Illinois fuel retailers continue fight against gas tax freeze sticker requirement
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WGEM) - The organization representing gas station owners across Illinois wants drivers to know the state has the highest gas taxes in the Midwest. The Illinois Fuel and Retail Association plans to share that message on the stickers Democratic lawmakers have required them to display on every gas pump starting July 1.
Stations will be required to put the advertisement on each gas pump noting lawmakers suspended the inflation adjustment, and the price drivers pay should reflect it. The law states gas stations must have the signs clearly visible to customers and any retailers who fail to put the sticker up from July 1 to Dec. 31 will be found guilty of a petty offense. Gas stations could also be fined $500 per day for each pump that doesn’t have a sticker.
“We would have rather kept the gas pumps message-free. There really shouldn’t be any kind of political messages on gas pumps,” said IFRA CEO Josh Sharp. “We sell gas to both Republicans and Democrats. It’s a shame that it’s come to this.”
Sharp argues the sticker requirement from Democratic leaders violates his organization’s right to free speech by compelling political speech. If the U.S. District Court sides with the Illinois Department of Revenue, fuel retailers will have to follow the law and post stickers.
However, Sharp said their stickers will point out that Illinois politicians have more than doubled the gas tax since 2019. Sharp stressed there will still be two gas tax increases in 2023, one hike on Jan. 1 and another on July 1.
“Hey, if you’re looking for the price to go down, don’t blame us. It’s not coming down at all,” Sharp said. “It’s just, we’re, the state of Illinois is delaying a tax increase.”
Former Republican Gov. George Ryan signed a plan into law in 2000 to suspend the state’s 5% sales tax on motor fuel for six months. Retailers also faced $500 fines if they didn’t have stickers on gas pumps back then.
The Pritzker administration says the sticker requirement is not partisan and the goal is to protect consumers.
“They know that they should not be paying more thanks to the gas tax freeze,” said Deputy Press Secretary Olivia Kuncio. “Suspending the gas tax increase is one of many relief measures put in place by Gov. Pritzker, including relief on groceries and property taxes as well as direct payments to Illinoisans.”
Sharp expects a court decision for this case on Friday.
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