Last fall more than $9 million was refunded to smaller trucking companies for payments of the Idaho weight-distance tax. Refunds for larger motor carriers are currently underway and if you were an owner-operator leased to one of these larger taxpayers, you could be due a refund.
The tax, found to be unconstitutional as the result of an American Trucking Associations (ATA) lawsuit, is now in its second phase of distribution. As ordered by the court, $19 million was earmarked to be disbursed to larger motor carriers. As larger taxpayers, each of these companies must have paid at least $13,120.01 in weight-distance taxes between 1995 and 1999. Nearly 1,500 motor carriers have filed. After it’s all over, the state of Idaho could end up reimbursing truckers for as much as $27 million.
OOIDA’s attorneys have been involved with the lawsuit since last spring, when OOIDA intervened to represent owner-operators during the refund process and assure those who paid the tax got the refund. Checks – more than 28,000 of them – totalling more than $9 million were mailed last November to smaller taxpayers. Many of these were smaller trucking companies and owner-operators with their own operating authority. The bulk of these were successfully delivered. However, 4,350 refund checks amounting to more than $800,000 have been returned by the U.S. Postal Service due to bad mailing addresses. If you believe you should have received a refund and did not, it’s likely that an updated address was not available or the small carrier on the tax records did not submit your name and correct address. In either instance, if you feel you are entitled to a refund in the first phase of the refund process, you’ll find contact information at the end of this article.
As the second phase of the refunds transpire, Tim Brickell of the Cullen Law Firm in Washington, DC, says OOIDA is still heavily involved. “Nearly 1,500 motor carriers have filed refund claims to date and we have reviewed and investigated nearly 1,000 of these claims,” says Brickell. “Thus far, more than 14,000 owner-operators have been identified by the motor carriers as having paid the tax through deductions from settlements. Therefore, nearly $700,000 in refunds due motor carriers will be passed on to the owner-operators.”
Brickell said some of the larger motor carriers omitted owner-operators’ names when filing for the refund. “OOIDA has lodged formal disputes with the American Trucking Associations challenging the claims of more than 200 motor carriers who have filed for refunds from the state of Idaho,” says Brickell. “We are currently in the process of issuing dispute notices and reviewing responses we’ve received from carriers.”
The law firm says that many owner-operators who were leased to larger motor carriers and were charged back the amount of the tax would not be receiving a refund without the work of OOIDA. The cutoff date for claiming a refund was May 20 for larger carriers. If you are an owner-operator who was leased to a large motor carrier from 1995 to 1999 and believe you were responsible for paying the tax, you need to contact OOIDA’s attorneys. The firm has a special toll-free number you can call (1-800-850-1767) and leave a recorded message. Tim Brickell or Jason Morrow from the law firm will contact you.