Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Materials Tax Initiative, Question 4 (1992)

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The Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Materials Tax Initiative, also known as Question , was a citizen initiative on the November 3, 1992 ballot in Massachusetts, where it was defeated.

The initiative sought to place a new tax on oil and hazardous materials in order to create a fund to assess and clean up sites that have been or may be contaminated oil and hazardous materials.

Election results

Question 4 (Oil and Hazardous Materials Tax)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,485,45152.6%
Yes 1,051,046 37.2%

Official results via: The Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth

Text of measure

The proposed law would impose an excise tax on oil, toxic chemicals, and other hazardous substances, and would direct that the money raised, along with the fees paid by hazardous waste transporters and specific revenues under other state laws, be deposited in the state Environmental Challenge Fund. Money in the Fund would be used, subject to legislative appropriation, to assess and clean up sites that have been or may be contaminated by oil or hazardous materials, and to carry out and enforce the excise.

As of July 1, 1993, the excise would apply to persons, businesses, and other entities possessing 50,000 pounds or more of oil and toxic chemicals covered by the proposed law. Toxic chemicals would be covered if classified as toxic by the federal Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) under federal law. As of July 1, 1994, substances listed as hazardous by the EPA under federal law would also become subject to the excise.

Until June 30, 1995, the excise would be two-tenths of one cent ($0.002) per pound. In later years, the state Commissioner of Revenue would set the excise rate at a level, not to exceed two-tenths of one cent per pound, sufficient to yield $35 million annually in 1995 dollars.

The excise would not apply to gasoline or other special engine fuels, jet fuel taxed under other state law, numbers 1 or 2 fuel oil, kerosene, animal or vegetable oil, or waste oil classified as hazardous waste under other state law. Nor would the excise apply to oils, toxic chemicals, or hazardous substances merely being shipped through Massachusetts; or contained in a consumer product intended for retail sale; or present in a mixture at a concentration of less than one percent; or present in hazardous waste being transported by a licensed hazardous waste transporter who had paid or will pay a transporter fee under state law; or for which the excise tax has already been paid under the proposed law and which have not been reprocessed or recycled since payment of the excise.

The excise also would not apply to oils, toxic chemicals, or hazardous substances that are possessed by individuals for persona, non-business purposes; or are contained in vehicles or vessels intended to be used for normal purposes; or are produced in Massachusetts as a by-product of pollution control equipment or the clean-up of hazardous materials and are handled in compliance with federal and state environmental laws. Finally, the excise would not apply to toxic chemicals or hazardous substances in a manufactured product the use of which requires a specific shape or design and which does not release toxic substances under normal use.

Under the proposed law, the excise would ordinarily be collected from the first person or business within Massachusetts to come into possession of materials subject to the tax. If that person or business had not paid the excise a later possessor could be required to pay the excise and could then recover a corresponding amount from the first possessor. The proposed law would provide credits for excises paid on materials that become ingredients in the manufacture of other materials subject to the tax, and it would provide credits for similar excises or taxes paid to other states.

Persons possessing more than 25,000 pounds of materials subject to the excise in any six-month period would be required to obtain a license from the Commissioner of Revenue. The Commissioner could issue regulations establishing record-keeping and report requirements for persons possessing such materials. The Commissioner would collect the excise through procedures similar to those for other state taxes and could issue regulations to implement the proposed law.

The proposed law states that if any of its provisions were declared invalid, the other provisions would remain in effect.[1]

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