Massachusetts voters may get say on 'forever tax'

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, August 08, 2013

Truckers and others in Massachusetts are paying more in tax at the fuel pump since July 31. A push underway in the state is intended to help make sure it doesn’t become a habit.

The state’s fuel tax rate increased last week by 3 cents from 21 cents per gallon to 24 cents. The boost is the result of the new transportation funding package that also ties the state’s fuel tax rate to inflation, which allows for regular increases.

A group of Republican lawmakers and activists want to get rid of the provision allowing for automatic increases. They label the new law as a “forever tax” because the tax rate can increase without legislative action.

To qualify for the 2014 fall ballot, supporters must gather nearly 69,000 voter signatures in the months ahead.

The fuel tax increase was part of a Democrat-led transportation funding package that includes a $1 excise tax on cigarettes and adding the state’s 6.5 percent sales tax on computer software services. The new money will be applied to roads and bridges.

In addition, a 2.5-cent portion of the fuel tax applied to underground storage tank cleanups is being rerouted to transportation.

The funding plan is expected to raise $800 million in taxes annually by 2018.

The ballot effort would not affect the tax increases already imposed.

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