Gas price stimulus checks proposals head to Congress

An electrical contractor repairs a sign with gasoline fuel prices above six and seven dollars a gallon at the Shell gas station at Fairfax and Olympic Blvd in Los Angeles, California, on March 8, 2022. (Photo by Patrick T. FALLON / AFP) (Photo by PAT

With Americans still in shock over jaw-dropping, rising gas prices, a few proposals have floated around Congress and elsewhere about offering some relief to drivers. 

Los Angeles on Tuesday became the first major city in the U.S. to reach an average gas price of $6 or more. That's according to fuel savings platform GasBuddy, which reported the national average gas price in the U.S. beginning to decline since its peak of $4.35 per gallon on March 10. 

Some proposals include a stimulus check while others would tax oil companies. 

Americans could get a $100 per month energy rebate

One proposal comes from Reps. Mike Thompson of California, John Larson of Connecticut, and Lauren Underwood of Illinois. 

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The congressional lawmakers propose the Gas Rebate Act of 2022 where Americans would get an energy rebate of $100 per month (and $100 for each dependent) for the rest of 2022 in any month where the national average gas prices exceed $4.00 per gallon.

"Americans are feeling the impact at the pump of Vladimir Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, and right now we must work together on commonsense policy solutions to ease the financial burden that my constituents are feeling," Thompson said in a news release. "The Putin Price Hike is putting strain on our economy, and I am proud to be working with Reps. Larson and Underwood to introduce this legislation to provide middle-class Americans with monthly payments to ease the financial burden of this global crises."

The rebate follows the same phaseout as the most recent Economic Impact Payments (EIPs) where $100 will be given for single filers earning less than $75,000 and phased out to $80,000. The other part includes $100 for joint filers more than $150,000 and phased out at $160,000.

Oil companies could fund tax credit for Americans

Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon has proposed the Stop Gas Price Gouging Tax and Rebate Act. The bill "would create a windfall profit tax on excessive corporate profits and return the revenue to American consumers in the form of a tax rebate."

"Big Oil is foaming at the mouth," said Rep. DeFazio. "After price-gouging Americans in 2021 to make record profits, Big Oil is now reaping the benefits of [President Vladimir] Putin’s price hike."

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"My legislation would tax Big Oil’s excess profits in 2022 and return the revenue back to Americans. It’s beyond time to put people over profits – period," he continued. 

Under his proposal, companies 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. Revenue, raised by the windfall profit tax, will be returned to consumers as a monthly, advanced, and refundable tax credit that will be phased out by income, according to DeFazio. 

He said eligibility is identical to criteria used for economic impact ("stimulus") payments that were included in the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

Other relief measures being proposed outside Washington

In California, Democratic state lawmakers announced a $400 gas rebate proposal for every taxpayer. The proposal would use $9 billion of the state's budget surplus to provide the rebate, which is expected to cover the 51.1-cent-per-gallon gas tax for one full year of weekly fill-ups for a car with a 15-gallon gas tank.

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According to WWLP, Governor Ned Lamont of Connecticut has called for a holiday from the state’s 25 cent-per-gallon gas tax, starting as soon as possible, and lasting through the end of June. However, state lawmakers say the proposal is political theater, and said they are looking for other ways to give people a financial break.

Governor Janet Mills of Maine has proposed increasing the state’s relief checks for residents to $850 in the face of record-high inflation and rising oil and gas prices.

"Inflation and increased oil and gas prices resulting from Putin’s invasion of Ukraine are hitting Maine people hard. This proposal will help Maine people grapple with these increased costs by putting money directly back into their pockets," Mills said.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.