The reduction in energy tax is already having an impact on fuel prices. Nevertheless, the government measure could flush a lot of money into the coffers of the oil companies, warns a leading economist.

The “economic wise man” Monika Schnitzer fears that mineral oil companies could make a significant profit from the fuel tax reduction despite falling prices at the gas stations.

“Based on past experience, especially with the 2020 VAT reduction, I think the risk is high,” said the economist of the “Augsburger Allgemeine” (Thursday). “Even if more of the tax cut is passed on as a percentage this time than two years ago, the additional profit for companies due to the incomplete transfer in absolute euro amounts can still be very high.”

According to their calculations, the mineral oil companies would have withheld 40 percent of the tax reduction from the VAT reduction in summer 2020, said the member of the German government’s Advisory Council. This time, however, the gas stations were under particularly close observation.

Already noticeable consequences?

On Wednesday, the tax burden on fuel was reduced by 35.2 cents per liter for premium petrol and 16.7 cents per liter for diesel. The measure should apply until the end of August. In this way, the federal government wants to relieve consumers in view of the recent sharp rise in energy prices. According to the ADAC, the tax relief has already had a noticeable impact on fuel prices.

Nevertheless, the mineral oil companies are under criticism – and under close observation. The Eastern Commissioner for the Left in the Bundestag, Sören Pellmann, told the editorial network Germany (RND, Thursday) that the companies had “again shamelessly” increased the fuel prices before the introduction of the tank discount. The Saarland Prime Minister Anke Rehlinger sees the cartel guards in the duty. “The Cartel Office has to take a close look at how much of the good tax money that we use to relieve citizens of fuel prices is illegally going into the pockets of the oil companies,” said the SPD politician to the RND.

The economist Achim Wambach, on the other hand, pointed out that the cartel office was “not an authority for price control”. However, a procedure will begin “if there are signs of abusive behavior,” said the head of the Center for European Economic Research (ZEW) of the “Rheinische Post” (Thursday). In the run-up to the tax cut, the cartel office had already assured that it would take a very close look at the development of fuel prices.

Wambach expects noticeable savings for consumers as a result of the tax cut. Studies have shown that 80 percent of the VAT reduction during the Corona crisis was passed on to diesel customers and 40 percent to petrol customers.