OOIDA’s lawsuit against the state of New York’s Department of Taxation and Finance was certified Sept. 1 as a class action by 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.
The court found that a class action was appropriate due to the potential number of trucking businesses affected.
OOIDA’s attorneys filed the complaint nearly a year ago 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 class action lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of taxes that impose $15 for a certificate of registration and a $4 decal charge on all trucks using New York state highways. The taxes are imposed not only on New York-based trucks, which are driven proportionately higher miles in New York, but also on trucks based outside of New York, which are driven mostly in states other than New York.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston says that 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.
Johnston says that 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’s legal action will 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.
Johnston called the certification of the class action a “very positive development.”