For the first time in more than two decades, Missouri drivers will pay more tax at the gas station starting this fall.
On Tuesday Gov. Mike Parson signed a raise to the gas tax, which has idled at 17 cents per gallon, to raise money for highway and bridge repairs. But because increasing the tax has been so unpopular — a 10-cent per gallon hike over five years was rejected by 54% of Missouri voters in 2018 — there’s a twist: Drivers who are so inclined may seek out a refund.
How much is the tax going up?
The increase will start with a 2.5-cent-per-gallon hike Oct 1. and rise annually for the next five years. For a personal vehicle, that’s less than 50 additional cents per trip to the gas station.
From October through June 30, 2022, the gas tax will be 19.5 cents per gallon.
From July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023, it will be 22 cents per gallon.
From July 1, 2023 through June 30, 2024, it will be 24.5 cents per gallon.
From July 1, 2024 through June 30, 2025, it will be 27 cents per gallon.
And from July 1, 2026 onward, it will be 29.5 cents per gallon.
Missouri’s current gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since 1996, is the second lowest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. When the full increase is effective in 2026, it still will be lower than in neighboring Illinois and Iowa but higher than Kansas, where it is 24 cents per gallon for gasoline and 26 cents for diesel.
I voted against this in 2018. Is there any way out of it?
Maybe. A conservative group, the Missouri chapter of Americans For Prosperity, has filed a petition to again send the issue to a statewide vote in 2022.
As a concession to critics, lawmakers did leave a way for drivers to opt out of the increase, although it will require a certain amount of effort and documentation.
A refund option is available to everyone driving a vehicle less than 26,000 pounds who buys gas in the state. That’s all non-commercial vehicles and some smaller trucks. Even out-of-state motorists who fill up a tank while passing through Missouri would technically be eligible to get their 25 or 30 cents back.
How do I get a refund?
To be clear, the refund option only applies to the amount of tax increase. You’ll still have to pay the base 17-cents-per-gallon.
Missouri already allows farmers to apply to the Department of Revenue for a gas tax refund on fuel used off-road, and Senate President Dave Schatz, who pushed for the tax hike this year, said he expects the process for the increase to be similar but updated for online applications.
Refunds will be available once a year in the first three months after each fiscal year. To get the 2.5 cents per gallon back that you’ll pay through next June, you’ll be able to apply between July 1 and Sept. 30 next year.
You’ll have to supply the following in your application:
1. Vehicle identification number of the car that used the gas
2. Dates you bought the gas
3. Your name and address
4. Name and address of the gas seller
5. Gallons purchased in the fiscal year
6. Separately, gallons purchased and taxed under Missouri’s motor fuel tax
The new law requires you to keep your gas receipts for three years in case of audit over a refund.