Motorists filling up in Illinois have been paying double the gas tax all month, but there are ways they can save money if they do some research.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an infrastructure package that doubled the state’s gas tax from 19 cents a gallon to 38 cents last month. It went into effect July 1. The measure, along with an increase in vehicle registration and other driving fees, is supposed to help pay for a $45 billion, six-year infrastructure plan.
GasBuddy.com petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said Illinois motorists are definitely feeling the increased gas tax, especially those who don’t live close to a border to fill up in another state.
“Not everyone can do that, so it’s been a challenge dealing with gas prices that shot up 20 cents a gallon overnight and remain about 15 cents a gallon higher than they were a month ago,” DeHaan said.
There are lots of fuel savers programs, he said, from gas stations offering discounts, to grocery stores partnering with gas stations for discounts. There’s even a savers program through GasBuddy.com.
“Motorists should not pay for loyalty programs,” DeHaan said. “Everyone is going to have to calculate on their own which program is the best. Sometimes it can make it worth it.”
While consumers can find savings through various types of rewards, or loyalty programs, Illinois Petroleum Marketers’ Association Executive Director Bill Fleischli said such programs cost stores somewhere.
“You either make it up with inside sales, you make it up with outside sales, you make it up with cigarettes, you cannot give the product away at 10 or 15 cents under cost and make money,” Fleischli said. “You just can’t do that.”
DeHaan disagreed and said companies wouldn’t offer the programs if it was a loss leader.
“Loyalty drives sales of merchandise in the gas station and that certainly is much better than motorists who just come to the station and fill up,” DeHaan said.
However, DeHaan cautions consumers about grocery store programs that offer fuel savings for certain products.
“They might be pushing you to the expensive olive oil instead of the store name olive oil,” DeHaan said. “So you may be paying more for olive oil than you wanted to to fetch a discount and that’s what grocery stores and the manufacturers behind those products know and that’s why they tend to offer those rebates. They want to get you hooked on something that may be a little bit better than what you’re used to.”
While consumers taking part in a savings program may feel like they’re avoiding the tax, DeHaan said the tax is still getting paid.
“Everyone is still paying their fair share, it’s just kind of considered as a marketing expense,” DeHaan said.