Hartford: Connecticut Energy Marketers Association (CEMA), which represents 70 percent of the gas stations in Connecticut, wants consumers to be patient when it comes to seeing relief at the pumps with recently passed legislation offering a “gas tax holiday.”
“Consumers will see relief but it won’t be right away,” said Chris Herb, President of CEMA. “While lawmakers seemed more willing to offer a tax refund for fuel already in gas stations’ tanks, that ultimately did not happen. We want the same relief for our customers as they do but unfortunately, because the state was unwilling to refund the that gas tax money already built into the cost of fuel at your local gas station, we can’t offer that savings until that fuel is sold off.”
The state gas tax works differently for consumers who fill up at the pumps then it does for consumers who are buying a shirt at a local store. For example, the consumer at the store pays the sale tax when they swipe their card. For gasoline, the excise, or wholesale tax, is built into the cost of the fuel and is paid in full when the gasoline is delivered to your local gas station. It is not a separate charge like you see on a receipt at Target or Walmart.
Because of this, the gasoline that is already in the tanks at your local gas station will cost more until that fuel is sold off.
“High traffic areas will see relief first because that taxed fuel already in the tanks will sell out more quickly,” Herb said. “Rural areas like in Norfolk, Eastern Connecticut, and other places in Litchfield County, may have to wait a week or more until that fuel is sold. We just really want our customers to understand that this is not our call. If the state just refunded the tax money already paid, consumers would have seen immediate relief.”
Just to put this in perspective, an average gas station typically has two tanks: 10,000 gallons each, or 20,000 gallons total. One tank is for unleaded gasoline and one tank for premium gasoline. If the state excise tax of 25 cents per gallon (cpg) is suspended and those tanks are full, gas station owners would lose $5,000 in tax money—if not more—in an excise tax that is built into the cost of fuel. There are 1400 gasoline stations in the state. If those tanks were half full, the cost would be 3.5 million dollars in state taxes that Connecticut wants local gas stations to absorb. This is a consumer tax. Gas stations only make pennies per gallon in profits. Being asked to bankroll the state’s gas tax holiday could bankrupt them.
“Connecticut gas stations are mostly family-owned businesses,” Herb said. “These are the people that you see at the little league game; you see them at the grocery store. It’s your neighbor selling you gas. They are not looking to unfairly increase your gas prices. They are part of your community. They are just trying to make a living like you are. They don’t set the state sales tax; lawmakers in Hartford do that.”
In fact, Connecticut state law prohibits oil refiners like Exxon Mobile, Shell and BP from owning and operating gas stations in the state. This is meant to mitigate gouging because the person selling you gasoline is not directly working for the oil refiners.
“We just want consumers to be aware of this. As soon as we sell off the taxed fuel and get our new tax-free fuel, they will see savings. It just may take a few days or weeks.”
*CEMA represents 1000 out of the 1400 gas stations in Connecticut. Our motor fuel members own, operate, and distribute gasoline to one thousand locations throughout Connecticut.