Don't Mess with the Gasoline Taxman

In the past couple of weeks, I've heard dozens of people criticize the Chinese for their latest move to slap export tariffs on thousands of items and reduce the export VAT rebate. But even these actions pale in comparison to the "big tax brother" approach of North Carolina when it comes to enforcing obscure -- and many would argue detrimental to society -- tax laws. Consider according to local news sources that a resident was "snagged with a $1,000 fine from the state and may be hit with another $1,000 fine from the federal government ... [for] filling his 1981 diesel Mercedes with vegetable oil from Costco." According to state law, "to start running the car legally on veggie oil, he will have to post a $2,500 bond ... although the state is trying to promote biofuel production and consumption, the state also wants to collect taxes on transportation fuel."

Now, I can't speak to how green vegetable oil is from a fuel burning perspective. But I did once own two diesel Mercedes of the similar era (a 1979 240D with 56 horsepower, and a 1983 300 "go ahead, drag race me" turbocharged variant which managed to break the 100 horsepower mark). And what I can tell you is both smoked more than the typical Ralph Nader supporter. In my view, anything to get these things off high sulfer diesel has got to be a good thing for the environment. Who knows what the logical extension of this is ... perhaps Austin Tetra, D&B, or CVM will soon offer a spend data enrichment field for "bio-diesel powered" fleets.

Jason Busch

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