Oklahoma sues to keep truck tag fees coming in

| 12/30/2002

Oklahoma has raised the stakes in the battle over base plating, filing suit against the administrator of the International Registration Plan Inc. to block sanctions against the state, The Oklahoma City Oklahoman reported Dec. 20.

The lawsuit, which will be heard before a federal judge in Oklahoma City, was filed to protect more than $16 million in fees the state would lose if the sanctions were put into place, the newspaper reported. Officials of the Oklahoma Tax Commission started the action after being notified other states and all 10 Canadian provinces would withhold truck fees from the state - which fund state government and schools in Oklahoma - after the first of the year.

In April, the IRP's Dispute Resolution Committee ruled that Oklahoma had cheated Illinois out of trucker fees by looking the other way when agents hired by truckers filed false mileage projections to get their clients cheaper tags, Land Line reported in November. The two states were given until November to try to reach a settlement, but the IRP says Oklahoma failed to reach an agreement with Illinois by that date.

The IRP had told Oklahoma that if the state can't prove compliance, other states and provinces would stop sending fees Feb. 7.

Illinois isn't the only state complaining about fiscal losses to the Sooner State. A number of financially strapped states are unhappy over losing money to Oklahoma. They're particularly peeved over Oklahoma's bogus mileage and the scandal within the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

Already, reports have come in that some states are citing Oklahoma base-plated trucks, calling them illegally tagged. Alabama is reportedly ticketing trucks that officials there think are improperly registered in Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma officials say losing the truck tag fees or facing a potentially large judgment would be devastating to the state, The Oklahoman reported, which is already facing budget shortfalls and layoffs.

Oklahoma wants the court to force the other states to keep paying the fees and to declare the IRP's sanctions invalid.