House Bill 1633, to make gas tax transparency permanent
This Legislative Memo was published as an op-ed in State Tax Today on 3/27/2019
- Consumers have a right to know, understand, and verify the taxes that they pay at the pump. Increased gas tax transparency has been a longstanding recommendation of the Washington Policy Center.
- In 2017, HB 2180 was passed as a budget proviso, providing fuel tax transparency by requiring stickers that provide federal and state motor fuel tax rates on fuel pumps.
- As that proviso expires on June 20, 2019, HB 1633 seeks to make this change permanent.
- HB 1633 ensures the continued practice of government informing consumers exactly how much they pay for gas and how much they pay in taxes for transportation infrastructure.
- This greater level of transparency would increase public trust and empower taxpayers in understanding the complete costs of transportation infrastructure.
Consumers have a right to know, understand, and verify the taxes that they pay at the pump. Increased gas tax transparency has been a longstanding recommendation of the Washington Policy Center.
In Washington state, the real price of gas, before state and federal gas taxes are applied, is hidden from consumers. As a result, the advertised dollar price is much higher than the true price of the product.
Gasoline is one of the few retail products that are treated this way. This method of pricing, which hides the taxes consumers must pay at the pump, makes it difficult for people to know how many of their dollars go to the state and to the federal government to pay for transportation infrastructure. Consequently, the invisibility of gas taxes compounds the difficulty the public already experiences in assessing the performance of lawmakers and public transportation agencies and holding them accountable for how transportation tax dollars are spent.