Soaring gas prices are hitting us and many of our friends and neighbors. In fact, most of us rely on gas to power our cars and we rely on our cars to get us where we need to go. Public transport in rural Maine is not an option for us. When gas prices go up, we don’t have the option of quitting or traveling to the pharmacy to avoid filling our gas tank, so we have little choice but to pay the price.
When times are tight and costs are high, it is more important than ever for us to ensure that customers are being treated fairly – not taking advantage of large firms looking to make a profit. There are many reasons why gas prices are so high right now – namely the Russian invasion of Ukraine – that gas companies are making record profits. In the first quarter of this year, Exxon Mobile, for example, reported a three-fold gain over the same period last year. When executives and investors are making big money, miners are tightening their purse strings, we need to stop and ask if other factors, such as greed, are at play.
That is why I and several of my colleagues in the Legislature formally wrote a letter requesting that Maine’s Attorney General Aaron Frey do everything in his power to investigate potential price increases from gas companies. Prices were a major problem in the early days of the epidemic, when producers charged more for goods such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Customers needed it and had no other choice. Governor Janet Mills and AG Frey worked to protect consumers and now I think they will do everything they can to protect consumers.
As part of the bipartisan supplementary budget we passed in April, the Legislature includes a direct solution to help increased gas costs for manors, but generally to deal with epidemic-driven inflation. The solution comes in the form of $ 850 checks for over 850,000 individuals and checks have already begun to arrive in mailboxes. If your check hasn’t arrived yet, don’t worry; They will continue to be mailed in batches in the coming weeks. Most people automatically qualify for these checks, because we wanted to get this help as quickly as possible to people.
To qualify, you must earn less than $ 100,000 in the tax year 2021 if you are a single filer, less than $ 150,000 if you file as head of household, and less than $ 200,000 if you file jointly as part of the couple. Whatever your source of income – salaries, social security, supplemental security income or whatever – you will be eligible until you meet these income guidelines.
The only step you need to take is to file your 2021 Maine personal income taxes by October 31 of this year. This means that even if you don’t make enough to file your taxes in most years, you should do it this year to get the check, but you have plenty of time. Help is also available if you need it. To find free, qualified help near you, dial 2-1-1 or visit www.cashmaine.org. If you have any other questions about the check, you can visit the online FAQ at www.maine.gov/governor/mills/relief-checks, call the Maine Revenue Services at (207) 624-9924 or contact me directly at time.
Now I know the time is hard. If I can help contact you with any resources, please do not hesitate to contact me. You can send me an email at [email protected], call my cell phone at (207) 200-6224 or text me or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ChloeForSenate. You can sign up for my regular e-newsletter by visiting www.mainesenate.org.