Oregon Trucking Association Sues State Over Excess Taxation

Three Carriers Join Suit Accusing State of Imposing $528,000 Daily in Heavy Truck Overcharges
Truck in Oregon
A truck at Columbia Gorge in Oregon. (vitpho/Getty Images)

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Three trucking companies joined the Oregon Trucking Association in suing the state for violating its own constitution by requiring all heavy trucks in the state to pay a combined $528,000 daily in excess state weight-mile taxes. For the three carriers named in the suit, that overpayment so far has amounted collectively to nearly $1 million.

The lawsuit was filed in the Douglas County Circuit Court in the state’s 16th Judicial District in Roseburg against the state, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and three state officials, including Gov. Tina Kotek.

“We initiated this lawsuit not because we don’t want to be paying taxes, but because we simply want to pay our fair share,” said Andy Owens, CEO and manager of A&M Transport. “Since 2022, we have paid over $292,000 more in taxes than we should have, based on the findings of the state’s own Highway Cost Allocation Study. Not only is the overpayment not sustainable for a family business like ours, it’s in violation of Oregon’s constitution.”

Owens added that as a family-owned and -operated trucking business in Glendale, “we simply cannot sustain the astronomical tax increases we’ve seen over the last few decades, with little to show from it from ODOT when it comes to road improvements, completed infrastructure projects, and ensuring safe conditions for our drivers.”

The other plaintiffs, Combined Transport Inc. of Central Point, contends it overpaid by $470,619 in taxes from Jan. 1, 2022, to the present, and Sherman Bros. Trucking of Harrisburg was overcharged $153,198 in taxes during the same time frame.

“This lawsuit is simple. Trucks in Oregon are paying more than their fair share of highway taxes — and have for many years. Tax rates for trucking are based on projects ODOT has promised, but ODOT hasn’t kept its word. Major road improvements haven’t been completed, roads are less safe due to a lack of funding allocated for snowplows and other winter weather conditions, and traffic has increased on major interstates due to mismanaged roads,” said Bart Sherman, CEO and president of Sherman Bros. Trucking.

According to the Oregon Trucking Association, the state constitution requires that the tax rate paid by trucks be “fair and proportionate to the costs incurred for the highway system because of each class of vehicle.” However, for at least the last six years, the state’s trucking companies have been forced to pay more than a third of all taxes owed by Oregon motorists despite trucks representing only 15% of vehicle miles traveled in the state.



Jana Jarvis, CEO of the state trucking association, declared: “By 2025, the trucking industry is expected to have overpaid by half a billion dollars. Trucks play a critical role in moving goods to communities and families in Oregon, and it’s long past time that we ensure they are paying their fair share of taxes.”

She said most Oregon trucking companies own fewer than five trucks.

Michael Card, president of Combined Transport, said: “Last year alone, our family-owned trucking business overpaid by $250,000. With Oregon already paying more taxes than any other state in the nation, trucking companies simply cannot sustain these continued increases and, often, are forced to pass increased costs onto consumers, meaning Oregonians who depend on trucks to move goods end up paying more.”

The lawsuit is seeking an injunction “to stop the unconstitutional taxes” and for the state to conduct an immediate review and adjustment of revenue sources to ensure fairness and proportionality of motor vehicle taxes.

The plaintiffs reserve the right to amend the lawsuit to bring a class-action suit on behalf of all heavy-weight truck carriers “subjected to an overpayment under the current, unconstitutional taxation structure.”

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The legal action stated that the “extra burden on heavy vehicles is significant, immediate and ongoing.” ODOT has estimated that for 2023 through 2025 heavy vehicles will overpay by approximately $193 million per year.

“This amounts to an overpayment of more than $528,000 every single day. Nonetheless, ODOT has continued to collect these inequitable and unconstitutional taxes from heavy vehicle operators,” the lawsuit alleges.

The state Legislature and government are accused of failing to rectify the excess taxation.