Before the reduction in fuel tax, some postpone refueling as far as possible – but is that a good idea? What to expect on Wednesday and why.
From Wednesday, taxes on fuel will fall sharply. But many drivers could be disappointed by the fuel prices in the morning. What to expect.
The tax relief
From Wednesday to the end of August, the tax burden on fuel will drop by 35.2 cents per liter for premium petrol and by 16.7 cents per liter for diesel. Both values include VAT and are the maximum possible in this way for reasons of European law. The tax cut is valid for three months and is intended to relieve drivers in view of the extremely high fuel prices.
The origin of the price at the pump
Gas station operators and mineral oil companies determine how much the fuel costs at the gas station. You are under no obligation to pass on the tax cut.
Nobody knows exactly what happens in the middle of Wednesday night. However, a nationwide complete price reduction is unlikely. The tax reduction applies to the purchase of fuel from refineries and tank farms. So even what was delivered on Tuesday evening still includes the normal – higher – tax. This poses a dilemma for gas stations and mineral oil companies, because many customers expect prices to fall immediately. As a result, there could be a delayed fall in the price. The Ministry of Finance also pointed out again on Monday that refueling may only gradually become cheaper.
Some of the drivers have largely run their tanks dry in order to be able to benefit as much as possible from the tax reduction. It is difficult to predict whether this will lead to a rush to gas stations on Wednesday or just increased demand. “We expect higher demand at the beginning of June, but no “run” on the gas stations,” says Aral, for example. At Shell you can see an “expected higher demand”.
The demand for fuel in the past few days also speaks against a “run”. Both Aral and the Fuels and Energy trade association (en2x) report relatively normal developments. If the majority of drivers had emptied their tanks to the reserve, this should actually have been reflected in falling demand.
On the other hand, Günter Friedl, Vice President of the Association of Motor Vehicle Trades in Bavaria, who is responsible for filling stations, says: “It can be seen that many drivers are currently filling up less.” This shows that many were waiting for the tax cut to really fill up again. Friedl therefore expects vacancies at gas stations: “The capacities will not be sufficient for June 1st to have enough cheap fuel there.”
Gas station inventories
The fact that gas stations can only buy tax-reduced fuel from Wednesday makes it unattractive for them to fill up their stores again in advance. Therefore, there are fears that there could be supply bottlenecks. Even mineral oil companies do not rule this out.
A contributing factor is that the logistics capacities for supplying the gas stations are already tight, as Shell says, for example. However, the company assures: “For our part, we are trying to ensure the supply of all gas stations in the best possible way. We warned hauliers early on that as part of the tax cut we will be requesting the maximum number of drivers available under our contracts.” At Aral, it is said that they have “prepared and the logistics chains are robust”.
The prices in advance of the tax cut
The price of super petrol has been rising again for a few weeks. Recently, the price of diesel has also increased. The ADAC criticizes both as too high. However, Germany is not alone with the price development in a European comparison. In most EU countries, E5 premium petrol has become even more expensive in recent weeks than in Germany. However, the Federal Cartel Office also said on Tuesday: “We have been seeing a decoupling of crude oil prices and refinery and gas station prices for months.”
Super E10 cost 2.133 euros per liter on a nationwide daily average on Monday. Diesel cost 2.029 euros. If the tax reduction were passed on in full – and without further price fluctuations – the fuel price would be around 1.86 euros for diesel and around 1.78 for E10. For the reasons given, it is unclear whether these values will be achieved. However, both the Federal Cartel Office and the ADAC have already announced that they will monitor developments closely. However, the Federal Cartel Office also emphasized that it cannot simply ban high prices.
The political assessment
There is everything from praise to fundamental criticism: Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP), for example, wrote on Twitter on Monday: “We do not leave the people who depend on the car alone.” Greenpeace, on the other hand, criticized: “The party that always wants to shape climate protection in a market economy panics at the first price signal and intervenes in the market with the tank discount worth billions.”
The cartel office is paying attention
The Bundeskartellamt wants to take a very close look at the development of fuel prices in connection with the energy tax cut. Monitoring had been “intensified again,” said President Andreas Mundt on Tuesday. “Even if there is no legal obligation to pass on the tax cut one-to-one, the mineral oil companies are acting under the “burning glass” of the Federal Cartel Office.”
However, Mundt also emphasized: “As a competition authority, we cannot simply ban high, even very high, prices.” They could also arise in competition. So far there is no evidence of anti-trust behavior that could be punished with high fines.