During the first eight months of 2008, agents for the Department of
Revenue's Bureau of Criminal Investigation have already caught 117
trucks using untaxed diesel fuel for highway use. Agents caught 111
trucks with untaxed diesel fuel in all of 2007 and only 46 trucks in
"Our stepped-up enforcement is a matter of simple fairness,"
said Department of Revenue Director Brian Hamer. "The motor fuel
taxes being evaded pay for the very roads these trucks use. Honest
truckers who pay the tax want to know we are pursuing those who do
Drivers offer a variety of excuses after being caught with the
untaxed diesel fuel. Drivers usually blame others, such as an
employee or the fuel delivery person. Drivers frequently say they
have absolutely no idea how the untaxed fuel found its way into
their fuel tank, even though they own the vehicle and nobody else
On occasion a driver will readily admit the use of the tax-free
fuel to save money:
When stopped by
agents near Cairo for a fuel inspection recently, the driver
just lowered his head and stated, "I'm as guilty as a
Just prior to a
fuel inspection near Bloomington, another driver told an agent,
"I'll save you the trouble; I've got dyed fuel in my truck."
After the inspection, which confirmed untaxed fuel, the driver
told the agent, "See, I told you so."
The owner of a trucking business in
Chicago was recently caught with dyed fuel in two of his semi
trucks. When questioned about where he got the dyed fuel, the
owner finally admitted he siphoned the dyed fuel from his
neighbor's bulk fuel storage tank.
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Diesel fuel that is to be used for off-road purposes only must
contain a red dye and is not subject to U.S. and Illinois motor fuel
taxes of 45 cents per gallon. A licensed motor vehicle operating on
the highway cannot use dyed (untaxed) diesel fuel. Examples of
diesel-powered equipment that may legally use dyed diesel fuel are
agriculture field equipment, bulldozers, backhoes, graders,
industrial forklifts, generators and commercial marine equipment.
The Department of Revenue enforces the dyed diesel law by
stopping vehicles on the highway and testing for the presence of the
red dye in their fuel. The first-time penalty for use of dyed diesel
on the highway is $2,500 and subsequent penalties are $5,000. There
are also criminal penalties.
Since 2000, the Department of Revenue's Bureau of Criminal
Investigation has been conducting special enforcement details
throughout the state on fuel tax evasion. However, enforcement
efforts are being increased due to the significant increase in motor
fuel tax evasion. Thus far in 2008, special enforcement details have
been conducted throughout Chicago, the Metro-East St. Louis area,
southeastern Illinois, southern Illinois and the Quad Cities area.
Investigators plan to travel to every county in the state to ensure
equal and fair enforcement.
Department of Revenue file received from
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]