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 Comments
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Trouble
Trouble
10 years ago

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.

ML local
ML local
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Alice Suszynski
Alice Suszynski
10 years ago
Reply to  ML local

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.

Mammoth Resident
Mammoth Resident
10 years ago

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

Nes Lessman
Nes Lessman
10 years ago

I smell a rate hike coming!!

upthecreek
upthecreek
10 years ago

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… Read more »

Alice Suszynski
Alice Suszynski
10 years ago
Reply to  upthecreek

“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.

Tiki Traveler
Tiki Traveler
10 years ago

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!

hisierragal
hisierragal
10 years ago

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.

johndoeml
johndoeml
10 years ago

Anyone else had luck getting the taxes back?

Alice Suszynski
Alice Suszynski
10 years ago
Reply to  johndoeml

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… Read more »

Tim Fesko
Tim Fesko
10 years ago

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!

andrew
andrew
10 years ago

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
Benett Kessler
10 years ago
Reply to  andrew

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

Tom Sigler
Tom Sigler
10 years ago
Reply to  Benett Kessler

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… Read more »

Benett Kessler
Benett Kessler
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Sigler

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

Catch 22
Catch 22
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Sigler

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
Alice Suszynski
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Sigler

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… Read more »

Alice Suszynski
Alice Suszynski
10 years ago

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
Ken Warner
10 years ago

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
Alice Suszynski
10 years ago

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
Tim Fesko
10 years ago
Reply to  Tom Sigler

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,… Read more »

Tony Dublino
Tony Dublino
10 years ago

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

Catch 22
Catch 22
10 years ago

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.