OOIDA asks U.S. Supreme Court to review constitutionality of New York fuel taxes on toll road miles

| Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Jan. 28, 2002, Grain Valley, MO -- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of the collection of fuel taxes on toll roads in New York state. The petition to the Supreme Court represents continued efforts by OOIDA in a lawsuit originally filed against New York in February, 1999.

Commenting on their recent filing with the Supreme Court, OOIDA President Jim Johnston stated, "When tolls fully pay for the use of the toll road, OOIDA believes that the collection of a fuel tax for the use of the same road is a form of double taxation, is an 'undue burden' on interstate commerce, and is forbidden by the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution." Johnston added, "OOIDA's success in this litigation could mean the refund to owner-operators and motor carriers of several years of fuel taxes paid on miles driven on toll roads and it would go far in promoting fairness and equity in fuel tax assessments. As more states eye toll roads as a viable option, trucks are an easy and convenient target."

OOIDA has similar court challenges pending in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

All of the states that OOIDA has sued have defended their taxes by arguing that the fuel taxes are not collected for the use of the roads but just for the consumption of the fuel. Johnston said, "This argument is easily refuted by pointing out that if trucks did not use the roads they would not consume fuel. Fuel taxes clearly are road use taxes and even the states have supported this fact over the years in stating that fuel taxes are the most accurate method available of reflecting the actual road use. The payment of a state's fuel tax based on miles driven, regardless of whether or not fuel was purchased in that state, only lends further evidence to our contention that fuel taxes are indeed road user taxes. Unfortunately, the courts of each of these states accepted the states' arguments made to protect their treasuries."

The New York case is the most advanced and OOIDA has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state court's decision. OOIDA is confident that if the court reviews the New York decision, it will be reversed. However, because the Supreme Court receives a large number of petitions for consideration, few are granted. Therefore, to bring greater attention to this important issue and to increase the likelihood that the court chooses to hear the case, OOIDA is seeking the support of other associations and trucking interests. OOIDA members are encouraged to discuss this issue with their motor carriers and ask them to encourage their trucking associations to file a "friend of the court" brief in support of OOIDA's petition. Briefs in support must be filed by Feb. 19, 2002, to receive consideration.

Founded in 1973, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), is comprised of more than 73,000 owner-operators, professional drivers, and small business truckers from all 50 states and Canada. OOIDA represents the interest of this nation's more than 350,000 small business trucking professionals in the legislative and regulatory processes at both federal and state levels.

Comments