New Year’s Resolutions for the Motor Fuel Tax Professional

‘Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions!  Here are a few ideas on resolutions you can make as a motor fuel tax professional.

Identify Your Next Two Career Goals: I had a boss once tell me that knowing my next career goal was not enough and that I needed to be thinking about the move after next. Why?  Because he wanted to ensure I had the right tools and training to get me to my goal.  As a tax professional, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day.  To move forward, we need to take some time to analyze our next professional steps.  What do you want to learn and how will it help you achieve your career goals?  Being clear about your ambitions and what it will take to get there is a great exercise to start the new year.

Identify a skill to strengthen or a skill to explore: To evolve in a career, we must continue to learn and grow. Get out of your comfort zone and explore a skill set that could help improve your work environment.  Some ideas include more public speaking opportunities, learning advanced skills in Excel, or learning about another department within your organization.  There are many online resources available from renowned universities or websites like

Analyze a Process for Improvement: Ever complete a task and ask, “why is this the way we do this?”. Many times, the answer is “because we’ve always done it this way.” Make time to explore a process and see how it can be improved.

Utilize Tools that Make Your Job Better: Finding tools and technologies that can help automate some of your job functions can allow you the time to focus on other aspects of your job. IGEN provides a configurable software solution that accurately produces motor fuel tax schedules with just a few clicks. Data can be configured from multiple data sources, which reduces errors and gives a more accurate report.   Explore our website to learn more about IGEN or connect with one of our friendly business development professionals.

A Spotlight on Fuel Pipelines: Issues and What Tax Analysts Can Control

The backbone of the American fuel supply system is its maze-like system of fuel pipelines. We depend on pipelines to move massive amounts of fuel from one storage facility to another (known as terminals) in a quick and safe fashion. But with the aged condition of this system and intricacies of its mechanics, it is becoming more and more difficult to keep it running smoothly and safely. The past few years have seen some major pipelines in the news with the Keystone Pipeline Project and the Westshore Pipeline in Wisconsin in the forefront.

The average consumer rarely thinks about pipelines, but they play an important role in our daily lives. Each year, more than 3.4 billion barrels of fuel (that’s almost 143 billion gallons!) travel through our pipeline system in a safe and contained manner. Pipelines can be buried, installed above ground, or co-exist with other infrastructures to provide for the fuel needs of our ever-expanding economy and consumption. For the most part, this is all completed in a safe and timely manner. They have fewer accident rates than rail, tanker or truck transport and since most of the process is far more automated than other forms of transportation, this means less risk to human life and error.

The pipeline system also helps us gain access and distribution of our own and neighboring countries fuel deposits. This allows us to become more independent from importing overseas’ oil.
The biggest issues with pipelines involve when they leak or are taken out of commission because they have such a huge impact for the consumer and individuals working in the fuel distribution industry. If suddenly 50 percent of all the gas stations in an area closed or had restricted supplies, our daily lives and activities would be greatly affected.

When there is a closure to a pipeline system, our clients need to adjust their reporting practices to adjust to the changes in fuel logistics. To help alleviate the stress associated with a pipeline closure (whether temporary or permanent), we recommend organizations keep their licenses up to date. Understanding the business’ current licensing status will allow organizations to make informed decisions about where they can divert or acquire resources.

In addition, motor fuel distributors should understand what contingency plans are in place if a pipeline source should be shut down. Will you utilize rail or trucking? Will you start stockpiling inventory in bulk facilities? These questions and others should be answered prior to any closure event. Tax reporting professionals should connect with their organization’s operations team for guidance.

Fortunately, technology is being used to help identify issues before they become major with the advent of the Pipeline Inspection Gauges or “Smart Pigs”. These inspection tools provide data about the safety conditions of the pipeline and can be used in both active and non-active transport lines. The technology is like a MRI where the device emits waves to determine the thickness of the pipeline and create an image showing any cracks, fissures or erosion issues. The basic concept of a pig has been in the industry for many years, but the advancement of imaging has given pipeline operators a new tool to maintain the integrity of the lines.

These technology advancements and coordination with US agencies on a systematic approach of ensuring our pipelines infrastructure and plans to replace current aging systems will become more and more important as time goes on.

One thing is for certain. The use of pipeline transportation will not erode anytime soon, so it is our responsibility to educate our consumers about why we use it, how we react to changes in the process, and how we will maintain it going forward.

