New Jersey fee settlement involves refunds

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The American Trucking Associations and the state of New Jersey recently reached an agreement to settle two long-running challenges to the state’s annual fees for haulers of hazardous waste.

The cases challenged New Jersey’s per-truck registration fee of $212 per combination unit and its per-carrier flat fees through the A-901 program. The state already has been restricted from collecting the A-901 fees since a New Jersey Tax Court ruling in 1998.

Under the June 7 agreement, the state will pay $8.25 million in refunds and attorneys’ fees and continue to refrain from collecting any further A-901 fees until new rules are published and adopted.

The ATA argued that the annual registration fee was disproportionate and “structurally discriminatory.” The court agreed and also found that the fee failed the U.S. Supreme Court’s “internal consistency test,” which examines the cumulative burden of flat fees on interstate motor carriers.

The court found that the flat fees do not take into account the level of carrier activity within the state. Out-of-state drivers therefore pay more per activity than in-state drivers, an imbalance that overly burdens interstate commerce.

Before the state provides the refund, the Tax Court must approve the settlement, a decision expected by early August.

If the settlement is approved, the state will issue automatic refunds, based on its record of fees paid, without any need for the filing of claims. In that case, refunds will be distributed by Oct. 31.

Motor carriers eligible for refunds will be notified in early July, describing the refund process and advising them of their rights.