Progress Doesn’t Pay
North Carolina fines driver for not paying taxes on vegetable-oil fuel
A kerfuffle in North Carolina shows what might be in store for users of DIY fuel: the state fined a veggie-oil-burning driver $1,000 for not paying fuel taxes, told him to expect a $1,000 fine from the feds, and informed him that he’d have to post a $2,500 bond to be allowed to use veggie oil. “With the high cost of fuel right now, the [Department of Revenue] does recognize that a lot of people are looking for relief,” says state taxman Reggie Little. “We’re not here to hurt the small guy, we’re just trying to make sure that the playing field is level.” And by “make sure that the playing field is level,” we’re pretty sure he means make sure home-brewers still pay into the $1.2 billion in annual revenue the state gets from fuel taxes. “If somebody was going to go to this much trouble to drive around in a car that uses soybean oil, they ought to be exempt” from such taxes, said a state senator and fellow fry-oil fan. Other states are facing similar dilemmas. Welcome to our brave new world.