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R & R Express v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

February 8, 2012

R & R EXPRESS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, RESPONDENT



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bonnie Brigance Leadbetter, President Judge

Argued: November 14, 2011

BEFORE: HONORABLE BONNIE BRIGANCE LEADBETTER, President Judge HONORABLE ROBERT SIMPSON, Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge

OPINION BY PRESIDENT JUDGE LEADBETTER*fn1

Taxpayer, R & R Express, petitions this court for review of the order of the Board of Finance and Revenue (Board), which sustained the assessment of additional tax and interest under the Motor Carriers Road Tax Act (Act), 75 Pa. C.S. §§ 9601-9622, following an audit of Taxpayer for the period April 1, 2001, through March 31, 2005. Due to Taxpayer's inadequate record-keeping, the determination of additional tax liability rested, in part, on estimates of unreported miles and fuel purchases. Because Taxpayer purchased all fuel at retail, it contends that the Board erred in failing to provide it with any credit for taxes paid on the estimated fuel use. After review, we affirm.

The Act imposes a tax on fuel consumed in Pennsylvania by qualifying motor vehicles, which includes trucks and tractor trailers. See 75 Pa. C.S § 9603. In calculating the tax, credit is given for tax paid on fuel purchased in this Commonwealth. 75 Pa. C.S. § 9604(a). In order to administer and effectuate the imposition and collection of fuel taxes on interstate carriers, Pennsylvania joined the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA).*fn2 Pursuant to the IFTA, a motor carrier based in Pennsylvania files one tax return with the Commonwealth, its "base" jurisdiction, on which the tax due to all participating jurisdictions is reported and paid. The Commonwealth, as the base jurisdiction, then distributes motor fuel use taxes to the other member jurisdictions in which the taxpayer traveled and incurred liability.*fn3

Because this matter turns on the nature of the evidence required to obtain a credit for taxes paid, we will first review the relevant statutory, regulatory and IFTA provisions, beginning with the Act, which provides:

§ 9603. Imposition of taX

(a)General rule. --Every motor carrier shall pay a road tax equivalent to the rate per gallon currently in effect on Pennsylvania liquid fuels . . . as provided in section 9004(a), (b), (c) and (d) (relating to imposition of tax, exemptions and deductions), calculated on the amount of motor fuel used in its operations on highways within this Commonwealth. . . .

§ 9604. Credit for motor fuel tax payment

(a)General rule. --Every motor carrier subject to the tax . . . shall be entitled to a credit on the tax, equivalent to the rate per gallon of the Pennsylvania tax which is currently in effect, on all . . . motor fuel purchased by the carrier within this Commonwealth for use in its operation either within or without this Commonwealth and upon which . . . motor fuel the tax imposed by the laws of this Commonwealth has been paid by such carrier. Evidence of the payment of the tax in such form as may be required by, or is satisfactory to, the department shall be furnished by each carrier claiming the credit. . . . [Emphasis added].

75 Pa. C.S. §§ 9603, 9604. With respect to record keeping, the Act provides:

§ 9610. Records

Every motor carrier shall keep such records, in such form as the department reasonably may prescribe, as will enable the carrier to report and enable the department to determine the total number of miles traveled by its entire fleet of qualified motor vehicles, the total number of miles traveled in this Commonwealth by the entire fleet, the total number of gallons of motor fuel used by the entire fleet and the total number of gallons of motor fuel purchased in this Commonwealth for the entire fleet. . . .

Id.at § 9610. See also 61 Pa. Code §§ 313.12, 313.13 (requiring, respectively, that every motor carrier keep satisfactory records of miles traveled both within and without the State and the fuel used within and without the State). Section ...


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