Lawmakers in Congress and state legislatures are considering giving motorists cash rebates to defray the elevated cost of gasoline.
Why it matters
Gas has averaged more than $4 a gallon nationwide since March, hitting $5 in more recent weeks.
After steadily increasing for months, the price of gas has made something of a U-turn, dropping to $4.80 a gallon just weeks after reaching a high of more than $5 in mid-June.
But the national average is still well above what it was before the pandemic, and lawmakers are looking for ways to provide relief at the pump: Some states have, and President Joe Biden has endorsed a .
Another option, though, is a” that would give eligible Americans $100 a month through the end of the year or for as long as the price of gas exceeds $4 a gallon. Democratic Reps. Lauren Underwood, Mike Thompson and John Larson proposed the idea in March with their Gas Rebate Act of 2022.
Given the attitude in Congress toward more stimulus handouts, the proposal hasn’t gotten very far. But individual states have picked up the idea and run with it.
Here’s what you need to know about gas rebates, including which states are offering them, how much they’re for and efforts on the federal level.
What states and cities are offering gas rebates?
A handful of municipalities have begun — or are looking into — gas refunds.
After efforts to suspend California’s 51-cent gas tax failed, Gov. Gavin Newsom tried inserting a gas tax rebate into the state budget in May. He wanted every household with a car registered in the state to receive a $400 debit card, up to two cars per family.
But he compromised with lawmakers and agreed to suspend the state sales tax on diesel fuel. Residents will also receive “inflation relief” checks of up to $1,050 per family.
Democratic state senators have proposed giving all licensed adult drivers a one-time payment of $200 toward fueling up. That’s roughly what the average North Carolinian pays in state gas taxes from July to December, according to State Sen. Michael Garrett, a co-sponsor of the gas rebate bill.
The plan would cost $1.3 billion, but sponsors say it could come out of the state’s approximate $4.241 billion tax surplus.
“This approach keeps the Highway Fund and the Highway Trust Fund whole, while still collecting revenue from non-residents passing through our state using our roads, highways and bridges,” Garrett said in a statement.
If their bill passes, the rebates would be sent by Oct. 1.
The Windy City has already started issuing some of the 50,000 prepaid $150 gas cards and 100,000 prepaid $50 transit cards approved by the city council.
Those interested in benefiting from the Chicago Moves plan must be at least 18 years old, in possession of a valid driver’s license and earn no more than $73,000, the city’s median annual income.
Applications must be received by the first of the month, and recipients are chosen via lottery monthly through to September.
Does the White House support a federal gas rebate?
Biden said he supports pausing the federal gas tax for three months and encouraged individual states to consider similar money-saving efforts, including “consumer rebates and relief payments,” the White House said in a June 22 statement.
The president told reporters that a nationwide gas rebate card program “is part of what we’re considering,” Cox Media reported.
In addition, there would be no mechanism to ensure consumers didn’t use the cards for purchases other than gasoline, and getting support from Congress would be a long shot.
What is the Gas Rebate Act of 2022?
The measure will give eligible Americans $100 for every month left in 2022 that gasoline continues to average more than $4 a gallon. If they have dependents, they would receive another $100.
Who would be eligible for a federal gas rebate?
As with the pandemic stimulus checks, compensation depends on income levels: Individuals earning less than $75,000 will get the full $100. The amount would diminish the more you earn, and individuals making over $80,000 wouldn’t be eligible for any rebate.
Joint filers earning less than $150,000 would receive the full $100, phased out at $160,000.