Alabama cancels 'improper registration' tickets; still problems for OK-based truckers

| Monday, February 10, 2003

The ticket campaign targeting Alabama truckers tagged in Oklahoma is history, but there are still some problems to be worked out if Alabama wants those truckers to come home.

The tickets were part of the brouhaha arising from Alabama-based trucks getting cheaper tags in Oklahoma through agents that operated offices in that state. Revenue Department officials, complaining about the drop in tag revenue, began ticketing those truckers for improper registration.

“They were stopping everybody and anybody,” Frank Filgo, president of the Alabama Trucking Association, said. Filgo’s group and a number of trucking companies countered with a lawsuit to stop the ticketing.

“At least 20 trucking companies were part of our action,” Filgo told Land Line. “These people had registered in Oklahoma, and we felt the tags should have been good for at least 12 months. Alabama wanted them switched over to Alabama registration immediately, in the middle of the year, and that would not have been advantageous.”

Recently, the two sides signed an agreement to end the legal fight. Trucking companies involved in the case agreed that they would register either in Alabama or another state where they had a physical presence. The state said it would make the tickets go away.

Filgo said the state department of revenue did not admit wrongdoing, but decided the tickets were the wrong route to achieve its goals. The department is now taking the audit route, he says. The bad news is, to come back home, the trucking companies will be obligated to pay property taxes, sales taxes and other fees for years they were registered in Oklahoma.

According to one report by The Associated Press, the state revenue department has begun audits of some companies and estimated more than $20 million could be at stake in back taxes.

Currently, Filgo says, the association has not fully explored the possibility of some kind of amnesty.

by Sandi Soendker, managing editor

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