Now What? Westshore Pipeline Closure Brings Many Questions for Petroleum

In April 2016, Westshore Pipeline announced the permanent closure of more than 100 miles of pipe in Northern Illinois and Wisconsin. The abrupt closure occurred after inspectors found “unique conditions that require additional inspections and analysis”, and this was after Westshore already invested in a significant amount of pipe replacement.

With the northern most point of the closure just minutes from the IGen office, our staff has had a unique perspective about its impact and follows the pipeline updates. This situation highlights many questions and challenges for the industry including how do we address an aging infrastructure, what alternatives are most efficient for petroleum transport, and how do we balance economics needs with environmental concerns.

Pipeline transport continues to be the most efficient and cost-effective means of petroleum transport in the United States. But like roads, bridges and railways, the pipeline system is aging. The closed section of Westshore Pipeline was installed more than 50 years ago and has undergone maintenance throughout its lifetime. If an organization decides to repair or replace aging lines, it is now under regulatory standards that are drastically different than when the pipeline was first installed. In addition, pipelines that were once laid in non-populated areas now may be part of residential districts as area communities continue to grow.

Currently, no new investors have expressed interest in taking over the closed pipeline, and the State of Wisconsin has not announced plans on the disposal or removal of the infrastructure. The State has relaxed several regulations to help fuel suppliers adjust to alternative transportation means. Most notably, tanker loads can haul at a heavier weight and their drivers can spend more time behind the wheel.

Tanker traffic has increased to help maintain supply levels throughout Wisconsin. In addition, barge traffic has increased into the Port of Green Bay. According to an article from S&P Global Platts, the Green Bay port now handles inbound barges of diesel and gasoline and has seen a reduction in petroleum exports.

Companies are adjusting to alternative transportation routes, which means different transactions and reporting needs. Our staff has been assisting clients as they navigate new form needs to ensure accurate documentation and tax reporting. We will continue to monitor the Westshore Pipeline situation and keep you informed on any updates.

Kurt Pigeon is the director of Forms and Electronic Filing development at IGen Fuels, LLC. (IGen). IGen develops software solutions geared toward motor fuel taxation and petroleum services.

The Importance of Funding Our Roads and Transportation Infrastructure

Our roads are suffering.

Motor fuel taxes pay for the building, maintenance and administration of our transportation infrastructure, yet this method is proving ineffective. This article is the beginning of a series on the benefits of having a strong transportation infrastructure system, the problems paying for it and potential solutions.

Why is it important to have a strong and well-maintained transportation system?

A new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund [U.S. PIRG Education Fund] and Frontier Group finds that drivers currently pay less than half the total cost of roads and argues that while increasing gas taxes could fill the shortfall, it would leave other problems unaddressed.
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How technology is affecting the energy world

The oil and gas industry is a large part of our everyday world. With the demand for fuel that has been generated by the advent of the motor vehicle, more and more emphasis has been placed on alternative energy resources and vehicles. Electric vehicles have been on the outer edge for decades, but with new companies and technologies in the past few years, the interest and emphasis on them has expanded.

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Thomson Reuters Partners with IGEN to Make Tax Simple for Oil & Gas Companies

NEW YORK – Thomson Reuters has announced a partnership with IGEN, provider of a leading motor fuel excise tax compliance solution, to simplify and automate the highly-complex U.S. motor fuel excise tax compliance process as part of a broader strategy to meet the needs of oil and gas companies. The partnership combines the strength of Thomson Reuters ONESOURCE, an industry-leading global corporate tax technology platform that enables tax compliance and reporting in over 190 countries, with the comprehensive U.S. motor fuel excise tax compliance and reporting capabilities of IGEN.

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Will the Gas Tax Become Extinct?

Imagine a government-mandated device that tracks where you are and every mile you travel. It has already appeared in our lifetime.

A vehicle miles traveled fee program (VMT) offers just that. The benefit of a VMT tax compared to the gas tax is it applies to vehicles powered by gasoline, diesel and alternative fuel, including electric vehicles (EV). Realistically, a VMT tax would act as either a supplement or replacement of the gas tax, which is slowly losing its ability to fund infrastructure due to fuel-efficient vehicles and a lack of tax reform.

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