Supreme Court lets Oregon tax system stand

By Land Line Staff

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear a dispute about how the state of Oregon taxes heavy trucks, effectively preserving a law that many interstate truckers feel is discriminatory.

“This confirms that it’s a state matter and the state has handled (truck taxation) evenhandedly,” Stephanie Soden, a spokeswoman for Oregon Attorney General Hardy Myers, told The Associated Press.

Oregon is one of the few states to charge a weight mile tax, which is figured on a per-mile basis. For trucks weighing 78,001 to 80,000 pounds, the tax is 13 cents per mile.

According to The AP, Department of Transportation officials in the state believe heavier trucks inflict more damage on the state’s roadways, and should therefore pay the highest amounts in taxes.

However, Oregon’s law allows intrastate haulers to pay a flat tax fee, while interstate haulers pay based on weight and distance.

State officials claim the local haulers take shorter trips and use private and lesser-used roads more frequently, and cannot be taxed equivalently without the flat tax exception in place.

However, the American Trucking Association had challenged the law in court, arguing that it discriminates against interstate truckers by giving breaks to local wood, sand and gravel haulers, according to The AP.

However, the lower court ruled there was no evidence of unfairness against interstate haulers. Had the decision gone the other way, truckers would’ve received refunds amounting to as much as $60 million, The AP reported.