A-19000, JULY 9, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 21

A-19000: Jul 9, 1927

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THE MATTER OF REFUND OF THE TAX SO PAID IS FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED AND NOT THE EMPLOYEE. REIMBURSEMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF TAX ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN PAID BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT ON GASOLINE PURCHASED FOR AUTHORIZED USE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN A STATE WHERE. NO TAX IS COLLECTED UPON LIQUID FUEL SOLD OR DELIVERED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR ACTUAL CONSUMPTION IN THE BUSINESS OF SAID GOVERNMENT. IS NOT AUTHORIZED. 1927: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 20. TO HAVE A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE. THE EMPLOYEE WAS DIRECTED BY TELEGRAM TO DRIVE FROM LAMPASAS. PENNSYLVANIA THERE IS A STATE TAX ON GASOLINE. WHICH IS REFUNDABLE TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AFTER CERTAIN CONDITIONS HAVE BEEN COMPLIED WITH.

A-19000, JULY 9, 1927, 7 COMP. GEN. 21

TAXES, STATE - GASOLINE PURCHASES WHERE AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT PURCHASED GASOLINE FOR AUTHORIZED USE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN A STATE THAT IMPOSES A TAX UPON THE DEALER OR DISTRIBUTER, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MAY REIMBURSE HIM FOR THE FULL AMOUNT PAID INCLUSIVE OF THE TAX. THE MATTER OF REFUND OF THE TAX SO PAID IS FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED AND NOT THE EMPLOYEE. REIMBURSEMENT OF THE AMOUNT OF TAX ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN PAID BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE GOVERNMENT ON GASOLINE PURCHASED FOR AUTHORIZED USE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN A STATE WHERE, UNDER PRESENT PRACTICE, NO TAX IS COLLECTED UPON LIQUID FUEL SOLD OR DELIVERED TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR ACTUAL CONSUMPTION IN THE BUSINESS OF SAID GOVERNMENT, IS NOT AUTHORIZED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, JULY 9, 1927:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF JUNE 20, 1927, AS FOLLOWS:

THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY OF THIS DEPARTMENT RECENTLY FOUND IT NECESSARY, IN AN EMERGENCY, TO HAVE A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE, A FOREMAN HAND OF SOME EXPERIENCE, DRIVE A TRUCK FROM TEXAS TO MARYLAND. THE NECESSITY OF THIS TRIP AROSE SUDDENLY, AND THE EMPLOYEE WAS DIRECTED BY TELEGRAM TO DRIVE FROM LAMPASAS, TEXAS, TO MARYLAND. EN ROUTE THE TRUCK TRAVERSED THE STATES OF TEXAS, OKLAHOMA, MISSOURI, ILLINOIS, INDIANA, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, AND MARYLAND. IN MISSOURI, INDIANA, OHIO, AND PENNSYLVANIA THERE IS A STATE TAX ON GASOLINE, WHICH IS REFUNDABLE TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AFTER CERTAIN CONDITIONS HAVE BEEN COMPLIED WITH, AMONG WHICH IS THE SECURING FROM THE RESPECTIVE SECRETARIES OF STATE OF THE NECESSARY BLANKS FOR FILING APPLICATION FOR REFUND OF SAID TAX. IN THE EMERGENCY IN QUESTION NEITHER THE EMPLOYEE NOR THE OFFICE OF THE COAST AND GEODETIC SURVEY IN WASHINGTON HAD TIME TO SECURE THE NECESSARY BLANKS, AND IN PURCHASING GAS IN THOSE FOUR STATES A TOTAL TAX OF $1.45 WAS PAID, AS FOLLOWS: MISSOURI, 50 CENTS; INDIANA, 45 CENTS; OHIO, 20 CENTS; AND PENNSYLVANIA, 30 CENTS.

IN EMERGENCIES SUCH AS THAT ABOVE REFERRED TO, WOULD THE PAYMENT OF THE STATE GASOLINE TAX BE A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT, WHERE THE AMOUNT INVOLVED IS SO SMALL AND THE TIME OF THE GOVERNMENT AGENT SO LIMITED?

IF, UNDER THE ABOVE CIRCUMSTANCES, THE TAX IS NOT A PROPER CHARGE AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT, IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT THE FOREMAN HAND IN THIS CASE WAS A TEMPORARY EMPLOYEE ACTING UNDER DIRECT ORDERS FROM WASHINGTON, WHO WOULD BE THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PAYMENT OF SAID TAX?

