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Money questions: Gas prices mean efficient errands

We asked

How high do gas prices have to go before you'll cut back on your driving?

I only drive about 50 miles a week. I would feel $100 a gallon gas, but not $4.

Howard Harris, Tampa

We pay more attention to making our shopping/errand runs efficient to avoid waste, but we won't be cutting back in general, even at $5 a gallon.

Peter Ford, Tierra Verde

We are fortunate in Sun City Center that we can use our golf cart for most local trips. We are using it more and I see many more on the road than in the past. Our trips to Brandon Mall are mostly on public transit.

Warren Carson, Sun City

I try to do errands all in one place and time trips to coincide with other errands. I am also seriously considering a hybrid for my next vehicle.

Jerilyn Stein, Largo

We already have cut our driving 20 to 25 percent. We combine car trips and make several stops each time we go out.

Bill Murphy, Sun City

Local driving is necessary, but we have already cut back on several day trips and Florida driving vacations. We are enjoying the Suncoast instead.

Bruce Hurwitz, Lutz

I now turn off the engine if I'm at a light or other situation that will cause the engine to idle more than a minute.

Steve Weiss, Tampa

We will probably take our second car off the road for a few months.

Jack Keefe, St. Petersburg

You asked

I feel that I was cheated by the state of Florida. I agreed to pay $19,000 for a Mazda. When the dealer presented the invoice, the sales tax was calculated on $22,000 and then a "rebate" of $3,000 was deducted from the price. I protested, but the dealer insisted it was required by the state. A cash rebate was not discussed or offered. I felt it was a price adjustment or discount. The state is collecting tax on fictitious prices. I don't know if fraud is the correct term, but it sure is unfair. What do you think?

I see your point, but there wasn't any fraud. Florida sales tax is based on the amount received by the seller. In this case, the dealer received $19,000 from you and $3,000 from the manufacturer for a total of $22,000. "The tax is due on that amount because that's what the dealer received," said Mark Zych, director of technical assistance for the Florida Department of Revenue.

The same principle applies at the grocery store. If you use a manufacturer's coupon, you'll pay tax on the precoupon price because the retailer collects from you and the manufacturer. If you use the store's coupon, the tax is on the after-coupon price.

Next week's question

Will you spend more or less on vacation than you did last year?

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Or to make a comment or answer the Money Question of Week, e-mail hhuntley@sptimes.com or write Helen Huntley, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Visit her MoneyTalk blog (blogs.tampabay.com/money) for more money information.

Money questions: Gas prices mean efficient errands 03/29/08 [Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2008 6:04am]

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