts require gas stations to post that, the IFRA will follow the law and the required size, but will add “the truth about gas prices lawmakers hope drivers will forget.”

“Politicians have raised gas taxes three times since 2019. They doubled the state’s motor fuel tax in 2019,” Sharp said, from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents. “Illinois now has the second-highest gas tax in the nation. We could move to No. 1 depending on how high gas prices go because Illinois charges a sales tax on gasoline.”

The state sales tax is assessed on top of the state gas tax. The 6.25 cent sales tax also is assessed on every dollar purchased, not on the gallon. So when gasoline reaches $5 a gallon, for example, motorists pay an additional 31.25 cents on each gallon on top of the gas tax.

In addition to setting the record straight with motorists, the IFRA’s additions to the sign will say the state is “forcing us to tell you about it with this sign, or pay a $500/day fine.”

“We’re letting them know that we’re doing this because the state of Illinois has forced us into this position,” Sharp said. “And I believe there’s also a QR code on those signs which I would encourage motorists to use while they’re waiting at the gas pump to see how much they’re paying in Illinois gas taxes on that gallon of fuel.”

When scanned by a smartphone, the QR code will go to the Illinois Policy Institute’s gas tax calculator.

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