(FEBRUARY 2, 2016 Washington D.C.) In a class action challenging New York State’s Highway Use Registration and Decal taxes, the New York State Supreme Court, Albany County, ruled that the taxes are unconstitutional, and permanently enjoined the State from collecting the taxes. The class representatives include the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and individual operators. Plaintiffs are represented by Paul D. Cullen, Sr., Daniel E. Cohen and Joseph A. Black of the Cullen Law Firm, PLLC, Washington D.C., and Thomas Fallati, Tabner Ryan and Keniry LLP, Albany New York.
In addition to requiring trucks to pay a per-mile fuel tax, New York State has required operators to pay a $15 per vehicle registration fee and a $4 decal fee. These registration and decal taxes apply equally to in-state and out-of-state operators, regardless of the number of miles they travel in New York State. In its ruling, the Court held that the taxes violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution by discriminating against out-of-state operators. Among other things, the Commerce Clause prohibits states from imposing burdens on interstate commerce.
In addition to its order permanently enjoining that State from collecting any more fees, the court directed the parties to submit briefs within sixty days addressing issues pertaining to the calculation and administration of refunds to class members. It is estimated that the amount of refunds could exceed $30 million.
Daniel E. Cohen, lead counsel for the class, commented that “The Court’s ruling vindicates the constitutional rights of thousands of truck owner-operators, who should be reimbursed by the State of New York for all registration taxes they have been required to pay in violation of the Constitution.”
The Cullen Law Firm specializes in representing plaintiffs in high profile constitutional law cases and class actions.
For additional information about the case, contact Daniel E. Cohen (202) 944-8600.
Opinion available for view.