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OOIDA Fuel Tax Suit Dismissed

January 10, 2000

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An Illinois court has rejected a constitutional challenge to Illinois' fuel tax filed by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn.

The class action lawsuit, filed early last year against four states, sought refunds of fuel taxes collected for miles driven on the states' tollroads, alleging that the practice amounted to unconstitutional double taxation.
OOIDA alleged that annual reports of each of the tolling authorities show that these tollroads are completely self-sufficient financially. The association contends that because tollroad users pay for that use once with their tolls, states cannot tax them for use of tollroads a second time through the fuel tax.
The Cook County Circuit Court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss. Judge Alexander White ruled that OOIDA did not have legal standing to challenge the tax, because it did not demonstrate a recognizable interest in the matter and suffered no injury.
White also ruled that the plaintiffs' voluntary use of the state's tollway system did not relieve them of their obligation to pay the motor fuel tax. OOIDA contended that the tax was intended to assist the state in building and maintaining state roads and highways, and since the tollways are operated under an independent authority that receives none of the fuel tax, the imposition of it is not fairly related to the services the state provides. White disagreed, saying that the use to which the taxes are put is not a matter that concerns the plaintiffs.

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OOIDA is appealing the ruling, along with similar rulings in New York and Indiana. The Ohio case has not been ruled on yet. Paul Cullen Sr., an attorney representing OOIDA in the matter, told Truckinginfo.com that dismissals and appeals are very common in the early part of cases like this.

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