Letter to the Editor: Propane sales tax?

To be Taxed or Not to be Taxed?

by Tim Fesko

I was recently reading a letter to the Editor in a local newspaper titled “Propane Sales Tax?” by Alice Suszynski, a local in June Lake. Alice described how she recently found out that purchasing Propane Gas for your primary residence is not taxable. Yes you read that right, the law states that the purchase of Propane Gas for use in your primary residence (no vacation homes) is not subject to the State Sales Tax.
After reading Alice’s entire letter, I sat back and was dismayed. I thought “Is this really true?” And if it is true, then how come our local propane companies are not telling us about this?

Upon returning home, I started to research the Internet and low and behold everything that Alice wrote about was indeed TRUE! It turns out that the exemption of sales tax on Propane Gas was passed in April of 2001. Yes that’s right, it was signed into law in 2001 and it seems that practically no one over here in the Eastern Sierra has ever heard about it.

According to Alice, when she contacted her propane company and asked why they have not informed the public for the last 11 years, their answer was “it is our company policy not to tell our customers about this exemption”. I for one am horrified that any company would not inform their customers that they could save money. What would the motive be for any company not to inform their customers?

I think a question for our propane companies is where did the money go that they have been collecting for sales tax? By law any sales tax collected has to be passed onto the State. So a valid question is did they pass the collected tax along to the State or did they keep it which would be against the law. Or if they did indeed pass it along to the State was it collected under false pretenses? Did they have an obligation to inform their customers and would the propane company be liable to return any amounts collected to its customers?

I reside in the Antelope Valley where we have a large number of elderly that live on fixed incomes. In fact, I know many elderly that have had to apply for a special government programs in order to help pay for propane, just so that they could stay warm during the winters.
The idea that any company would not inform their customers, especially our elderly, of an exemption like this really pushes my button! I am beyond the point of anger. I feel that we the residents of Mono County have been deceived and for what reason?

I’m sure many of you are asking the question “what can I do now to get this exemption on the Propane Gas we purchase for our primary home?”. The answer is, contact your propane company immediately. Tell them that you want the exemption from sales tax on all of your future purchases of Propane Gas per State Law AB426.  There is a very simple form they may require you to fill out.  If they say they do not have the form, tell them to get form BOE-203-C from the Board of Equalization’s website at www.boe.ca.gov.

Alice was lucky enough to receive a partial refund on some of the sales taxes that she had paid in the past.  Of course she had to fight for this.  I’m not sure how successful any of us will be in getting our refunds.  However, you might as well ask, because all they can say is No.  However, the one thing they can not say No to is you not having to pay Sales Tax on Propane Gas for your primary residence.  Contact your propane company today and ask for this exemption!

Tim Fesko

Antelope Valley

 

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24 Responses to Letter to the Editor: Propane sales tax?

  1. Catch 22 February 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm #

    Thank you for this information! I think Bennet will have fun pursuing this one. I’d like to see what other propane providers are quoted as saying on this.

     
  2. Tony Dublino February 29, 2012 at 5:29 pm #

    Can you say “class action lawsuit?” I’ll be checking my bills tonight.

     
  3. andrew February 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

    Very interesting, good job on alerting the public. What a rip, I just bought 50gal. cost me 236.33 thats a lot of tuna.

     
    • Benett Kessler February 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

      I believe we will soon have information from a local propane company. Stay tuned.
      Benett

       
      • Tom Sigler March 2, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

        Recently Mr. Tim Fesko’s letter to the editor “Propane Tax” was brought to my attention. It is true in 2001 the tax laws were changed to exempt propane from sales tax delivered into a customers tank with some exemptions. To review the tax code google AB426 read down and click on regulation 1533. The propane industry, through the “NPGA” National Propane Gas Association, of which we are a member, petitioned the Ca. State government for a number of years to make propane exempt from sales tax. The end result was AB426. Since it became law, my company Eastern Sierra Propane, includes a Sales Tax Exemption Form in our new customer packets. We have also informed existing customers of the tax law change. There are other fees charged by some propane providers, which many consumers may believe to be a government required fee like, regulatory compliance fee, hazmat surcharge or fuel transfer fee. These are not government required fees and we do not charge. I cannot understand why any propane provider would not want their customers to know how to become sales tax exempt.

         
        • Benett Kessler March 2, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

          Tom, Thank you much for this response to help the public understand the situation.
          Benett Kessler

           
        • Catch 22 March 3, 2012 at 11:51 am #

          Tom-
          Thanks for standing up on this issue. My question for you is why include an exemption form instead of just not charging the tax? For people who did not fill out the form and were charged tax, was that tax submitted to the state?

