Daily Court Reporter - News Fuel tax transparency aim of House Republican bill
Fuel tax transparency aim of House Republican bill
KEITH ARNOLD, Daily Reporter Staff Writer
A northwest Ohio lawmaker wants Ohio motorists to be aware of just how much of the money they fork over at the gas pump goes to taxes.
Republican Rep. Derek Merrin of Monclova has proposed House Bill 70, a measure he calls the Fuel Tax Transparency Act, to require stickers be placed on retail service station pumps displaying the rates of federal and state taxes applicable to gasoline and diesel fuel.
"With this bill, our legislature has an opportunity to be a national leader in tax transparency," Merrin told fellow House members seated on the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. "HB 70 has a simple premise - Ohioans should know the fuel taxes they are paying and the tax rates being levied."
Just as county auditors throughout the Buckeye State serve as the sealer of the weights and measures under the rule of the director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, so would they or their municipal counterpart place stickers on retail gas station pumps showing the federal and state excise taxes imposed on each gallon of gasoline and diesel fuel.
The plan calls for the Agriculture director to design and produce the stickers according to specifications prescribed by the bill - within 60 days of the bill's effective date. The director, then, must notify local sealers and, upon the order of each sealer, deliver enough to the sealer to allow for the stickers to be placed on each retail service pump that the sealer is charged with inspecting.
Each local sealer has 14 months to affix the stickers on the appropriate pumps, HB 70 stipulates.
The bill calls for missing stickers and those posted for three years to be replaced.
Analysis of the bill provided by the Ohio Legislative Service Commission notes that a retail gas station operator is not liable for affixing or maintaining the stickers.
"Ohio imposes a 28-cents-per-gallon tax on gasoline and diesel fuel," the lawmaker said. "The federal tax rate is 18.4 cents-per-gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents-per-gallon on diesel fuel.
"In total, Ohioans pay 46.4 cents-per-gallon for gasoline and 52.4 cents-per-gallon for diesel fuel. To properly inform taxpayers, the bill requires fuel tax stickers displaying state and federal tax rates to be affixed on retail fuel pumps in Ohio."
The bill outlines the general size, arrangement of the information and color (either red, white or blue) of the sticker. In addition to the design to include the state seal, it must also contain the following statement: "This notice is required by the Ohio Fuel Transparency Act, O.R.C. 5735.50."
"Ohioans pay an estimated $3 billion in state and federal fuel taxes," Merrin said. "Although taxes generate significant revenue, the taxes go unnoticed by many taxpayers.
"HB 70 will help taxpayers become more aware of the taxes they pay and the true cost of government."
He added that transparency is a must if an engaged electorate wishes to hold its government accountable.
Texas passed a similar law in 2015.
In the event of a change to either the federal or state tax rate, the Agriculture director would be required to produce new stickers reflecting the change within 60 days after the rate change takes effect. Again, HB 70 allows local sealers 14 months to affix the new stickers to gas pumps, bill analysis provides.
The bill, which was not scheduled for a second hearing at the time of publication, has earned cosponsor support of 20 of Merrin's fellow House members.
Date Published: September 1, 2017