OOIDA highway tax case against New York moves forward

By Sandi Soendker, Land Line editor-in-chief | 2/10/2014

OOIDA’s lawsuit against the state of New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance continues to advance in the state’s Supreme Court, which is the state’s trial court. The lawsuit challenges certain highway taxes as unconstitutional and discriminatory against out-of-state truckers who have paid the taxes in order to do business in New York.

OOIDA’s legal challenge on behalf of truckers was protested by the state, but on Jan. 28, 2014, Supreme Court Judge Joseph C. Teresi rejected all but one of the state’s motions to dismiss.

OOIDA’s attorneys filed a class action complaint Oct. 8, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Albany. The action names the defendants as the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance, Thomas H. Mattox (individually and in his official capacity as commissioner), along with the State of New York; and Andrew Cuomo (individually and in his official capacity as governor of the State of New York).

Named plaintiffs in the case are OOIDA and OOIDA Members Bryan Spoon dba Spoon Trucking, Steve Bixler, Jack McComb and William “Lewie” Pugh. 

The taxes are imposed not only on New York-based trucks, which are driven mostly in New York, but also on trucks based outside of New York, which are driven mostly in states other than New York. Failure to pay on a timely basis can result in fines or even the seizure of a truck.

Trucks owned and/or operated outside of New York travel fewer miles on New York highways than trucks owned and/or operated in New York. The imposition of the challenged taxes results in a higher per mile tax rate being imposed on out-of-state trucks. OOIDA charges that constitutes an undue burden on interstate commerce in violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

OOIDA’s action asks the court to declare those taxes unconstitutional and therefore invalid and not enforceable. The complaint also asks for injunctive relief, refunds and other appropriate relief on behalf of the plaintiffs.

OOIDA seeks to represent a class of all interstate motor carriers who reside and operate trucking equipment primarily outside New York who have paid or will pay the taxes.

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