According to the Associated Press, the department failed to claim all of the 14-cent-per-gallon fuel tax owed to the state, partly because of an administrative oversight, said Department Director Sleeter Dover.
Bruce Burrows, department spokesperson, said the largest share of the lost money, about $3 million, resulted from a failure to charge truck drivers 2 cents of the per-gallon tax. The Legislature redirected the 2-cent portion of the tax from highways to schools from 1998 until 2002.
Another $619,081 was misplaced when the department failed to continue collecting a 1-cent portion of the tax following a court decision that upheld the tax as constitutional. Dover believes someone took the penny off the forms in 1992 or 1993 when the tax was challenged by an oil company in 1989, reports the AP.
Officials say the forms that out-of-state truckers used to claim their fuel tax refunds have not reflected the 1-cent and temporary 2-cent portions of the tax since 1995. Forms used by Wyoming truck drivers failed to reflect the 2-cent portions of the tax.
The state was refunding 13 or 14 cents per gallon, instead of refunding only 11 or 12 cents of the tax, depending on whether the truck driver was from Wyoming or from out of state.
Department officials have begun to correct the problem, and estimate the process will be complete by April.