As a small independent family-owned convenience store and vehicle fueling station in Central Connecticut, I’m on the front lines of providing gasoline to the Connecticut motoring public as well as police, fire, and EMS first responders in my community.
I’ve been in the industry for over 15 years and work hard every day, including throughout the pandemic, to ensure our product is always in supply and available at a fair price.
I know the challenge the recent sharp spike in gasoline prices has caused my customers. We operate in one of the most competitive retail industries in the state and work hard to constantly provide our customers with the lowest possible gasoline prices, that’s the only way we survive and keep customers coming back to our station.
Last week Gov. Ned Lamont and the legislature acted decisively to provide much needed relief through passing emergency bipartisan legislation (House Bill 5501) that will suspend Connecticut’s excise tax on gasoline from April 1, 2022, to June 30, 2022.
I applaud this action and stand with the state as a partner in working to provide this relief to the Connecticut public later this week.
Unfortunately, due to the wording and language of the new law, the state has created a troubling situation that could severely effect pricing and supply on April 1 and into that weekend.
The new law requires me as a retailer to immediately lower my pump price 25 cents (the amount of the state gasoline excise tax) at 12:01 a.m on Friday, without any recognition or credit that the full amount of supply that is in my tank at the time has already been assessed and the tax paid to CT Department of Revenue Services.
This will create a legal and commerce quandary where I will be forced to lower the price having already paid the tax to the state.
There’s a simple solution that other states, including Maryland, Implemented when they put their Maryland Gas Tax Holiday in place, that provides a “Inventory Tax-Free Advance Accounting” credit to ensure we can immediately pass along the gas tax cut and avoid the unintended consequences of runouts and potential price spikes.
Under the new requirements of the law that will happen Friday, I will have paid the full gas tax for all the fuel in my tank until I run out and get new supply fill. This may cause many retailers to run down their tank and wait to resupply to fill up, and that could cause severe supply shortages and disruptions next weekend and beyond if suppliers are forced to fill all the stations at the same time.
Even worse, Friday is the busiest day for gasoline fueling and because the April 1 date falls on a Friday this year, the state may have created an even larger supply shortage situation.
It’s only fair for the state to recognize my payment and remittance of the sales tax to them and allow me to have some type of mechanism to get through that already taxed supply.
I’m not a big international refiner or a Wall Street commodity trading company, who are the ones who set the world-wide price for gasoline, and I’m not asking for any special handout.
I’m only asking for the opportunity to empty my tank of the already taxed product that I’ve already paid to the state.
Surely common-sense points to the need for a simple administrative solution that will help us avoid making a bad situation much worse with supply shortages and destructions and allow us to lower the price to our customers.
The state must recognize this inherent unfairness in the law that just passed and provide some administrative help to fix this before next Friday.
Christopher Algoo is an independent gasoline retailer with stations in Enfield, West Hartford, and Simsbury.