Volume 2, Issue 5 – March 15th, 2014
Faced with stubborn public opposition to raising taxes at the fuel pump to pay for highway needs, policymakers are casting about for alternatives for generating the needed revenue. But as New York is learning, they have to be careful about the method they choose to embrace.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has challenged the constitutionality of the state’s imposition of a fee of $15.00 for a certificate of registration and a $4.00 decal charge on all trucks that use New York State highways.
OOIDA noted that failure to pay these fees, which it says amount to taxes, on a timely basis can result in fines, interest, penalties and even seizure of the nonpayer’s truck.
OOIDA asserts that New York State’s flat vehicle registration and decal charges violate the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. The association is relying on a 1987 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down two Pennsylvania flat vehicle taxes because they effectively imposed a higher charge per mile on out-of-state vehicles.
On Jan. 28 a New York trial court rejected the state’s request that the case be dismissed. The court determined that the Supreme Court’s Commerce Clause analysis in the 1987 case, along with the factual allegations made by OOIDA, were sufficient to continue the proceedings.
In addition to seeking to have the decal and registration program halted, OOIDA wants to the state to be required to pay refunds to those truck owners who have already paid them.