Stimulus checks to help with gas prices?
Lawmakers have proposed a few different measures intended to provide relief at the pump as record-high gas prices hit drivers’ pocketbooks.
While the Biden administration briefly considered the idea of sending gas cards through the IRS, House Democrats have pitched ideas mirroring some popular pandemic relief programs such as stimulus checks and the advance child tax credit.
According to AAA’s gas price tracker, the average price for a regular gallon of gas stood at $4.24 nationally on March 22. Indiana’s average price is about 9 cents below the national rate at $4.15, putting it in the middle of the pack among U.S. states.
Indiana’s average price is down from a week ago, with AAA citing a drop in crude oil prices as the driving factor. However, prices remain high; last month’s average was $3.36, while Hoosier drivers were paying about $2.69 on average this time a year ago.
With that in mind, lawmakers are looking at ways to help American families feeling the pinch.
Reps. Mike Thompson of California, John Larson of Connecticut and Lauren Underwood of Illinois are calling for an energy rebate of $100 per month for individuals or $200 for couples, with the criteria similar to standards used for stimulus checks. The plan would add $100 for each dependent and would go to families for each month the national gas price exceeds $4 per gallon.
Single filers earning up to $75,000 annually or married couples filing jointly who earn up to $150,000 would be eligible. The Gas Rebate Act would go through the end of 2022.
Two other proposals depend on profits from oil companies.
Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio’s Stop Gas Price Gouging Tax and Rebate Act calls for families to receive a monthly tax credit. The measure would come from a one-time tax on oil companies.
Big Oil will pay a one-time, 50 percent windfall profit tax on any adjusted taxable income (ATI) in 2022 that exceeds 110 percent of their average ATI during pre-pandemic levels between 2015-2019.
Eligibility would again mirror that used for the stimulus checks program. How much Americans get would depend on the amount of money raised by taxing oil companies. DeFazio said the measure is intended to target large oil companies.
It’s similar to an earlier proposal from Rep. Ro Khanna of California and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island that calls for a quarterly rebate, with the money raised by taxing oil companies:
The Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax would provide consumers guaranteed relief while maintaining American competitiveness and reducing pressure on inflation by attacking corporate profiteering. Under the Khanna/Whitehouse bill, large oil companies that produce or import at least 300,000 barrels of oil per day (or did so in 2019) will owe a per-barrel tax equal to 50 percent of the difference between the current price of a barrel of oil and the pre-pandemic average price per barrel between 2015 and 2019, a period when large oil companies were already earning large profits. The quarterly tax will apply to both domestically produced and imported barrels of oil to ensure a level playing field.
Basing his figures on $120 per barrel of oil, Khanna estimated single filers would receive approximately $240 each year, while joint filers would receive roughly $360 each year.