Is the gas tax rebate program worth your time?

Reality Check

Have you been keeping your gas receipts?

As part of an attempt to make the gas tax increase a little bit easier to swallow, lawmakers added in a way for us to get back some of the extra money we spend.

The gas tax went up $.02 last July, and they will add another $.02 this July, and every July until 2022 when the gas tax is $.28 per gallon. That money is going toward fixing our state’s crumbling roads and bridges.

The government is not all take here. Your gas purchases, and maintenance costs qualify you for a refund.

However, Chris Nowell, who is a CPA in Charleston says, getting your rebate isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“Could you imagine going through a year’s worth of gas receipts to add up the gallons,” Nowell asked.

If you want the refund, that’s what you will have to do. Your refund is based on how many gallons of gasoline you buy in South Carolina. Not how much you spend.

“You’ve got to maintain your receipts because the [burden of proof] is on the taxpayer,” Nowell said. “The other issue is that it’s the lesser of the gas or the maintenance on the vehicle.”

So the next question becomes, what if you have no maintenance expenses?

According to the South Carolina Department of Revenue, if you have no maintenance expense, even if you prepaid for a service plan, “since the the credit is based on the lesser of the two, if the maintenance is $0, then there would not be a tax credit,” a SCDOR rep told The Investigators.

Even when it works in your favor, it’s not an overwhelming rebate.

Nowell gave us an example using someone who drives 15,000 miles in 2018. If that vehicle gets 20 mile per gallon, it will need 750 gallons of gas. Multiply that by the $.03 per gallon and the rebate is: $22.50. You will have spent in the neighborhood of $1700 for the year, based on the current average of $2.30/gallon at the pumps in SC.

On the bright side, each taxpayer can claim two vehicles, and a married couple filing jointly gets four.

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