CIRCUMSTANCES SUCH AS THOSE OUTLINED ABOVE ARE OF FREQUENT OCCURRENCE IN THIS DEPARTMENT AND IN SUCH CASES IT IS PRACTICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SECURE THE PROPER BLANKS FROM THE STATE AUTHORITIES IN TIME TO PERMIT OF THEIR USE WHEN NEEDED, AND YOUR DECISION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED AS TO THE PROPER PROCEDURE TO BE FOLLOWED IN FUTURE.

THE QUESTION PRESENTED APPEARS TO INVOLVE REIMBURSEMENT TO AN EMPLOYEE FOR THE AMOUNT OF STATE TAX ON GASOLINE PURCHASED WHILE IN A TRAVEL STATUS FOR USE IN A GOVERNMENT CONVEYANCE. IN CONSIDERING A SIMILAR QUESTION IT WAS HELD IN DECISION OF THIS OFFICE DATED APRIL 9, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 660, QUOTING FROM THE SYLLABUS, THAT:

WHERE A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE PURCHASED GASOLINE FOR AUTHORIZED USE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN A STATE THAT IMPOSES A TAX UPON THE DISTRIBUTER, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MAY REIMBURSE HIM FOR THE FULL AMOUNT PAID INCLUSIVE OF THE TAX AND CLAIM FOR REFUND OF THE TAX MAY THEN BE MADE BY THE ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICE, AND WHEN REFUNDED SUCH AMOUNT SHOULD BE DEPOSITED AND COVERED INTO THE TREASURY TO THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION UNDER WHICH THE REIMBURSEMENT WAS MADE.

A REFERENCE TO THE GASOLINE TAX LAWS OF THE STATES OF MISSOURI, INDIANA, AND OHIO DISCLOSES THAT THE TAX IS IMPOSED ON THE DEALER OR DISTRIBUTER IN EACH INSTANCE. THEREFORE, IF IT WAS NECESSARY FOR THE EMPLOYEE TO PAY THE AMOUNT OF THE TAX ON GASOLINE PURCHASED BY HIM FOR USE IN A GOVERNMENT- OWNED AUTOMOBILE WHILE ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS REIMBURSEMENT OF THE PURCHASE PRICE INCLUDING THE AMOUNT OF THE TAX IS AUTHORIZED. SEE 5 COMP. GEN. 1022, 6 ID. 660. HOWEVER, THERE APPEARS NO VALID REASON WHY APPLICATION FOR REFUND OF THE TAX SHOULD NOT BE MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT, IF PROVISION IS MADE IN THE STATE STATUTE FOR SUCH REFUND, AND WITHIN THE TIME LIMIT PRESCRIBED BY THE STATE STATUTE, WHICH TIME IT IS UNDERSTOOD IS NOT LESS THAN 90 DAYS IN ANY STATE WHOSE LAWS PROVIDE FOR REFUND. THE MATTER OF REFUND IN SUCH CASES IS FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE DEPARTMENT CONCERNED AND NOT THE EMPLOYEE.

WITH REFERENCE TO THE REIMBURSEMENT TO THE EMPLOYEE OF THE AMOUNT OF STATE GASOLINE TAX PAID BY HIM ON GASOLINE PURCHASED IN THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, IT APPEARS THAT UNDER THE PRESENT PRACTICE ESTABLISHED UNDER THE PENNSYLVANIA STATUTE NO TAX IS COLLECTED UPON LIQUID FUELS SOLD OR DELIVERED THE COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA OR THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FOR ACTUAL CONSUMPTION IN THE BUSINESS OF SAID GOVERNMENTS, PROVIDED THAT THE DEALER SHALL PROCURE FROM THE PURCHASER A CERTIFICATE OF EXEMPTION AS PRESCRIBED BY THE AUDITOR GENERAL AND FORWARD THE SAME TO THE AUDITOR GENERAL AT THE TIME OF MAKING REPORT. SEE 1 COMP. GEN. 229, 230.

THE UNITED STATES BEING EXEMPTED FROM THE PAYMENT OF TAX ON GASOLINE PURCHASED IN THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT ENTITLED TO REIMBURSEMENT FOR THE AMOUNT OF THE TAX ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN PAID BY HIM IN CONNECTION WITH THE PURCHASE OF GASOLINE IN THE SAID STATE.