           
        • Alice Suszynski March 4, 2012 at 10:02 am #

          So you actually care about your customers! How refreshing. Amerigas and Turner are still not helping their customers with this according to people I’ve talked to. And, they say “it’s not their responsibility to babysit you” according to Ted Carlton of the Sheet. But how are people supposed to know if they are not aware of the exemption? Your company is doing the correct thing and I only wish you delivered to June Lake.

           
          • Alice Suszynski March 4, 2012 at 10:31 am #

            I should make this correction to the comment above because I don’t want to be inflammatory.

            “it’s not their responsibility to babysit you’. This is either Ted Carlton’s opinion or his characterization of the opinion of some person at Turner.

             
          • Ken Warner March 4, 2012 at 11:41 am #

            Amerigas doesn’t charge sales tax except for the Utility Users Tax that our town council and the voters thought was wise to add to our utility bills.

            Amerigas does charge $11.00 a month “Meter Service” to read the meter. Must be a more difficult task than I imagine…..

             
          • Alice Suszynski March 4, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

            Yes, I am becoming aware that things are different in Mammoth if you are on metered service and I really don’t know anything about that. What I am concerned with is people who get tank fill-ups.

            Are there some sections of Mammoth that still have tanks?

             
        • Tim Fesko March 5, 2012 at 9:35 pm #

          Tom – I would like to say “Thank you” for being proactive and to care about your customers. As a business owner myself, I would never think about “not” informing my customers on ways to save money. While it may not be their job to inform customers nor their obligation, I don’t see any upside in not informing their customers. While they may not have an obligation to their customers, I believe that they have a “moral” obligation. It is business practices such as these that give business a bad name.

           
  4. johndoeml February 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm #

    Anyone else had luck getting the taxes back?

     
    • Alice Suszynski February 29, 2012 at 10:53 pm #

      I did! but I’m sort of like a pit bull about stuff like this. It would take more time than a comment section allows but if the person who runs this blog would like to contact me, I’ll fill you in.

      I’m so glad the word is getting out. Thanks Tim!

       
      • Tim Fesko March 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

        Alice, thank you for writing the letter in the first place. I am amazed that it has taken 11 years for this to come to light. I guess Pit Bulls like us care about things like this!

         
  5. hisierragal February 29, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    Thank you Alice, Tim and Benett. I will be following this story at the same time that I seriously consider removing the last of the propane appliances in my house. Yup, sounds like class action time to me too, Tony.

     
  6. Tiki Traveler February 29, 2012 at 9:39 pm #

    Yeah….so what can us apartment dwellers do about that? I just paid 220 bucks for Jan. 11 – Feb. 11 and I know I wasn’t crankin’ that baby up that much!

     
  7. upthecreek February 29, 2012 at 9:40 pm #

    very easy to charge a tax,, Almost impossible to get it back…

    thanks for the info..
    Iam sure this will ruffle a few feathers

    GO GET THEM BENNET
    AND PLEASE POST THE LINK TO THE EXEMPT FORM

    also people may be able to claim the taxes paid on their state tax returns
    talk with your accountant

    GGW

     
    • Alice Suszynski March 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      “very easy to charge a tax,, Almost impossible to get it back…”

      Not if you make things ugly for the person who owes you a refund and are willing to fight for what is right.

       
  8. Nes Lessman March 1, 2012 at 6:49 am #

    I smell a rate hike coming!!

     
  9. Mammoth Resident March 1, 2012 at 9:07 am #

    Clarification:
    the form is BOE230c
    http://www.boe.ca.gov/pdf/boe230c.pdf

     
  10. ML local March 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    I called Turner to ask about this as I looked at my bill and we do have a tax on there. They told me that metered accounts have only been charged a Mammoth Lakes tax and not the state tax. The people who get their tanks filled up were charged the state tax. But I still don’t trust that they are telling the truth, so if anyone can confirm this is true, please do!

     
    • Alice Suszynski March 2, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

      Since I wrote the letter I have had the chance to talk to numerous people about this. One woman said she was on a metered account and that she didn’t see tax applied. That’s what I know.

       
  11. Trouble March 3, 2012 at 12:33 am #

    Bennett- I was hoping someone would also report on the other deceiving charges both Turner and Lone Pine Propane charge people on most deliveries . I believe both companies are really owned by a company called Heritage. They only take these extra charges off if you request it.

     

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