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Massachusetts Voters to Decide Fate of Gas Tax


 Massachusetts voters to determine fate of gas tax on November 4, 2014.

Under current law, the gas tax in Massachusetts must be adjusted every year by the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index over the preceding year. On November 4, voters will have the opportunity to repeal that law.

A yes vote on Measure 1 “would eliminate the requirement that the state’s gas tax be adjusted annually based on the Consumer Price Index.” It would also prevent the gas tax from dropping below 21.5 cents per gallon.

A no vote on Measure 1 “would make no change in the laws regarding the gas tax.”

For

Those in favor of Measure 1 argue that voting yes “simply stops the linkage of the gas tax to inflation” and point out that the current system, which “causes the tax to increase every year without a vote of the Legislature” is “taxation without representation.”

Republican lawmakers in Massachusetts tend to be against indexing the gas tax to inflation (or for Measure 1). In addition, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform recently visited the state to campaign for the repeal.

Against

Those opposed to Measure 1 argue that it “threatens the safety of you and your family when traveling on Massachusetts’ roads and bridges.”  A yes vote would make matters worse “by taking away existing gas tax revenues that we need to solve this public safety crisis.”

Many states now link fuel taxes to inflation or prices, including Massachusetts’ northern neighbor, New Hampshire. According to Matthew Gardner, executive director of the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, “It’s been a very welcome trend in the last few years toward indexing the gas tax for some measure of inflation. A third of the states do it, which is the best possible development for a sustainable gas tax.”

Stay on top of fuel tax changes in Massachusetts and other states. Learn more.

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Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.