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August 31, 2004

. . . From Attorney General Charlie Crist and the Florida Department of Revenue

Florida's Month-long Gas Tax Cut Ends at Midnight Tuesday

TALLAHASSEE - Floridas 8-cents-per-gallon gasoline tax cut will end at midnight Tuesday after a month of delivering proven lower gasoline prices to Florida motorists, the state Department of Revenue (DOR) announced.

Data provided by the American Automobile Association demonstrates that average gasoline prices statewide dropped from more than $1.926 cents per gallon on July 30, 2004, to $1.816 cents per gallon on August 30, a decrease of 11 cents per gallon. Average gas prices nationally fell 2.3 cents in August.

"The gas tax holiday is something consumers deserved," said Attorney General Charlie Crist. "The Legislature provided a means of relief that worked well for Floridians."

"Florida motorists saw real benefits because of the cooperation of Florida gasoline retailers," said Jim Zingale, DOR executive director. "The strong partnership among Attorney General Crist, the American Automobile Association, and all the gasoline retailers worked to quickly and effectively implement this law. We at DOR are pleased to have played a supporting role in this success."

Zingale said Attorney General Crists strong enforcement stance played an important role in the implementation. Crist sent teams of investigators to gasoline wholesalers and is reviewing 472 complaints received from members of the public. The law required gasoline terminal suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers to pass the full benefit of the gas tax cut along to consumers. Failure to comply could result in prosecution for a third-degree felony.

Florida gasoline retailers overwhelmingly complied with the requirements of the statute, despite the uncertainties of rapid price fluctuations in global oil prices. AAA provided comprehensive, accurate information on gasoline prices statewide.

Enacted by lawmakers to provide relief for Florida drivers from this year's sharp spike in gasoline prices, the gas tax cut reduced state and certain local gasoline taxes by 8 cents per gallon for the month of August. Florida gasoline prices peaked at more than $2 per gallon in June 2003, up from slightly above $1.50 per gallon for self-serve regular unleaded gasoline in late 2003.

The tax cut represented a tax reduction of $59.7 million, returning about one-third of affected state and local gasoline taxes to consumers. Complete data on fuel tax collections for August 2004 will be available in early October.

Florida lawmakers provided $58 million in non-recurring general revenue to the State Transportation Trust Fund to make up for the gas tax cut without cutting road maintenance or construction.

Florida collected about $194,368,000 in state and local tax on 690 million gallons of gasoline in August 2003. In June 2004, the most recent month for which complete gas tax receipts are available, monthly tax receipts were about $206,183,000 on 721 million gallons.

For more information about the gas tax holiday, please visit the Department of Revenue Internet site at www.myflorida.com/dor/.