From the BOAT/U.S. Newswire, 3/30/94: A spokesman for the nation's largest
organization of recreational boaters has told the Internal Revenue Service
(IRS) that regulations issued by the agency to collect a 20.1 cents per gallon
federal tax on diesel fuel used only by recreational boats are responsible for
growing fuel shortages that pose a serious threat to boating safety.
The regulations require recreational boaters to buy clear, or "taxed" diesel
fuel and allow commercial boat operators to purchase blue-dyed, or "non-taxed"
fuel. The effect of the regulations is to force retailers with only one tank
and pump to choose between selling clear fuel to recreational boaters or
blue-dyed fuel to commercial vessels. Since commercial vessels use much more
diesel fuel, retailers are choosing to service only these customers.
Testifying at an IRS hearing in Washington, DC on March 22, Michael Sciulla,
Vice President of Government Affairs for 485,000-member BOAT/U.S. (Boat Owners
Association of The United States) said that even though the recreational
boating season has not yet begun in most parts of the country, BOAT/U.S. has
already received numerous reports from boaters that clear fuel is either
difficult to obtain or unavailable. "From New England to Florida, to the Gulf
Coast and California, recreational boat owners needing diesel fuel have
actually been turned away by some fuel retailers," Sciulla said. "This is not
simply a matter of inconvenience. It is a major marine safety issue."
On the nation's highways, diesel fuel is widely available, but diesel fuel
pumps on the waterways may be located hours, if not days, apart. "The owner of
a truck or automobile running out of diesel fuel may lose some time. The
skipper of a boat running out of fuel in bad weather conditions or at night can
lose his life," Sciulla said. "The government must find a way to resolve this
matter immediately, before the boating season begins in earnest."
BOAT/U.S. believes the simplest solution to the problem would be to allow a
marine fuel retailer to sell any type of fuel to a recreational boat owner. If
"untaxed" blue-dyed fuel is sold, the retailer would collect the appropriate
tax from the recreational boater and turn it over to the IRS.
BOAT/U.S. would like to hear from boaters who have experienced difficulty
obtaining diesel fuel due to the IRS regulations. Please be as specific as