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Florida Motorists Claim Some Gas Stations Fail To Pass Along Tax Break

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The opening days of Florida's month-long gasoline tax break were accompanied by complaints that the 8-cent-per-gallon cut wasn't being passed on to motorists, a state official said Monday, according to Miami's

But with about 11,000 gas stations in the state, a few dozen complaints aren't bad, said Attorney General Charlie Crist. "Our initial point of view is that we're very pleased and we think the consumers are too," Crist said.

He said his office has received about 113 calls and online contacts but only about 77 were complaints. The others were requests for details about the tax cut.

The tax break began Sunday and will last through the month of August. Any Florida business that sells gasoline, from wholesalers to mom-and-pop stores, faces a third-degree felony charge punishable by up to five years in jail if it fails to pass along the tax break to consumers.

The tax break should save drivers about $60 million, according to state estimates. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Florida on Friday was near $1.93, according to a daily survey by AAA. Kevin Bakewell, vice president of AAA, said the first data on post-tax break prices wouldn't be available until midweek.

Crist spokeswoman JoAnn Carrin said staff is reviewing the complaints, looking for patterns, and after prioritizing would begin checking them out. The attorney general's economic crimes division plans to conduct spot checks of the state's 400 gasoline wholesalers to verify that their invoices reflect the decrease.
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