ST. LOUIS — It's hard to ignore the cost of gas these days, but there could be a new tool in Missouri to help you get some of your money back from the pump.
It's free money, but the state is likely hoping you'll forget about it. Until now.
The news of this refundable gas tax has been widely reported. The gas tax will go up 2.5 cents every year for the next few years until the gas tax reaches about 30 cents per gallon in Missouri.
You might not have noticed that kind of incremental change before, but with gas prices sky high, people are looking for any way to save on gas money.
"Once I realized that Missouri was taxing us on something that was fully refundable, it just felt like a little bit of a money grab," said Tammi Hilton, restaurateur and creator of the No MO Gas Tax app. "I wanted to find a way to provide a solution behind it."
Her solution was to create an app that digitizes and tracks gas receipts, making it much easier and more manageable to track gas purchases and turn in receipts to the state.
She believes the state is banking that drivers will be too lazy to turn in receipts.
"Either being lazy and not knowing about it, not knowing how to get your money back, thinking it's too hard, thinking you might have missed the opportunity," said Hilton, who reminded drivers that the first time you can submit your gas receipts is in July. "This has nothing to do with the taxes that you file at the end of the year," she added.
Missouri has one of the lowest gas taxes in the country, and this money would pay for things like infrastructure. The state also hasn't had a gas tax increase in 25 years. Hilton said while she understands that and drives on roads that need repairs, she believes the state gets money from other sources, like the federal government, to repair infrastructure.
South Carolina already has a refundable gas tax, and in the first year of its program saw about a 15% claim rate on the refunds. Missouri officials have said they expect the claim rate to be higher because it made the refund mechanism fairly easy in Missouri.
Hilton believes her app will make it that much easier. She reminded people that the money adds up — especially if you have several cars in a family or drive a lot for work.
Vehicles under 26,000 pounds and registered in the state of Missouri are eligible for a refund. It's estimated to bring in about $500 million when fully implemented, meaning no one turns in receipts.
Ultimately, Hilton said it's about choice.
"At the end of the day, it's a refundable tax that is available to me," said Hilton. "And I'm going to take advantage of it."