After multiple failed attempts at the polls, two things happened to grease the wheels for the first increase in Missouri’s gas tax since the 1990s.

One was a decision to raise the tax by 2.5 cents a year for five years. This allows for an increase that was incremental enough to fall under the state’s Hancock limit. Otherwise, a public vote would be required, and we all know how those turn out.

Missouri lawmakers, in debating the issue, found one other element that made the increase more palatable to legislators and the taxpaying public. This tax contains a rebate mechanism, a feature that allows Missourians to claim a refund on the new portion of the tax.

Missouri has long needed to do something about the condition of its highways and bridges, so this was a price worth paying, especially since an in-state rebate increases the burden on out-of-state taxpayers in funding road improvements. It’s the same dynamic that makes a hotel-motel tax attractive in many cities.

To some extent, officials might be relying on human nature in agreeing to include a rebate. Many people are unorganized and don’t keep good records, two traits that will make it impossible to claim the rebate.

Some may decide that it’s not worth the hassle. At 2.5 cents in the first year, someone who buys 10 gallons a week would be due to get $1 a month. From Oct. 1 to June 20, when this particular rebate applies, that would come to about $9.

For some, that’s not a big return. For others, especially businesses with fleet vehicles or people who commute to and from Kansas City, it could add up. Plus, there’s a principle involved, especially with the price of gasoline nearing $3 a gallon.

We not only encourage the public to take advantage of this unique feature, but we also urge the Department of Revenue to make this process as simple as possible for those who wish to claim a rebate. Information on the rebate can be found by clicking on the “taxation” button on the department’s website,

The department will develop a system for electronically filing a claim but hasn’t unveiled it. We know that the taxpayer will need to provide the department with a vehicle identification number, the date of purchase, the name and address of the seller and purchaser and the number of gallons purchased.

These are reasonable requests. What would be unreasonable is a system that’s hard to decipher and even harder to find on the DOR website.

The rebate is there for a reason. The state needs to make it work, and the public should participate. The organized recordkeepers won’t inherit the earth, but they will get a small amount back from the state.