LEGISLATIVE NEWS: House Passes Bill Proposing Accountability For Fuel Tax Evasion

OLYMPIA, WA – From cars and boats to planes and trucks, fuel keeps Washington moving. But for some, the road to fairness in funding our transportation system is riddled with potholes. Representative Bill Ramos (D-Issaquah) is pushing for change with House Bill 1964, which aims to tighten fuel tax enforcement and close revenue gaps.

“While the Department of Licensing oversees transportation taxes in Washington, it lacks the same tools as the Department of Revenue to ensure everyone pays their fair share,” explains Ramos, drawing on his expertise from the US Department of Transportation. “Right now, the system relies on an honor system, and unfortunately, some are taking advantage.”

His bill targets a specific loophole: the fuel tax is included in the price of gasoline paid by the person filling up. However, many assume that it is then forwarded to the state by the gas station. It is, in fact, the responsibility of the entity transporting the fuel from refineries to stations, to report these taxes to the state.

HB 1964 empowers the Department of Licensing to track and investigate any potential fuel tax and registration violations, creating a dedicated “fuel tax discovery team.”

“This isn’t about raising or adding any taxes,” says Ramos. “It’s about making sure everyone who benefits from our roads and bridges contributes their fair share. According to our estimates, this legislation could bring in an additional $16 million per biennium – revenue we desperately need to maintain and improve our transportation infrastructure.”

The legislation is based off similarly implemented legislation in Colorado, which exceeded revenue collection estimates. Colorado’s fuel tax discovery team was able to secure over $8 million in approximately six months and continued to see increased collections over a two-year period.

Ramos emphasizes the importance of fairness that inspired the legislation. “It’s simply not right when some skirt the rules while others foot the bill,” he says. “HB 1964 levels the playing field and ensures everyone contributes their portion to a safer, more efficient transportation system for all Washingtonians.”

Substitute House Bill 1964 passed the House today with a vote of 92-4. It now heads to the Senate for further consideration.