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June 22, 2016 11:40 AM, EDT

Freight Brokerage Company Loses Tax Case in Pennsylvania’s Highest Court

Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania

In light of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court case involving York City and a freight brokerage company, the city and local tax bureau are taking a look to make sure utility companies are paying the taxes they're supposed to.

A civil case between the city and S&H Transportation regarding payment of business privilege tax wound its way over the past several years to Pennsylvania's highest court, which decided the company was not exempt from paying the tax.

After a late-2011 audit found S&H hadn't been paying that tax for the previous four years, the city said the company owed it $118,346.88 for those years, according to court documents. The company challenged that, saying it was exempt from paying that tax because the freight companies it dealt with used to have their rates set by the state Public Utility Commission.

The York County Court of Common Pleas judge ruled in the company's favor, saying it didn't have to pay.

But then the city appealed up the court system, winning judgments in its favor at the state Commonwealth Court and then state Supreme Court levels. That highest court on May 25 ruled  that S&H did have to pay the city business privilege tax, or BPT. According to court documents, the court said that just because an industry used to be exempt because its rates were set doesn't mean it will be after it's deregulated.

So now the city solicitor's office and the York-Adams Tax Bureau are checking to make sure every company in similar situations that's supposed to pay the BPT is doing so, according to assistant city solicitor Jason Sabol.

As part of the ruling, the appeals courts sent the case back to the Court of Common Pleas with the directive that that court figure out how much money, if any, the company owes the city. That has not been decided yet.

S&H officials did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment.