Missouri State Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) announced today the Senate Committee on Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight will hold investigative hearings into possible enforcement over reach and excessive fines by the Missouri Department of Revenue in its off-road fuel tax enforcement program. Diesel fuel that is used for off-road purposes, such as construction and farming, is not subject to state or federal highway tax. To distinguish between the two fuels, red dye is added to the off-road diesel for identification purpose. Use of this type of diesel in vehicles driven on roads and highways is prohibited by law.
The probe comes about after testimony during the Senate Appropriations Committee revealed the department was conducting inspections on private property without probable cause that a violation had occurred. Senator Parson stated, “Actions such as these are an unreasonable intrusion of a person’s right to privacy. Pulling diesel from the fuel tank of a truck, or tanks on private property without due process, and targeting any group, such as farmers, is a form of profiling when there is no reason to believe there has been any wrong doing or violation.”
As information of this program has been reported on, other citizens are coming forward with their own stories of how it has been enforced. In one instance, an individual was found to have put several gallons of dyed diesel into a pickup truck. The individual was assessed a fine of more than $72,000. It was later reduced after questions arose on the enforcement practices of this agency.
“I want to make it clear that I support the law and believe violators should be held accountable for their actions. After all, it is the taxes paid on non-dyed highway fuel that funds the maintenance and construction of our roads and highways. What I do not support is the random sampling of certain types of vehicles or entering on private property or the assessment of fines that are clearly in excess of the violation committed,” said Sen. Parson.
Senator Parson urges anyone having information on this issue to contact his office in Jefferson City. He can be reached at 1-800-752-8256 or firstname.lastname@example.org.